Lockhart Steele, the former editorial director at Vox Media was fired from his position on October 20 after allegations of sexual assault. Vox stated that Steele’s actions are not in line with the company’s values and that further allegations would be investigated.
Vox claims its goal is “fostering a safe and welcoming community”.
In order to do this, Vox Media cancelled its open bar at its holiday party in favor of two drink tickets.
While the Editorial Board believes that limiting alcohol could potentially decrease the sexual assault that occurs at the party, we believe that this is a superficial one that does not address the underlying problems with sexual assault.
Rather than removing alcohol from the company party, Vox should be removing people who make other employees feel uncomfortable. Alcohol doesn't sexually harass workers, employees who never should have been hired in the first place do.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that just half of the sexual assault cases involve alcohol either by the “perpetrator, victim or both.”
However, while alcohol consumption is correlated with the occurrence of sexual assault, it is not proven to cause sexual abuse. The study also found that wanting to commit sexual assault could lead a perpetrator to drink more.
Additionally, women who drink more heavily have a positive correlation with sexual victimization.
Though alcohol consumption occurs with sexual assault, we think that Vox Media’s actions do not do enough to address the problems associated with sexual assault.
There are more underlying problems associated with sexual assault than just alcohol consumption. There are also questions about the perpetrator’s pathology, overall cultural trends and the perceived sexual availability of women.
Anna Voremberg, managing editor of the End Rape on Campus, stated that alcohol bans aren’t effective. “They don’t prevent sexual assault … Alcohol doesn’t cause rape.”
Vox Media’s actions does not really address the underlying problems of sexual assault. Instead, an alternate prevention program should be used instead.
The Center for Disease Control has only shown three programs to be effective in preventing sexual assaults. In order to have an effective program, these programs need to address multiple conditions and causes, and offer multiple strategies on how to address the problem.
Limiting employees to two drinks rather than reevaluating hiring practices and company culture is a superficial fix to a deep-seeded problem.