I entered an Instagram contest for a beer haiku:
I may be pregnant
But will dream of local brews
Until I give birth
I went to yoga again yesterday, even though I needed much more vigorous exercise after eating gummies, chocolates, goldfish, and other unfortunate snacks throughout the day. Toward the end of the session, our instructor had us relax and envision standing at the shoreline of the ocean. She asked us to take in the wide expanse of sea, and to listen to the rhythm of the waves.
The type of beach that came to mind immediately was in southeast Asia. I started in Phu Quoc, Vietnam, but a little jellyfish swam by my feet, so I migrated to Phuket, Thailand, but the water was a bit darker than I preferred. I settled on the shore of White Sand Beach in Candidasa, Bali, where I sipped on a large bottle of cold lager and ate an entire grilled fish, with a side of a local sweet and sour fish sauce-based dip while lounging in the sand. It suddenly occurred to me I will not likely be carefree and alone with my husband on a remote beach in southeast Asia, drinking and eating with reckless abandon any time soon, or indeed, for many years to come, and I sort of wanted to cry.
Of course, that was not the point of the exercise, and our “birth wisdom” tip sheets at the end of class fittingly reminded me to check negative thoughts at the door.
They held daffodils between their teeth as they wove flower crowns and years later
Flipping through old books she found four-leaf clovers pressed between pages
Crushed flat and still, preserved for no one
She felt the heat and shine of the rising sun and saw her friend in his car, preparing to leave the summer behind
She called out to him from the patio and said I love you
He turned to her and responded Ugh stop drinking
The child molester sitting a table away asks her about a boy as the morning coffee begins to waft
She says Give me a cigarette and I’ll tell you
She takes a drag and weaves a tale of indifference
As he lectures her about fickleness
drifting in and out of sleep floating through disturbances of phone calls and scrambled details of a faraway night-glory when riddled with shivers she found a warm body, let herself crumble to elusive plans not her own, victim to sloshing in the head, a warm bloody release of the fulfillment. she slept alone above a pool of aquamarine liquid, disconnected from infidelities.
there’s a vague flash of pink, metallic, chipped nailpoish, and bent wings. here’s the skin my flesh and all the youth for you to feast on. she raged and dragged a furor through the bones with a fresh madness and love that has never idled away in a pantry or been stored in a can.
waking up penless and thoughtless, light was starting to claw at the blinds and she was still waiting for unconsciousness and relief from the battle schemes of the day. coffee and spirits have flooded the veins, burst against reason, spun the head with heavy confessions in a rotation of heavenly uncertainties.
an entreating voice is on the phone, asking for warmth, because he is about to leave again, restless to wander while she stews contentedly in suburbia, breathing in a fateful and constant concrete, only half listening because she catches sight of a man on a balcony and trails off to stale thoughts and imagined with him there would be the final reduction of the fatal rush and the pleasure of letting the unknown melt in slate irises, gold-flared in the midday sun, a faithful and eternal reflection of unending sand and flawless sky.
now they suffer the musicless hum of the 405 together and she is reminded they have always been imaginary. you might be remembered best if you finished here violently and grandly and young because continuity threatens to be the most inglorious concession.
i daydream about waking up in his apartment between cocoon sheets and quietly folded dreams of the faded night before
and padding down the hallway on his pine wood floors in the morning as a crisp reminder of reality
but he never calls me so
let us stare mindlessly at the yellow roses by the mailbox together until this song runs out
we’ll pick up guitars and play until i am ready for coffee highs and long days
we’ll make our own viscous, blurring nights with liquid destruction in our hands
you can have all my secret fascinations and my immutable kingdom
as long as we can spend all summer on the cafe patio
with old men
and iced tea
she worked daily to make him but a smear in her thoughts
when she is drinking iced tea
he appears on the patio sometimes, softened by sunlight and appearing innocuous
when the night air is falling and rippling around her vague intent to conquer and
the Los Angeles concrete is fluid, snaking brightly in the dark
her steps are flight and he is not even a stain on her immediacy
only a crimson shadow in her kingdom of vanity, if he is there at all
but in her sleep
she fears he is the colour of her blood.
chasteness chastity celibacy abstinence virtuous reserved
she caught sight of herself in the mirror, presiding over vomit-laced sinks and
briefly searches for the terrible fish in the reaches of the silver pool but is relieved
the bathroom god is merciful when the time pulses slowly, the air moves like waves
he said you smell like cigarettes and boys, what a primitive existence, base and typical
just as you feared
let me live thin during the nights, if it pleases me
on her thigh she notices a bruise, eggplant-coloured and temporary
an accident like Tuesday and his slate-blue eyes
she hates the thickness of heat and how skins cling in damp numbness
these close textures, constant intrusions remind her
she has resigned herself to chasing her second fall
It’s Friday. Mum and Dad’s friends are coming to get drunk and I love it. Mum has an IPA in hand, and I watch her when she answers the door because I want to see which friends are coming. I love the men. They are strong and beautiful and I could watch them and brush by them gently, purposefully, all night. Mum always moves so quickly. She runs to the door sometimes like they haven’t had a visitor in years. I’m watching but it often looks like I’m staring or glaring; my eyes have that kind of intensity, like maybe I am trying to bore a hole into your dark soul with my gaze.
I don’t think she believes in reincarnation, but…well, I’m fairly certain she does not believe in reincarnation, though some people do. It could be that dead is dead, and my little bones and organs will be forgotten, decomposed matter in the ground, ashes floating in the wind. But if Mum did believe in reincarnation, I think she’d want to be me in her next life. I think she’d find herself rather happy being me.
She thinks she is happy now. She and Dad are always talking and laughing. They go out drinking with friends on the weekend and if they go out they come home late, just when I am starting to think they might not be back at all. Their friends start out at our place, drinking lots of craft beers (Coors and Bud are not permitted in this house, unless for beer pong or other drinking games). Sometimes Mum is talked into shots of tequila or whiskey. They go out downtown to clubs and bars, come home loud and inarticulate, and sometimes cook food at 2 in the morning. Their friends pass out on the couch, and everyone wakes up incredibly late.
The next morning they complain about headaches and watch internet videos and eat bacon. Usually, Mum and Dad will give me a small piece of bacon too, though they make me do tricks to earn it. I find this inordinately humiliating, as I don’t see why people should have bacon for breakfast as a matter of course, while my sister and I should be subjugated for that small morsel of heaven. It’s particularly difficult for me. My sister is such a sad creature she could not possibly be further degraded beyond her pathetic state in any event, so I doubt it’s any any skin off her back.
If Mum and Dad go out, she always wears small, tight dresses, and I’m not sure how all that beer fits. If drinking at home, she likes yoga pants and T-shirts. Her favorites are a shirt with the Beatles on it and another one featuring a George Orwell quote – “We have always been at war with Eastasia.” Her outfits can be simple, but her closet’s quite obscene. She has several suits for work, more dresses than any woman needs, and certainly more shoes than necessary. Her accessory collection spans an armoire and two large troves. She also has an entire trunk full of costume material. If she was reincarnated as me, she wouldn’t have to be so preoccupied over clothes. She thinks she enjoys it, but I think secretly, she’d be equally happy with just a black coat of fur, a red collar, never having to worry about outfits, color detail, and accessorizing for the rest of her life.
If she were a pretty black cat like me, life would be simple, like she likes it. She could sit and stare out the big glass windows all day without responsibility of any sort, cast her golden, crystal eyes on the lawn as birds dance up and down. She could throw tantrums and look cute doing it. She can’t do that now; no one appreciates a grown woman throwing a fit.
There are about 8 people here now, and Mum’s lighting up the hookah. She was sipping on Inversion IPA again. She’s been drinking that one a lot lately, though it’s one of many of her favorite beers. It was probably on sale at the grocery store. The beers come and go quickly with the conversation. Dad’s favorites are Belgians, but the only Belgian style beer in the beer fridge currently is a Trippel by New Belgium. The blond one loves IPA’s, but recently, she’s on a Porter and Stout kick. She’s having Black Butte Porter, brewed by Deschutes. I cause her to have allergic reactions and itch and sneeze, but she’s still nice to me, perhaps because I am simply that charming.
Dad’s brother also loves IPA’s, but he is currently drinking the Hoppy Lager by Sierra Nevada (from the “Beer Camp” series). The girl with Mum’s same name has brought a 22 ounce of Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point and is sharing it with Mum. Her husband doesn’t drink. He’s a dentist. Maybe he thinks beer rots your teeth. The boy I like a lot used to drink IPA’s along with the rest of them, but he only drinks scotch now. I like him a lot because when he used to live here, he spent a lot of time on the couch, and provided very reliable lap space for my naps. In general, I love all the boys. They have the biggest, warmest laps.
My sister is silently observing us from the second floor, staring down at us from behind the banister like a creeper. She has some certifiable mental problems, that one. She loves to cling to Mum and Dad, but as soon as people come, she hides away like a scared little mouse. She is terribly socially awkward and bores me to tears, so I don’t even pay her mind anymore if I can help it.
They’re all loud and happy now. I wonder if I could have some beer. It smells so delicious, and seems to be some magic elixir of contentment.
Stay tuned for part II.
Rape is a controversial issue, and the definition of “rape” is anything but clear. A reasonable definition for rape necessitates the use of force and/or lack of consent. After all, cajoling someone or playing on their weaknesses to convince them to take some sort of action shouldn’t be criminal, assuming it doesn’t involve injuring any non-consenting third parties.
For example, if a friend purposely drives by an In-N-Out and successfully induces you to break your diet and eat a Double Double, you were not physically violated into eating a burger against your consent. If your buddy convinces you to strip naked and go swim in the ocean against your better judgment, you have not been “forced” to go skinny dipping. If your pal sweet talks you into dropping them off at an airport two hours away against your preference, you have not been “forced” to take them to the airport.
This is because none of these scenarios involved aggression or coercion justifying punishment, and the result does not change if one or both parties were drunk when coming to these decisions. Maybe your friend has taken advantage of your drunken state to talk you into running around naked, eat burgers, or take her to a distant airport the next morning, but it isn’t criminal, because adults are responsible for their actions, even when drunk.
For some, this may seem like common sense; yet, common sense is not always so common. A Slate article recently reported a story wherein a college woman was drunk, but was walking, talking, on multiple occasions fended off friends who attempted to take her home, and told people she was OK three times . After having sex with an equally, if not more inebriated fellow student, she reported him for sexual misconduct. The slate article goes on to explain that universities are “struggling to determine” whether a situation of this type is sexual assault, which frankly, is absurd. Though all outward appearances, including text message evidence, was consistent with consent, the man was expelled from college.
This is not an isolated sentiment. I attended a freshman orientation program at UCLA in the fall of 2002 that featured a sexual assault presentation embodying a similar philosophy. A speaker stood in front of thousands of impressionable freshman in the incoming class and announced that sex with a drunk woman under any circumstances constituted rape. This appalled me and made me want to vomit in my mouth. I had never been drunk because I was a big nerd in high school, but the idea men were deemed intelligent enough to make decisions when drunk but women were not was just about the most sexist thing I’d heard in quite a while.
The speaker then invited feedback from the audience, at which time, a young man stood up and said, “I 100 percent agree because women are all wonderful princesses and should be treated as such.” At this point, I wanted to vomit not only a little in my mouth; I wanted to spew projectile barf all over this douchebag, the speaker, and humanity. If I had some more balls (ovaries?) at that age, I would have booed or staged a walk-out.
A person does not lose the capacity for volition or consent by being drunk per se, because impaired judgment (caused by drinking or otherwise) in and of itself is not something that should absolve people of personal responsibility. Of course, if a person is unconscious, he/she is physically incapable of any intent or consent, but otherwise, being drunk in and of itself should not negate volition or consent. Accordingly, when an intoxicated individual commits assault (or any other crime) it is no defense to claim he/she was drunk, and therefore not responsible for their actions. On the other hand, if a unconscious person rolls off a bed and hits someone, there clearly is no intent or volition.
Sex and rape are sensitive subjects, but countless other examples indicate impaired judgment does not and should not negate volition or consent. Stupidity impairs judgment, but unless the victim is literally mentally disabled (or is a child!) it is not a crime to have sex with dumb people. Stress and sleep deprivation impair judgment, but people cannot escape the responsibility of valid contracts by claiming they had a bad day/didn’t get enough sleep and therefore did not truly consent to the terms. Money impairs judgment, but it wouldn’t seem fair to allow someone to claim rape after the fact in such a fashion – “I was impressed with her wealth, which impaired my judgment. If I hadn’t been swayed by money, I wouldn’t have had sex with her, so I was raped.”
People also don’t get out of contracts by claiming drunkenness. Very relevantly, Lucy v. Zehmer was a case wherein a bunch of drunk people were having a grand old time, and one of the drunk people, Zehmer, jotted down on a restaurant receipt, “We hereby agree to sell to W. O. Lucy the Ferguson Farm complete for $50,000.00…” Zehmer later tried to claim he was drunk and didn’t mean it, but the court upheld the contract, finding that the outward appearances pointed to a valid contract, even if Zehmer had imbibed quite a bit of alcohol.
Like with drunkenness, on the extreme end of the spectrum, there may indeed be a complete lack of consent if someone was so anxious as to be mentally ill and incapable of consent, or so tired they were actually unconscious. But until it approaches that point, the mere fact of impaired judgment in and of itself does not negate consent if outward appearances, or objective factors, indicate there was consent.
This is not to say there aren’t areas of gray, as intoxication and unconsciousness span a wide spectrum, and many situations will require a case-by-case determination. However, if someone gets drunk and is convinced into having sex, it is not rape unless there is actually some physical force or objective lack of consent. I.e. As Lucy instructs, the inquiry is not how drunk either party is; the inquiry is whether the outward appearances indicate it was consensual. As consent is not negated by impaired judgment alone, objective factors such as aggression, violence, threats, and refusals by the victim are key to the inquiry. Admittedly, consent can be difficult to define, but instead of attempting to set parameters, people have become hung up on this false belief that drinking alcohol, which is a voluntary act undertaken by adults, somehow negates personal responsibility.
To compare – people who are born stupid cannot escape contractual obligations they have made with smarter people by claiming the smarter person “took advantage” of their lower IQ. Regardless of the intelligence differential, a person attempting to avoid contractual duties is held to the same contractual standards as the rest of society. People born stupid similarly cannot claim rape when a smarter person has sex with them (thereby “taking advantage” of their “impaired judgment”). That being the case, people should not be able to deny responsibility when they make impaired decisions after voluntarily ingesting alcohol.
The fact someone regrets it the next day doesn’t mean he or she objectively refused consent the night before. The fact he/she wouldn’t have consented if sober is also irrelevant (again, see Lucy). People do all kinds of things when drunk that they otherwise wouldn’t do – that’s kind of part of the fun (and danger) of being drunk. Many people regret the frankly horrifying binge-eating they engage in with friends after a hard night drinking, but that in no way means their friends violated them and forced food down their throat.
The use of mundane examples of eating burgers and swimming naked in the ocean was not an accident. Much of this discussion revolves around the widely accepted assumption that sex is this big fucking deal. If sex were seen as an experience similar to burger eating, skinny-dipping, or contract-making, no one would be trying to argue that getting drunk negates volition/consent, or that the end result of drunk people having sex should be a prison sentence. In fact, this discussion likely would never even exist. It is for the very reason that sex is placed on a pedestal that people have found the need to create twisted logic and nonsensical rules when it comes to sex.
The reason it is a big deal is probably because as progressive as people pretend to be, a lot of them are still clinging to antiquated, oppressive, and downright stupid notions of sexuality. Monkeys fuck. Cats and dogs fuck. Goats and donkeys fuck. Cows fuck. Llamas fuck. Bugs fucking fuck. They do it to reproduce and spread genes. But when it comes to human beings, there are all these fucking rules (pun intended), and most of all if you’re a woman.
If you’re a woman and you don’t fuck anyone at all, you’re a boring old prude. If you fuck too young or fuck too many, you’re a fucking slutty whorebag. A slutty whorebag is pretty much the worst thing a woman can be. It’s much worse than being a jerk, a dick, or an annoying person. A slut/whore is like the worst thing ever. You bring shame to your family. Other women hate you. Men fuck you but think you’re disgusting (which makes zero sense by the way – if someone is so repulsive, why in god’s name would you put your dick inside?). You’re pretty much the lowest scum to ever walk the earth, reviled, denigrated, and scorned along with murderers and rapists even though you’ve hurt no one – in fact, just the opposite – you’ve probably made plenty of people quite happy.
People who drink too much or shoot too much heroin “have a problem” and are in need of therapy, sympathy, support, and love, but god forbid you fuck too much – clearly, you are an immoral, soulless, wretch.
Wait, actually, the rules are not that simple. If you fuck a ton, but it’s all the same penis, you are totally cool. However, if there were many different penises involved, then you are a horrible, deranged human being. Well, if there were like 5 penises total, over a period of like 10 years, you are probably good to go. But if it was only 5 penises, but it involved two Eiffel Towers and a one night stand, you might still have a problem. It’s very, very, complicated.
This is not an excuse for false rape accusations, which are unforgivable. However, it does provide context to explain why people come up with absurd ideas like, “drinking alcohol negates consent” and “there is no such thing as consensual drunken sex.” It also isn’t surprising that if society beats into women the idea that only degenerate and terrible women are slutty or aggressive about sex, women who were drunk and made a poor decision might have this sort of thought process: “Wait, I did what? But I’m not a depraved, abominable person! I wouldn’t have done that normally… I must have been tricked/drugged/raped…”
Slut-shaming causes women and men to make sex a big fucking philosophical/moral deal when it need not be. We are all a bunch of human beings trying to spread our DNA and our petty genes, just like cats, dogs, goats, and fucking bugs. It’s actually quite base and puerile. This is to say nothing of the fact that assuming a man has the capacity to rape when drunk, but women have no capacity for consent when drunk is paternalistic, condescending, and downright insulting to the intelligence of women. We are sentient, adults, not babies or animals. Anyone who supports the infantilization of women through culture or law in this manner is by definition sexist.
So get over it. If you drank too much and fucked some gross dude, own it. Laugh about it the next day, chastise yourself for making a poor choice if you so wish, see a doctor, and get on with it like a man would. Write about it in your journal and make him a fictional character in one of your short stories. It’s a trivial matter in the grand scheme of things, because self-respect doesn’t come from the number of dicks that have or have not been in your vagina.
If you are a man and your sister or daughter got wasted and had sex with someone beneath her, get off your judgey, Victorian, caveman-like high horse and ask yourself whether your dick, or your soul, is so clean and perfect. If you are a woman and think sluts are everywhere around you, try not to be a mega-bitch because it’s none of your fucking business anyways. If someone you know truly is having so much sex with so many people that it’s literally a mental illness or a severe problem (learn about nymphomania symptoms here), then treat them the way you would a person with any other addiction, not like an immoral waste of life.
People get drunk and do stupid shit sometimes, and some people do stupid shit all the time when sober. That’s life, and there isn’t always a rapist involved.