Too Intoxicated To Consent

According to the Criminal Code of Canada if a person is too intoxicated to give consent regardless of if they fail to resist or say no, it is considered rape. However, what exactly is “too intoxicated”? If a young woman is intoxicated but does not pass out is she able to consent? What part did she play in her sexual assault?

craft-beer-nightA young girl goes out partying, has too much to drink and passes out. She wakes up the next day naked and disoriented. She knows sexual activity took place but without her consent. Numerous sexual assault centres are hearing similar stories from teenage girls at an alarmingly increasing rate. What happens to a girl in these circumstances? The answer varies.


If there were nude pictures taken of the woman, a video made of the incident or witnesses willing to testify, then the case has potential to succeed in court. Conversely, if there is a lack of such evidence, the police are often forced to inform the victim that the case won’t go far. If the accused is able to create reasonable doubt that they committed the crime, the court is more likely to drop the case against the accused.  Legally speaking, this is a sound decision as judges cannot convict someone when there are reasonable grounds to believe they did not commit the crime.

Juries and Judges

According to an article published in the Windsor Star, judges and juries often consider the “traditional standards” of how a woman should be behaving when partying or intoxicated when assessing the case. If the woman was forced to take drugs or alcohol, or was intoxicated without her knowledge, then the judge and jury are more likely to believe that she was raped.

According to Janine Benedet, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, society still supports the deep rooted mentality of “did she ask for it?” Victim-blaming can have countless damaging implications ranging from bullying to suicide. The infamous cases of Rehtaeh Parsons and Steubenville high school are clear examples of the impacts of victim blaming. It is no surprise that many victims refuse to come forward about sexual assault to avoid the stigma. There have been cases where victims have been held captive, sexually and physically assaulted but did not attempt to escape because they felt no one in society including their family would accept them.

Victim Blaming “Boys will be boys but girls should know better”.

Supporters of this mentality argue that boys do not understand the extent to which their actions can impact others but girls do; thus, girls are supposed to be more responsible and take necessary precautions.  In opposition, many argue that this mentality is not only outdated but degrading to males and females alike as it suggests that males can’t control themselves and females are responsible for being raped. Janine Benedet has argued that juries and judges setting unreasonable, practically impossible standards for women to obtain the justice they deserve.

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Points of Discussion:

1. What are your thoughts?
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  1. This is something that has caused controversy in the U.S. as well. I don’t know what to think of it honestly. When their is alcohol involved and both parties are intoxicated then both should take responsibility. However, whether it be male or female, and one takes advantage of the other, then at what point is it considered rape so to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a very interesting point. I think this is a concern in most first world countries. It’s unfortunate. Intoxication complicates matters because intoxication levels vary among individuals- there is no objective way to determine how intoxicated the person was at the time of the act. I think the conversation becomes more gray than black and white for first time drinkers – these individuals don’t know what their tolerance levels are or what the implications might be. Factors such as peer pressure, intoxication, environment, intent and circumstances play a larger role in ruling in a rape case. For instance, Bill Cosby, a well – established t.v personality, was presumed innocent despite the number of women who spoke up against him until it was proven otherwise. Many of these women were painted a “gold -diggers” looking to make money. Conversely, a young 16 year old girl who commits suicide due to being bullied and having her nude pictures of the incident distributed among her peers is more of a clear case. It’s interesting how society will view cases depending on the circumstances around the crime than the crime itself. That’s not to say that the crime scene isn’t important because of course it is but surrounding factors apart from the act itself highly impact the outcome.

      Thank you so much Jabrush for sharing your thoughts! I always enjoying reading your comments and entertaining new insights. I hope to keep hearing from you! Thank you for your support and encouragement! I appreciate it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can absolutely see where there is a fine line when it comes to intoxication playing a role in sexual acts and consent. The victim blaming is beyond me however I can unfortunately see why these “traditional standards” are still rather prevalent in society today. As a female, if I went to a party and was drinking, I would take precautions to ensure that either I do not get that drunk to the point that I am not in full control of my behavior or that I have trusted individuals looking out for me should the situation arise. I would avoid at all costs putting myself in a position where I would perhaps engage in an act that later I would believe to be against my will. So yes, I get it, I’m careful, I was taught to be; taught to understand that I cannot control other peoples’ actions therefore I should do what is in my control to help myself. Is this logical? Absolutely. But fair? Not so much.

    What I do find fantastic is that things are starting to be put into perspective from both sides of the coin. “Boys will be boys but girls should know better” is a baseless standard which truly is detrimental to BOTH sexes. By accounting for both males and females, we can be all-inclusive about the negative impact this issue has created from all sides. Perhaps with this, men can feel like they are not always portrayed as predators and be more inclined to get involved with promoting change. Sure, women should take some precaution to an extent, however that is not to say that boys should not be able to control their so-called “animalistic urges”. Everyone should understand that if both parties are not in full consciousness agreeing to the sexual act, that it’s not considered consensual.

    Again, that fine line comes into play when a woman wakes up after a night of intoxication and sex and decides that this was not right. Though she may have been a willing participant while under the influence, she may not have been otherwise and this does factor into the situation. I am not quite sure how this should be addressed in courts, but am interested to see how it will pan out. Like many other situations, this is a topic that is rather subjective and I can see how it may vary on a case-by-case basis. Who should the court believe, who is the one to trust especially in the absence of evidence?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe many individuals would agree with you. It’s difficult to assess how one should address such an issue. The tricky part for judges is that their decisions establish precedents and future cases are often handled in the same way (in accordance to the ruling). Judges have to avoid being too harsh on the accused without solid evidence as the decision can ruin their life if they are innocent. Many wrongly convicted individuals are never able to live a normal life again upon their release into society, a public apology on behalf of the justice system and a cleared name because the stigma persists. Conversely, when a young life is lost due to injustice, the public was “justice” but really somehow to point a finger at and be angry with. As humans we feel safer knowing who the perpetrator is because it allows us to feel safe. We feel the wrongdoer has been punished and the world is safe again because the person isn’t lingering out in the open unidentified. It’s a difficult predicament for judges to address, balancing public safety with individual rights.

      Thank you so much for your comment! I enjoy reading and responding back to your thoughts. It’s always great to have intellectual conversation about these matters. I enjoy reading your perspective! I hope to keep hearing from you! Cheers 🙂


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