|BYU students protest the role of honor code investigations follow the reporting of sexual assaults among the university's students.|
I'm doing very little of anything other than intense studying these days. My reading material is limited essentially to content I need to review in preparation for Step 1 of the USMLE. (There. I said it again out loud, or at least wrote the name of the exam. Doing so continues to make me nervous, though I would expect that if lightning were going to strike me dead for referring so explicitly to the gatekeeper exam, I would already be six feet under.)
In any event, though I have little time for pleasure reading, I took the time to re-read Sarah Helpola's Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. Reading the book was a most welcome diversion from reviewing the symptoms of (and i'm not exaggerating in the least) every medical condition under the sun and some that aren't.
My extended family has a bit of shared history with Ms. Hepola, a journalist who wrote and edited for, among other publications, Salon magazine. my cousin and her first-cousin-once-removed were fans of Sarah Hepola and frequently responded to her blog posts. Ms. Hepola had a fascination with all things Mormon at the time, which eventually led to a two-part interview with my cousin and her cousin. The interview may still be accessible in some long-forgotten archives somewhere on the Internet, though I wouldn't have a clue as to how to go about finding it.
Sarah Hepola's book is probably the most excruciatingly honest memoir I've ever read. She doesn't spare a single self-incriminating detail of her drinking exploits as far as I I can tell. She writes of taking her clothing off when drinking and of waking up in the beds of strangers following alcohol-induced blackouts. She shares details of her very early introduction to sex at the hands [or, more literally, at the phallus] of a man far older than she. Her life, even up to the point when she reached the age I presently am, is one I could scarcely imagine.
I've been cautioned by a few presumably well-intentioned individuals about the evils of alcohol consumption, though I don't buy into most of what I would consider scare tactics along these lines. I'm aware that being under the influence of alcohol can leave any person -- particularly one of my gender and size -- more vulnerable than she would otherwise be.
Still, it will be my choice to continue to imbibe [albeit relatively moderately] on occasion. After careful consideration, I have decided that a couple of drinks in one sitting when I'm surrounded by people I have good reasons to trust will not place me in any particular peril. I haven't consumed any alcohol other than my twice-weekly half bottle of Guinness, which I detest but drink for health reasons, since my birthday nearly five months ago. I have no idea when I will again feel compelled to drink myself into the nirvana-like state between buzzed and wasted, though I know it will happen.
In relation to the negative press BYU is getting over enforcing its controversial honor code in relation to the reporting of sexual assault, I've certainly thought about alcohol consumption and its role in creating vulnerability. I don't have a great deal to say about the particular issue because I don't feel that there is much more to be said about it. A person needs to have a solid handle on how much he or she can drink and still maintain control of his or her circumstances. On the other hand, it was with good reason that I chose not to attend Brigham Young University, where I would be subjected to the draconian policies of the LDS-operated institution. Besides, BYU doesn't even have a medical school. I'd be finished with them by now even had I done my undergraduate work there.
I don't think there are many rational minds out there who would place the blame on a woman who was sexually assaulted for having consumed alcohol prior to the assault. For me, though, I don't want merely not to be blamed. If I drink, it will be to have a good time that is not spoiled by the prospect of assault of any kind. I will always be careful where and with whom I drink, but I could not ever take another drink for the rest of my life and still be sexually assaulted again. The last time I was assaulted, alcohol played no role.. Life offers few guarantees.