I like a drink. Sometimes I like one or two drinks. Sometimes I like to drink more than five cocktails and dance with my best friends, my hair as big as all the secrets that will spill out that night, lips loosened by gin and cigarette smoke.
Sometimes I’m sensible when I’m drunk and I walk home with a friend or get a taxi. Sometimes I’m stupid and I walk home by myself, stumbling into bushes and trying to kidnap any cat that crosses my path. Luckily nothing has ever happened to me whilst I’ve walked home alone, bar a period where I kept drunk ordering on Amazon and thought I had a secret admirer who was sending me thoughtful (if slightly random) gifts.
Did I mention that I have to cross a busy highway to get home? Lots of cars. Kind of scary. Most drivers are pretty good about not running my drunk ass over, but a certain percentage of drivers just don’t pay as much attention as they should, for whatever reason, and occasionally pedestrians get squashed, with varying degrees of injury.
Oh, I should also add that THAT’S AGAINST THE LAW! Pedestrians have the right of way here, always. No one is allowed, by law, to run you over with their car.
I count myself lucky that every time I’ve walked home by myself, I’ve been fine. However, I keep seeing the same tired horrible point made in drink awareness campaigns focused at women – women shouldn’t drink too much and cross busy highways in case they get run over.
The linking of excessive alcohol consumption with getting hit by a car is ridiculous and crosses the dividing line between someone being responsible for the amount of the alcohol they drink and someone getting hit by a car and being partially responsible because they were excessively drunk. If I go out and get drunk and get hit by a car what am I responsible for? Being drunk? Being drunk AND run over?
It doesn’t matter if I walk around wasted and stagger along the unpaved shoulder of a highway at 5 am, it doesn’t give anyone else the right to hit me with their car. The only way to avoid getting run over is to not be in the company of drivers, which is unfortunately entirely impossible when you’re crossing a highway.
Duh. Highways have cars! That’s what they’re for!
This drink awareness tactic is often used when talking about precautionary actions to avoid getting hit by cars and links to a dangerous premise – if you take the argument that women ‘should not’ make themselves vulnerable to its logical conclusion what happens? So I go out in a short skirt, get pissed and stagger across a busy highway.
If society says I should not have done that does my less than perfect driver get a lesser sentence to reflect this? Or no sentence? Who would decide what counted as ‘vulnerable’ or enough alcohol? And in what way should it count against me? I just don’t get it.
‘Women shouldn’t drink too much and cross highways for fear of being hit by cars’ soon turns into “Well if she’d followed this advice she wouldn’t have been hit by a car” which turns into ‘It’s her own fault she got hit by a car.’ The conversation about responsible drinking is necessary and important in today’s society but it shouldn’t involve the correlation of pedestrian/car collisions. Drinking to excess carries many other risks that should be highlighted.
I have crossed many a highway while trashed but I didn’t deserve to get run over for it. We are all responsible for our own behaviour of course, but no one deserves to get t-boned by a minivan when they are vulnerable. Taking preventive measures and following common sense rules are always important but with regard to car accidents, they can have little bearing on whether you become a victim or not.
But working to change the culture – educating and targeting people about pedestrians and changing driving attitudes DOES work. Women will never be able to win whilst we are told ‘don’t cross highways’ and ‘don’t be completely trashed’ whilst the statistics tell us that the majority of car collisions do not happen to drunk chicks crossing highways, but rather in broad daylight when everyone is stone cold sober, and that many crashes occur in a place that the woman had previously viewed as a ‘safe place’, like their own street, or the mall parking lot.
What I’m wearing, how drunk I am etc is one thing, but the majority of car accidents happen in situations where vulnerability is the result of trusting other drivers to follow the rules of the road. Adverts that say ‘don’t drink’ are brilliant and advice I should take more often.
I get what people are saying about “everyone should be careful with drinking”, but the thing is that the traffic accident prevention conversation is never couched just in those terms. Not making yourself vulnerable also apparently involves not crossing the highway when you can barely stand, not behaving in a way that could be interpreted as careless about your own safety, not blindly trusting drivers to watch out for you, not crossing highways in the dark etc.
So what is the obvious conclusion? To never walk anywhere a car might be, or to never drive your own vehicle, or to never engage in any activity that involves motorized vehicles? To only spend time with drivers you trust? To never leave the house? Oh shit, many accidents happen in the woman’s own driveway… So what? To move to a desert island with no cars of any kind? Or what? Because I’m seriously running out of options here.
THIS is why telling women and girls not to get drunk and cross the highway isn’t good enough. THIS is why focussing anti-car accident messages on women won’t stop car accidents. What we need is a sea change in how society views and understand women who cross busy highways while trashed. Telling girls to stay sober won’t help the cause.
In fact, by putting the onus on women rather than drivers, it does the opposite. Now where’s that gin?
Now, replace every reference to cars and pedestrians and accidents with RAPE. This is the article the brilliant team at Vagenda Magazine posted to defend women’s right to drink to excess and still be absolved of all personal responsibility in case they get raped.
And by rape, of course, they mean any sexual encounter that happened when a woman was drunk. Drunk women, by definition, cannot consent to sexual activity, therefore all sexual activity is RAPE.
Drunk men? Ssh. Don’t be silly. Drunk men are always accountable for their behaviour.
What can I say about this kind of nonsense? Vagenda really wants to live in a world where women have no agency, no responsibility, no obligation to, oh, I don’t know, BEHAVE LIKE FUCKING ADULTS?
Grow up, ladies. If you want to drink to excess, go right ahead. But don’t think you can turn around and blame everyone else for the consequences. Here’s a newsflash: THE WORLD CONTAINS RAPISTS. Also, really shitty drivers.
If you don’t want to get raped or hit by a car, take some goddamn precautions to protect yourself. It’s really not that hard.
Lots of love,