One gender is more likely to believe that roofies are just a totally fun thing that helps liven up parties, you know?
While there’s a market for products that can detect date-rape drugs, there isn’t much data on the prevalence of drink-spiking. A group of researchers set out to estimate the frequency of these drugs on college campuses and found gender differences that are upsetting, but not totally surprising.
For a new study published in the journal Psychology of Violence researchers sent a drink-spiking survey to 6,064 students at three schools: the University of South Carolina, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Cincinnati. About 62 percent were women, 37 percent were men, and 1 percent didn’t identify their gender.
They found that 462 students (7.8 percent of the total) reported 539 incidents where they believed or knew they’d been drugged and 83 people reported 172 incidents where they drugged someone or knew someone who had. Women were more likely to be victims than men (79 percent versus 21 percent), and they were also more likely to report negative consequences. For example, 16.8 percent of women victims had what the researchers call unwanted or forced sex — otherwise known as rape in a situation where consent can’t be given — compared to 6.4 percent of male victims.
Gender differences were also apparent when it came to motives for drink-spiking. Of the people who admitted to drugging someone or knew a person who did, the two most common motives cited were “to have fun” and “sex/sexual assault.” And wouldn’t you know it? Men were more likely to say that roofies were totally just for fun whereas women thought they were being used in order to have sex. As one male student responded: “I put happiness in their drinks.”
The same gender divide held true when looking at the responses of people who believed they were victims. When asked “Why do you think someone put a drug in your drink?” the No. 1 response was “sex/sexual assault” and, unsurprisingly, women were more likely to say this than men. Men who thought they’d been drugged most often thought it was for fun.
Now, the authors have no way of knowing if the victims were actually drugged or whether they’d had too much alcohol, and people can only guess at the motives of others. But this study points out that even if some people truly believe that spiking drinks is a harmless prank, it’s still doing something to another person’s body without their consent. And even if the spiker doesn’t do something awful, someone else still could.