An op-ed piece in the student newspaper at Southern Methodist University is gaining national attention after arguing that women can "prevent sexual assaults" by "drinking responsibly."
In the Daily Campus op-ed, contributing writer Kirby Wiley suggests that there is a link between female students' overindulgence of alcohol and sexual assaults.
Wiley wrote, "The best way for women to prevent these assaults from happening to them is to never drink so much that they cannot control themselves or remember what happened the next day. If women quit putting themselves in situations where they appear vulnerable, it will be much less likely for men to try and take advantage of them."
Wiley then said the media should pay closer attention to this "trend."
"If the media would focus more attention on the fact that the majority of the women who are sexually assaulted are intoxicated, as opposed to stating and restating how horrible the perpetrator is, then maybe young women would start to listen,” she wrote.
The piece quickly gained opposition from gender and sexual rights groups on the campus of the Dallas-based school. A Change.org petition was launched, urging the Daily Campus to "STOP publishing articles contributing to rape culture and misogyny in general."
A letter was posted on the Daily Campus website Sunday by two recent editors that also criticized Wiley's piece for "plac[ing] the blame for sexual assaults on their victims."
"Needless to say, this is not an appropriate way to report on a serious problem affecting colleges around the country,” the letter said.
In response to the controversy, the Daily Campus ran a news report of the backlash and the entire Change.org petition, along with a separate guest column from petitioners. A note from the editorial board explaining the paper's opinion page policies was also published.
In the news story, Wiley claimed “I wasn’t careful enough with my wording."
"I was trying to promote media attention to look at the other side and to tell people that alcohol involvement is overlooked. Maybe if it was [covered more], college women would be more conscious when they drink,” Wiley said.
In an email to CNN, Wiley said “The purpose of my column was to call the media’s attention to an often overlooked side of sexual assault and rape cases on and around college campuses — the all-too-common intoxication of victims. I feel the facts of a woman being too intoxicated should also be included in reports, not to place blame or any additional stress on the victim, but rather to inform other women of this factor that studies have shown increases the risk of sexual assaults.”
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