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When it Comes to Consent, There is No Gray Area

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April 6, 2016

I intended to write this post and have it up last week so it would be more timely, but due to a death in the family, I was unable to and had to save it for this week.

This past weekend, Auburn University’s chapter of Alpha Psi hosted their annual Rodeo, an outdoor country concert held each spring. It is not university-sponsored, but it still remains something of an Auburn tradition. In the week leading up, the campus Walmart is rearranged so the essentials are up by the cash register: cowboy hats, denim, and cheap beer. People come from all over the southeast to experience the atmosphere and excitement. As luck has it, it typically rains the days preceding Rodeo, which means that everyone who attends is standing in the mud all day. You’re allowed to bring in coolers of drinks, so the entire day is basically spent drinking in the mud and the sun, and waiting for the concert to begin.

While I love country music, I’m not very outdoorsy and I burn too easily to enjoy being out in the sun all day, so this doesn’t appeal to me in the least. I do see how others might like it though: it’s usually just a few weeks before finals, so it’s a good time to drink and have fun with your friends before getting hardcore study mode. I get it. Everyone likes to have a good time.

There’s a dark side to this yearly tradition, though. Every year, people return with stories (and even pictures!) of strangers in various states of intoxication having sex in cars, under trucks, anywhere. While there is nothing inherently wrong with having sex in/under vehicles or in a corner of a field, it’s the intoxication element that makes this an issue. Since I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to say this in advance of Rodeo, I’m saying it now:

Drunken sex is not consensual sex.

There is no so-called ‘gray area’ when it comes to consent. If somebody is drunk, they do not have the ability to actively consent. Colorado State’s page on consent puts it perfectly: “You either have consent from the other person or you don’t. If they are drunk or high, they can’t give consent. If YOU are intoxicated, you can’t give consent.”

With summer break just around the corner, I’m sure a lot of you have plans to go out, have fun and take some time away from classes. Do it! Go to parties, go to the beach, drink responsibly, go to bars and meet new people—enjoy the summer! But just remember that there isn’t a gray area and to make sure that any sexual encounters you have are consensual.

And remember: drunken sex is not consensual sex.

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