Friday 9 December 2016

Author Louise O'Neill- 'Rape is always the fault of the rapist and the responsibility for the crime lies with them'

Author Louise O'Neill argues that Irish people use alcohol to blame rape victims and make excuses for rapists

Published 07/03/2016 | 02:30

Louise O’Neill
Louise O’Neill

When my novel, Asking For It, was first released, a friend phoned to congratulate me. She then said that she was glad I was highlighting the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and she hoped any young women reading the book would come to the realisation that they needed to drink less if they wanted to ensure they didn't get raped.

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It was an odd moment, but an incredibly revealing one. It had never been my intention for the reader to come to that conclusion. Rather, I had hoped they would see how Irish people often use alcohol as just another way in which to blame victims of sexual violence while simultaneously using it to excuse the behaviour of the perpetrator. However, time and time again, at events and book festivals and school visits across the country, I am asked the same questions - what can we do to stop young people from drinking so much? Surely I agree that alcohol is responsible for most of the sexual violence that happens in Ireland?

I can see why people think this. The permissiveness around the drinking culture here is astounding. To use a gross generalisation, a lot of Irish people drink to get drunk and this need for social lubrication is especially true when it comes to interacting with members of the opposite sex. When I lived in New York, I was asked out on dates on an almost daily basis - at the laundry, in the line at Starbucks, on the Subway. Yes. Men approached me and asked for my number when we were both sober. (The first time it happened I got such a fright I started giggling uncontrollably and my prospective suitor backed away slowly, a panicked expression on his face.)

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