Saturday, 12 August 2017

Why it’s never ok to say, "but he was drunk"

I don’t think this one needs much explaining.

Obviously, being drunk should not be a valid excuse for anything other than pavement pizzas and loud declarations of undying love. It is not an excuse for violence, abuse or violation. So why do women (people) still hear it said about men (people) who have mistreated them?

“But he was drunk”. Sigh.

I hadn't heard it in a while (it's had such bad press) but someone said it to me last week. The 'incident' had been relatively minor but it had upset me. It involved a male colleague, physical touch and me having to explain in plain words to him the definition of 'violation' and why he couldn't just decide to disagree with the definition if he didn't like it.

The next morning, over breakfast, I explained what had happened to some colleagues/friends and one of them said, "but he was drunk". I replied that obviously that's not an excuse. He said it again a bit later in the conversation. I replied the same again. Then he finally agreed that, no, it's not an excuse.

I realised that my friend was not trying to give the guy an excuse for what he did, but rather he was trying to comfort me. He was trying to reassure me that a) the guy didn't mean to do what he did, that b) it wasn't because of me that he did it, and c) I shouldn't take it personally.

However, I don't need comforting and:

a) If he didn't mean to do what he did then that implies he thought he was behaving just fine. Which is worse.

b) I know it wasn't because of me that he did it. I don't blame myself. It wass because of his own misunderstanding of how to treat people.

c) I don't take it personally. I take it globally.

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