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People Under the Influence Can’t Give Consent, Period

Daniella Jurado, Staff Writer

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   Planned Parenthood defines sexual consent as “an agreement to participate in any sexual activities” (plannedparenthood.org). According to School Police Officer Tom Gray, “In the state of California, if you are under the age of 18, you cannot have sex. It doesn’t matter if you’re under the influence or not, you are not old enough to give consent to have sex. Technically that would be statutory rape.”

   However, I think we need to take a look at this realistically and admit that teenagers have sex. It happens. Instead of pretending that all teenagers practice sexual abstinence, let’s take a look at how safe sex can be practiced. Part of safe sex is consensual sex and one of the guidelines of consent is that if a person is intoxicated then they can’t give true consent to engage in any sexual activity.

   Normally, consent is easier to recognize because the people involved are sober and they haven’t been drinking or using drugs. But what happens when drugs or alcohol come into play? The problem is that people have a hard time knowing when someone else has reached their limit and that’s because substances like alcohol and drugs have different effects on different people. We can’t say that after drinking a certain amount of drinks or taking a certain amount of hits, a person can’t give consent, because it wouldn’t apply to everyone. That’s what makes this issue such a gray area when it shouldn’t be. If a person is intoxicated at all, they are not in control of their bodies and cannot give consent.

   It should be extremely explicit that your partner is agreeing to any sexual activity, without the influence of other substances affecting their mindsets. According to Dartmouth’s online article about sex, drugs, and alcohol, “You can get consent from someone who has been drinking and/or using drugs as long as it is clear, voluntary, and unambiguous” (dartmouth.edu). The keywords in that quote are “clear” and “unambiguous.” In other words, if you have any doubt about whether your partner is sober enough to give consent, it’s better to back off and side towards caution.

   “Just don’t take any chances,” said Junior Michaela Harding. Senior Jude El-Nahhas also added, “[If] the person under the influence is giving permission, the other person shouldn’t accept it as consent.” Meaning that if someone who is drunk or high is saying yes, it is up to the person who is sober to be responsible and make the decision not to participate in any sexual activity. They should know that any person under the influence isn’t able to make conscious choices and instead make sure the person stays safe until they sober up. As Senior Jacob Freedman said, “If someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs then it’s not okay to have sex, no matter what.”

   What is truly concerning is that some people believe that a person who is drunk or high should be taken seriously when giving consent. According to a junior who the Commander believes should remain anonymous, “They [people under the influence] still have a little bit of sense in them” …and if the person who wasn’t in their right state of mind later regrets what happened, then “…it’s just a lesson for them to learn from.” But what is that lesson the person will learn? That they shouldn’t feel safe when they go out? That they have to go through life living in fear? Being raped while intoxicated is not a decent lesson for anyone to learn. And people who are drunk or high really don’t have any sense about them, if they do, it’s minimal. They are under the influence, meaning that they are not in control of their own minds or bodies.

   Make smart choices. If you’re with someone and things are getting hot and heavy, make sure that the person is completely aware of what is going on and that he or she has verbalized consent to sexual activity. Because if the person is drunk or high, then it’s not true consent.

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People Under the Influence Can’t Give Consent, Period