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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

The Drunken Hookup Double Standard

You’ll hear a guy complain about a girl using him for his bank account but not his body. And for girls, it’s the other way around. Think about it – we don’t hear guys seriously saying, “She took advantage of me!” unless it involved money.

The popular belief is that a girl can’t take advantage of a guy because she can’t physically force him into performing sexual favors for her. But maybe she doesn’t have to when she can use alcohol to her advantage instead, and then the only difference between her and a guy who behaves this way is that she won’t get in trouble for it.
We all know what happens when a sober-ish guy hooks up with a girl who’s been drinking too much. But if a sober girl hooks up with a drunk guy, then what? Is she taking advantage of him? Is it okay?
Heather*, a Cornell University graduate, recalls a girl in her sorority who never drank, but no one really noticed because she always had a good time at mixers and other Greek life events.
“At the end of the night, this girl would be stone cold sober while every guy would be blackout drunk. But she would take one of the guys back to his place and have sex with him. He’d wake up with no recollection of ever inviting her home.
“This happened all the time,” Heather says. “She always took advantage of drunk guys. People say a girl can’t ‘rape’ a guy, but this is pretty darn close.”
In cases like the one given by Heather, the girl gets away with this kind of sexual behavior. And while it might be tempting to exercise sober sexual power over a guy who’s under the influence, it’s not right for some of the same reasons it wouldn’t be right if roles were reversed.

A happy hookup requires a few key ingredients, starting with clear consent and mutual agreement to engage in sexual acts. But when alcohol gets involved, the lines that constitute clear consent become increasingly blurred as the night wears on and inhibitions wear off.
Alexa Joy Sherman, co-author of The Happy Hook-Up: A Single Girl’s Guide to Casual Sex, says, “A girl should never assume a guy has consented to having sex unless he specifically says he wants it—even if that guy is sporting an erection, an erection is not a sexual green light.”

In a drunken state of mind, can a guy provide consent? Is he thinking or seeing clearly when he’s drunk? Will he have next-day regret? Would he ever hook up with the girl when he’s sober?

Because of these questions and others surrounding the topic at hand, Sherman says, “Drunk sex is never a good idea.”

Following a few simple rules of common courtesy will lead to less regrets in the morning light and the whole hookup experience will be more positive for everyone involved.
In a four-part series, we’ll explore different facets of the drunken hookup double standard, seeking to expose some preconceived notions that aren’t lining up with what’s really happening in sexual encounters between men and women. Each article is dedicated to recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Alexa Joy Sherman, co-author of The Happy Hook-Up: A Single Girl’s Guide to Casual Sex
*All names of college students have been changed to protect the anonymity of the sources.