Allison Levine: Drunken Behavior Is Not Harmless

A few years ago, I was at a party at Portland Cocktail Week. I was talking with a friend when another bartender friend who I had seen before, but never met, walked up to us and started babbling/bragging about this new thing he has figured out. He called it “mouth rape” and said he could walk up to any woman and kiss her (ie. mouth rape her) and get away with it. I stood there in shock, trying to understand exactly what he was saying. And then he turned to me, grabbed me and stuck his tongue down my throat. I pulled away and was speechless. He looked at our friend and said “SEE?!?” They both laughed. I was disgusted and horrified and shocked. But I said nothing. Actually, I was so dumbfounded, I could think of nothing to say. But, I did not forget.

A few months later, back in LA, I was at a bar when I saw him again. He did not recognize me. He did not know me. We were “introduced” to each other. He was much more sober this time and said that it was nice to meet me. I just looked at him and asked him if he did not remember me. He did not. So, I reminded him that he “mouth raped” me. He was horrified (as he should be). I told him that it wasn’t funny. He just cowered a bit and apologized and we went about our business. I would see him from time to time and the first few times, he was awkward around me and would apologize. Eventually it was not awkward to run into each other.

Thankfully it never happened again. But the term alone (mouth rape) disgusts me. Just coming up with that idea is wrong and disrespectful, let alone doing it, which is assault. Sadly, what I have learned over the last few months is that many people do not know the different between misogyny and assault. Too many women across the country have written assault off as “boys talk” or “locker room talk”. It is neither. Sexual assault is wrong and crosses lines that should never be crossed. We need to make sure words and phrases are not used. When one person thinks they are being funny, we need to tell them if their words are hurtful or offensive. We do not need to apologize to them. They need to own their behavior.

Being a professional woman, we learn to be strong and independent. We are told to just move past things. The fact that people have been coming forward lately with their experiences has made me sad but also inspired. I think in a way, it has made us all a little stronger in standing up for ourselves and those around us. For too long, we have excused, rationalized and ignored behavior that should not go unchecked. It has been easier to “forget” about it, not to make a deal about it, not to cause a scene about it. But, every time we do that, we are enabling others to continue with their inappropriate behavior. It is time to stop them; to hold people accountable for their behavior, whether they were sober or drunk when they did it.

#NotGuilty #StrongerTogether #NoIsNo #RespectEachOther #RepectYourself