Stanford deletes 'victim-blaming' primer on how alcohol affects women
Stanford University has taken down a webpage titled Female Bodies and Alcohol after students complained that “protects campus rapists” by taking “victim-blaming to a whole new level.”
The webpage, an archived version of which is accessible online, explained how alcohol affects women’s bodies differently than men’s, cautioning female students that they can achieve a blood-alcohol-content (BAC) nearly twice that of their male peers when both consume the same amount of alcohol.
“We are sorry for the harm that the article may have caused people who read it."
Much of the information concerned the potential health ramifications of excessive alcohol consumption, such as the increased vulnerability of women to alcohol-induced organ damage, and the page also included a primer on recognizing and responding to signs of alcohol poisoning.
According to USA TODAY, however, feminists on the campus took issue with the page’s explicit focus on women, and particularly its suggestion that females exercise special caution when drinking because of the connection between intoxication and sexual assault.
“Jesus. @Stanford went so far as to publish a patronizing, victim-blaming ‘Female Bodies and Alcohol’ page,” tweeted one female student who describes herself as a “part time angry Twitter feminist.”
“Research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be,” the page stated. “Individuals who are even a little intoxicated are more likely to be victimized than those who are not drinking.”
Yet the page also mentions that “research studies have shown that men who think they have been drink-?ing alcohol—even when they have only consumed a placebo—feel sexually aroused and are more responsive to erotic stimuli, including rape scenarios,” and suggests that women exercise vigilance on behalf of themselves and their friends when they encounter signs of abnormal behavior.
Stanford acceded to the students’ demands that it remove the page from its website, but expressed befuddlement that the controversy had even arisen, particularly so long after the page first went live.
“It was groundbreaking in 2006-07 for educating women about alcohol dangers,” remarked Associate Vice President of University Communications Lisa Lapin, noting that the content was adapted from a 2006 media campaign by Cornell University, and that women make up the majority of alcohol-related emergency medical transports at the university.
Stanford, however, has been reeling from the deluge of negative publicity generated by the case of former swimmer Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman on campus, and earlier this week took the drastic step of banning its undergraduate students from consuming hard alcohol on campus in an effort to reduce misconduct.
The university promptly updated the Female Bodies and Alcohol page to remove all mentions of sexual assault and safe drinking behavior, and also altered the sections dealing with health effects to address "genetic differences" rather than "gender" differences.
At the very top of the revised page, the university includes a brief statement indicating that it “would like to apologize for an outdated and insensitive article on women and alcohol that was here,” conceding that “the content of the article did not reflect the values of our office” and reiterating that “we are sorry for the harm that the article may have caused people who read it."