Hofstra Gang Rape Wasn't Rape—but It Wasn't OK

Drunken sexual encounters trivialize the problem of real rape
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2009 12:13 PM CDT
Kevin Tavares, second from left, Stalin Felipe, center, and Rondell Bedward, right, talk to a reporter, left, after they were released from the Nassau County Jail   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – It’s clear now that the alleged Hofstra gang rape in a campus bathroom—in which a young woman said 5 guys tied her to a stall and attacked her—was not rape, by any legal definition. Confronted with a cell phone video, the woman recanted within 72 hours, admitting that the sex was consensual. So what was it, Emily Bazelon asks on Double X. Feminists have tried to make sense of alcohol-fueled college sex gone bad with the discredited "date rape," and now “gray rape”—encounters in which no one is quite sure the next day who agreed to what.

The hook-up culture has blurred the line "between consenting and being sexually assaulted," she notes, and date rape, even when the accusation is legitimate, is almost impossible to prove. “It often comes down to two competing accounts,” Bazelon writes. “Add drugs or alcohol to the mix, and you can pretty much forget it.” The young Hofstra student surely did women a disservice, trivializing real rape by going to the police. But the real issue is "how these late-night moments in a random bathroom that everyone regrets can stop before they start."