Content warning: This article contains sensitive information about sexual assault. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673.
Since the ripe age of 12, I could recite all of the rules from memory:
Don’t leave your cup unattended.
Follow the buddy system.
Don’t be alone with men.
My family and I always knew I would get into college, so while my male counterparts spent their adolescence studying for the ACTs and researching university programs, my parents were busy teaching me an entirely different lesson in preparation for college: How to not get roofied at fraternity or house parties.
As a first-generation college student and an eldest daughter, it goes without saying that my family was completely and utterly terrified for me to move out and start attending parties.
And so began, at the beginning of my middle school career, a long string of lectures and inappropriate table talk that all centered how to avoid being sexually assaulted.
For years I listened to horrible stories of smart women, like me, getting taken advantage of by infuriatingly smarter men. I watched documentaries about poor souls who never returned home. I was introduced to every cup condom, rape whistle and color-changing straw under the sun.
My years of studying and research have led me to this moment.
Welcome to “How to not get roofied: A survival guide,” by me, as taught by my parents:
Step One: Don’t attend parties in the first place. I’m aware this sounds crazy and stupid, but women are not entitled to the same college experiences as men. Because some men can’t control themselves, it is impossible to guarantee that you won’t be drugged, assaulted or even killed. In short, you have to miss out on normal experiences because you were born with the generational curse of a vagina.
Step Two: If step one can’t be avoided, your next step is to not enjoy the party. If you don’t want to be roofied, then you can’t afford to drink, smoke or laugh. Cups could be drugged, blunts could be laced and laughter could give the wrong impression that you’re available or interested. If you insist on attending a party, do so with the utmost misery and paranoia.
Step Three: Spend all of your time and money trying to avoid something you’ve always been taught is inevitable. I know you grew up hearing the statistics; one in four and 93%, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dedicate your entire life catering to men or their needs. If you insist on attending a party and enjoying yourself, at least equip yourself with the proper tools. The following are all gotta-haves, not wanna-haves: cup condom, color changing straw and nail polish, rape whistle, pepper spray, guard dog and knight’s armor. Please be advised that while none of these items have been guaranteed to stop men in the past, they’re better than nothing.
Now that you’ve completed the course I have to mention some disclaimers.
I grew up hearing these rules.
Repeating these rules back to myself.
Eating, sleeping, breathing these rules.
I walked with friends. I covered my cup when dancing. I remained vigilant of my surroundings. I called an Uber when it started to get dark. I never smoked anything offered to me. I was careful not to smile too big or laugh too loud or wear too little.
I followed all of the rules.
And I was still drugged.
I spent three days in the hospital to get it out of my system.
You can follow all of these rules. You can do everything “right.” But some men will continue to drug, assault or kill women. Whether they have fun at parties or not.
Teaching women to hate themselves and to exist in fear solves nothing.
Teach men not to roofie and if that fails, teach them real consequences — a better survival guide, by me.
Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.