Stanford University has deleted a page warning women about the dangers of alcohol after critics complained the page was sexist and patronizing, and constituted “victim-blaming” because it linked drinking to sexual assault.
The page, titled “Female Bodies and Alcohol,” was mostly a straightforward description of the effects alcohol has on women, and in particular, how the effects differ from those alcohol has on men.
“A woman will get drunk faster than a man consuming the same amount of alcohol,” the guide warns. The rate of inebriation holds true even at the same body weight, it notes, because men have a higher amount of water in their bodies (which dilutes alcohol more) and have higher levels of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. The guide also says that women develop alcohol-related organ damage (such as liver cirrhosis) more easily than men.
The guide also goes to length about the often-unfortunate role alcohol can play in sexual encounters.
“By some accounts, alcohol is involved in as many as 75% of sexual assaults on a college campus,” the guide says. “Research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be. Therefore, women can be targeted with unwanted attentions due to that misperception … It’s important to take action to protect friends and others from potential assault or other regretted behavior as a result of drinking.” (RELATED: Stanford Bans Liquor At Parties, Restricts Bottle Sizes)
The advice all clearly means well, but critics at the school claimed the entire page was actually troubling and sexist. Sasha Perigo, a student, tweeted that the article was “patronizing” and “victim-blaming.”
— Sasha Perigo (@sashaperigo) August 22, 2016
Professor Michele Dauber expressed a similar view that the school was “blaming women for getting drunk” as a way to avoid confronting sexual assault itself.
Show universities how to stop blaming women for getting drunk and start blaming perpetrators for assault. https://t.co/
— Michele Dauber (@mldauber) August 23, 2016
Stanford moved rapidly to mitigate the outrage. Initially, the page was just edited to remove the content related to sex, but shortly after the page was deleted entirely. Now, the page is simply a gender-neutral one about how alcohol is metabolized by the body. At the top, Stanford included an apology for the first article.
“We would like to apologize for an outdated and insensitive article on women and alcohol that was here,” the apology says. “The content of the article did not reflect the values of our office. We are sorry for the harm that the article may have caused people who read it.”
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