Is consent present when someone is in a black out?
I’m sitting here thinking about consent, reality TV and alcohol.
All because of The Bachelor in Paradise.
This week, production on the Bachelor in Paradise was shut down. Various sources are reporting that the shut down happened due to a possible sexual assault.
The Bachelor in Paradise is a spin off of The Bachelor. The show bring back contestants from previous seasons of The Bachelor to hang out all together at a resort. Things get messy. Lots of alcohol is available. And everyone gets “another chance at love”.
According to multiple sources, two contestants got drunk and engaged in sexual activity in the pool (while being filmed, in front of a crew, of course). Later, one of those contestants said that she has no memory of the sexual contact, that it was not consensual and the producers should have stopped it.
TMZ states in an article that the contestant was “lucid” during the time sexual contact occurred, but, later she could barely walk and was “wearing her clothes inside out”.
Lots of alcohol. Cameras. Sex.
Does it matter if she was “lucid”?
No. It doesn’t.
She may have appeared utterly, completely, testifying-in-congress-worthy lucid, but been totally 100% gone in a black out.
Alcohol is tricky. Large amounts of alcohol consumed quickly, especially on an empty stomach can be even more slippery. It’s a recipe for a black out.
A black out is a reaction to alcohol consumption that prevents the brain from creating new memories and/or allows the creation very short term memories that disappear. The person who is experiencing a black out may appear to be present, may have control of their motor skills and may appear to be capable of making decisions. The person appears to be functioning, but they aren’t actually present, capable of decision making or of giving consent to sexual activity.
Black outs are most likely to happen when someone drinks alcohol quickly, and/or on an empty stomach. Women, as a group are slightly more likely to experience blackouts. Researchers also believe that there is a genetic component that makes some people more prone to blackouts than others.
How do you know that someone is in a black out? You may not be able to tell at all.
So what do you do? If you or your potential partner have really been throwing them back, how do you know if either of you are really present and able to give consent? The conservative answer is, if you and/or your partner have been hitting the alcohol hard, don’t have sex.
Right. I know. That doesn’t sound fun. The good news about this option is, later, you're sober, if you choose to have sex, it will be way better. Alcohol makes it more difficult to feel things. Sex is definitely something you want to feel! Alcohol can make it harder to be clear about what kinds of things you love to give and receive, but the next day? You can be clear as hell and set the world on fire.
Do you still want to go ahead? The thought of having awesome sex when you’re sober isn’t enough? Here’s where you need to think about consequences. Do you want to wake up the next morning next to someone who is surprised to see you there? Who doesn’t remember taking off their clothes with you? Or having sex with you? To realize that you had sex with someone who didn’t consent? That, intentionally or not, you violated that person? Regardless of intention, the harm is real. That’s a horrible position to be in.
So take the safer, sexier road and wait til you're sober.
Maybe brush your teeth first.