X Close

There is no spiking epidemic Women don't need more reasons to feel afraid

'The stranger-danger archetype is very rare' (Ryan Jenkinson/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'The stranger-danger archetype is very rare' (Ryan Jenkinson/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


November 9, 2021   6 mins

In the Nineties, during the Aids crisis, tales circulated in chain-letter emails — because Facebook hadn’t been invented — about people being deliberately jabbed with HIV-infected needles. The content varied, but they almost all shared a structure: a person feels a mysterious jab in a public place; they realise they have been attacked with an HIV-infected needle, perhaps via a note saying “Welcome to the world of Aids!”; and then the victim would later test positive for HIV.

It’s not that these scares were completely unfounded. People have been convicted for deliberately infecting others with HIV, albeit through sex, not needles. And in 1989, a group of teenage girls were arrested for jabbing women with pins in New York “for fun”. But if there was ever a case of someone infected with HIV by a deliberate needle attack, I can’t find any record of it. The panic was essentially an urban legend, like razor blades hidden in Halloween sweets.

Now, students are reporting being jabbed with needles in nightclubs, not to spread HIV but to drug them. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has called for the police to look into it. It’s part of a wider concern about drink spiking, which recently inspired a national boycott of nightclubs, “Girls Night In”. But how worried should we be?

First, let’s talk about needle druggings. There are stories. In the US, for instance, eight people died at a festival, apparently crushed during a crowd surge. There were unrelated reports of a security guard and others being jabbed with a needle. But none of them have been confirmed.

And jabbing someone with a needle is not easy. One academic I spoke to said that “incapacitating someone with a needle is something the NKVD [the Russian secret police] would have to do”. It hurts, for a start; and getting it into the bloodstream via the leg or back is “really inefficient”. The dosing would be amazingly hard to get right, as would doing it without someone noticing for the several seconds it takes to press the plunger on the syringe. The idea that it’s widespread is incredibly unlikely.

But there are claims, meanwhile, of an “epidemic” of drink spiking. There’s certainly been an increase in the number of cases reported — Harry Sumnall, a professor of substance use at Liverpool John Moores University, says that the number of police-reported incidents has gone up from about 150 in 2006 to 500-600 a year more recently. Of course, that’s not the same as the actual act becoming more common.

Academics and experts I have spoken to are all careful to say that it is important to listen when people say they’ve been drugged. But it’s also important to remember that people’s subjective experiences are not always reliable. As Paul North, a former drug treatment worker and the director of non-profit advocacy organisation Volteface, told me, there are a huge number of anecdotal reports. But it’s really hard to get any data.

So, you can record the number of people who think they’ve been spiked — about 5% of victims of rape and sexual assault think they were drugged, as Sumnall points out. But we know from every other area of psychological science that self-reported data is really unreliable. Ivan Ezquerra-Romano, co-founder and director of the social enterprise Drugs And Me, is also doing a PhD in cognitive psychology, and he says “self-report is something that we as psychologists try to run away from”.

There are a few studies that take toxicology samples from people who come to A&E reporting that they have been spiked, but not very many. Those that do exist tend to find little evidence of drugging. This one from 2007, for instance, sampled the blood and/or urine of 75 suspected spiking cases. They found unexplained drugs (that is, drugs the patient denied taking) in eight of the samples; three of them were cannabis and three were MDMA. GHB and benzodiazepines were each found in one. The report concluded that the use of sedatives to spike drinks “​​may not be as common as reported in the mainstream media”.

A more recent review of the literature, which looks at a variety of studies from around the world, found similar results. It concluded that drink-spiking “appears to be an un-common occurrence in drug facilitated sexual assault”. “In the majority of cases that get investigated, the substances are impossible to detect,” says Giulia Zampini, a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Greenwich.

There are possible explanations for this, of course. One is that GHB, in particular, is very quickly metabolised, especially if authorities are slow to take samples; so perhaps there’s under-reporting of spiking incidents. But equally, as an academic I spoke to pointed out, sometimes it’s easier to say – to the police, or one’s parents or employers – that you were drugged than that you took drugs recreationally.

This doesn’t mean that “drug-facilitated sexual assault” isn’t a real and widespread problem. It’s just that on the whole, the people — the, let’s face it, men — who are doing it don’t need to use fancy drugs, and don’t need to slip it into a stranger’s drink in a nightclub. The focus on one particular archetype of “spiking” — the stranger slipping a clear liquid into a woman’s drink in a club, as in the BBC drama I May Destroy You — distracts from a more complex social problem.

“The stranger-danger archetype is very rare,” says Zampini. “In every aspect of rape and sexual assault, it is much more common in an environment where there’s a relationship of some kind.”

And in most cases of drug-facilitated sexual assault, the drug is alcohol. Sometimes it’s the perpetrator buying stronger drinks than the victim expected — a double instead of a single, say. Sometimes it’s that the victim voluntarily drinks more than they are able to handle, and the perpetrator then takes advantage. “There’s a lack of recognition of how vulnerable alcohol can make you, if consumed in large quantities,” says Zampini. “And there is a dangerous binge drinking culture in universities — drinking is down compared to past generations, but still prevalent. And people can confuse the effects of alcohol with other drugs.”

But as North and Zampini say, the important thing is the intent to harm, not the particular drug used to do it. If a man buys a woman drinks with the intent of getting her too drunk to consent, or takes advantage of a woman who is already too drunk to consent, that’s just as bad as slipping illicit drugs into her drinks.

The concern is that, in a rush to be seen to be doing something, authorities and nightclubs might start cracking down on drugs — more CCTV, more searches at the door. “These tougher responses don’t work,” Zampini says. “If people want to sneak drugs into clubs they’ll do so.” What should be happening — and pleasingly is happening — is a focus on protecting people rather than cracking down on drugs. “There have been some recent good steps that have been taken in providing harm reduction,” says Zampini: things like identifying harassers on the dance floor, and throwing them out, rather than throwing out people for “taking half a pill”.

Even if drugs were eliminated, as long as there’s a binge-drinking culture in UK universities, drug-facilitated sexual assault will remain a risk. Spiking probably isn’t a major driver of it — although Ezquerra —Romano notes that on the gay scene, where GHB and GBL are used recreationally for chemsex, it’s more likely, because the drugs are widely available. But in the university-nightclub scenario that most of the recent media attention has been on, alcohol is probably the main cause.

We can’t blame victims, but we shouldn’t be reluctant to suggest measures to protect themselves. “There’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to take steps to ensure their own safety,” Zampini says. “But the onus of responsibility shouldn’t be on women. Otherwise it’s like the old idea of women dressing provocatively and asking for it.” So the authorities need to facilitate those steps. For instance: if we’re going to say to women that they should cover their drinks, then clubs should provide lids.

And it’s worth getting better data on drink spiking, in case it’s more common than we think. That’s something Ezquerra-Romano is working on: for instance, he suggests drug vapes that record the amount you’ve taken via a smartphone app, so that if you do a blood test later you can compare the expected blood concentration for the amount you’ve taken with what is actually found. (Existing “colour dye” tests for spiking drugs are “worse than useless,” in Sumnall’s experience.)

But it’s more likely that drink spiking is rare, focused on by the media because the narrative is simple: the innocent victim and the calculating, predatory stranger. I worry (and everybody I spoke to for this piece agreed) that focusing on these sympathetic but unrepresentative cases is a bad idea. A woman who gets drunk voluntarily is just as much a victim, if a man takes advantage of her, as is someone who is drugged. It’s not that drink-spiking victims are the “real”, or the virtuous, ones.

The Nineties-era HIV scare died away. But fascinatingly, the recent surge in “jabbing” scare stories has revived it: false stories of young women infected by HIV in UK cities have been circulating alongside the drug-scare ones. Those stories we know are untrue; I suspect that drink-spiking is real, but rare. But it’s definitely true that men take advantage of drunk women. That’s just as bad, and far more common. Creating extra reasons for women to feel afraid does not seem wise.


Tom Chivers is a science writer. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now.

TomChivers

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

76 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

If it turns out that there is really nothing in this scare then there are still big psychological or social psychological question to be answered.
Why do people think it is happening, why do such beliefs spread, and why are certain activists so willing to believe it that they launch a protest movement on the back of it? Do these various actors have a particular psychological profile? Are they unusually anxious or neurotic? Do they have other mental health issues, or even personality disorders?
Are these scares gendered, and if so, why? They do seem to affect women more than men. Is a generally anti male animus in our culture to some extent to blame? How much of the spread of these fears is down to activists making ideological hay out of them?

J Brown
J Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

You men! I was drugged 34 years ago, aged 18 and on a family holiday in Mauritius. He spiked my Coca Cola at a New Years Eve dinner, at the restaurant table, full of people and carried me off to his car when I lost the use of my legs. I lost consciousness before I reached his car and he woke me 12 hours later when he dropped me off back at the apartment. I went straight to bed and slept a further 24 hours. I was sick a week later and a few years later discovered I had an African strain of HIV. You are all so full of it.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

Julia,
I am appalled by the incident you went through, all those years ago; and can only imagine the trauma it has left you with.
Can I also say that I am more than happy to accept the burden of being a man – albeit one thousands of miles away from the incident – who is implicitly responsible for that trauma due to the mere fact of my gender.
Oh, and perhaps my guilt is doubled because I am a family man, too – after all let’s face it – yours didn’t come out of the incident too well, either, did they.
All the best
Red

J Brown
J Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

“Oh, and perhaps my guilt is doubled because I am a family man, too – after all let’s face it – yours didn’t come out of the incident too well, either, did they.”

Can you explain what this means?

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

Julia,
Okay, I will try – although I don’t want to drag you into uncomfortable territory.
“You men!” was your opening line (not ‘some men’, I note). I took that to be a fallacious conflation of an individual perpetrator’s gender and the implied guilt by association (our gender) of those of us who share that gender.
I was really troubled by “…aged 18 and on a family holiday in Mauritius. He spiked my Coca Cola at a New Years Eve dinner, at the restaurant table, full of people and carried me off to his car when I lost the use of my legs…”
It would seem (and I accept that I wasn’t there) that there was a failure in the duty of care from your family – I would accompany my daughter (she’s 36) back to her room and stay, if I thought she was so ill that she could not stand – and applied the same implication of guilt by association (I am a family man).
My intention has been to highlight the absurdity of your opening line and its implied guilt by association.
All the best.

J Brown
J Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

I see, thank you.. So I read through all the comments first and all the male comments were agreeing with this article, which goes directly against my own experience. That “you men” was directed towards the men in the comment section and especially he who wrote it – not the worlds population of men, the vast majority of which are good men, also my experience. It would also be directed to any man who puts a differing opinion to my own experience, on this particular subject.

My parents weren’t with me at the restaurant. But we were staying in a family sized apartment. So when he dropped me off I went up to the apartment where my parents were waiting for me as they obviously couldn’t leave the flat as they didn’t know where I was. The whole time I slept during that 24 hour sleep they were there and my mother was checking on me all the time.

This man visited me and my parents on numerous occasions. He groomed them too. I can’t see that, from any angle, they deserve any criticism for lack of care. I don’t like the accusation against them because my mother never got over it.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

Julia,
ah, now my understanding is a little clearer, thank you.
I withdraw my criticism of your family without hesitation; and apologise.
I hope that you and your family have been able to come to terms with what happened to you – and I hope your attacker gets the punishment he richly deserves in this or the next life.
All the best
Red

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

You’ll note I started my comment with the word “if”.
Obviously I’m not going to comment on an individual case, years ago in a foreign country. But these kinds of moral panic or contagion do seem to happen, and if there is no, or little, grounds for them, then an explanation is needed.

J Brown
J Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I did notice. My point is it was unreported, isn’t isolated and is a thoroughly universal problem whether it is South Africans or English. I’m not the one who is mental.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

isn’t isolated and is a thoroughly universal problem

It’s precisely the point of the article that that is begging the question. We simply don’t know if it is widespread, and the evidence suggests that it is not.
The spiking of drinks with alcohol is far more plausible, though in some cases it may simply be that the person drank more than they thought.
Many of the commentators have pointed to other moral panics, believed in at the time, but which now look completely mad.
I certainly believe that some men are capable of it. There are, of course bad people, but that isn’t the question.

J Brown
J Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I owe you an apology. I realise that I read the whole article, and your comment/s, through the eyes of an alcohol spiked person, not needle spiking which also sounds fantastical to me! So I’ve revealed my life’s biggest secret, and my full name, for nothing.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

I’m sorry there hasn’t been more sympathy for your traumatic experience.

I don’t think any commenters would deny that such experiences happen, and be chastened by the obvious rawness you still feel.

Unfortunately many men have been alienated by the woke version of feminism. Articles highlighting that some of their more extreme claims are statistically improbable, tend to be well received.

I can imagine how those generic discussions affect somebody who has actually been affected.

If you contact Unherd they can change your profile name. It changes all posts, past and future.

J Brown
J Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

Some secrets are better out than in, maybe it’s been for the best. You might find in a few days that actually it’s a relief. I hope so any way.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

Unfortunately the reaction to your posts was unpleasant – mostly it appears because there is a obviously a difference between the needle and the spiked drink. These are very similar crimes, so it is unfortunate that you are being called out for the technicality.
Many men on Unherd are thoughtful and intelligent – but unfortunately there is a tendency amongst some men here to take their antipathy against ‘radical feminists’ out on other women. It is unfortunate and divisive and I’m sorry for the negative reaction to your sharing a very traumatic and private experience
.
I made the following post below in reply to someone else that I will repeat as you might not otherwise get to read.
“In many countries it is not a ‘small minority of men’ – it is enough men that make women rightfully afraid – a mixture of sex predators, violent criminals and opportunists.
That said, it is not the majority of men, but enough to make a large percentage of men in the population really concerned for their women (and women in general) and extremely angry.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

Point well made Lesley. I have sympathy to an extent with men who feel affronted by the feminist man-hating that happens too often. But I also find it amazing when someone has a personal story as chilling as the one relayed here that they can’t put their feelings aside and exercise some compassion one a 1-1 level.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Fair point, thank you.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

unfortunately there is a tendency amongst some men here to take their antipathy against ‘radical feminists’ out on other women.

I think it’s rather that some men on here get defensive when generalised anti male statements are made which they feel are rooted in feminism rather than in fact.
And, of course, sometimes people just disagree.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

David, I read immediately the ‘you men’ to mean a reply to some of the men commenting on the thread, but I do understand that some men read it as a generalisation of all men.
I am frequently quite taken aback with some of the disappointing comments men make about women on Unherd – and this doesn’t seem to jibe with the general tone of the conversations here.
Why can’t there be recognition that almost all women commenting here have healthy relationships with men, despite many having had some negative incidents regarding men and their superior physical power. These women are not radical feminists and misandrists – despite there being a few articles by radical feminists. Should this devolve into a slanging match of misandrist vs misogynist? I have even had to recently defend my comment that damaging male dominated societies that subjugate women still exist in large parts of the world.
Let’s hope we can find common ground and understanding, because on many issues men and women on Unherd are on the same teams!

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I agree.
Speaking for myself, I do try not to tar everyone with the same brush. It is never my intention to direct my points at all women. Or even all feminists. I confess that there are women like Julie Bindel who do make my hackles rise though.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes, she does make hackles rise. And sadly she makes some good points and then loses all her momentum and good will with one foolish comment.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

“In many countries it is not a small minority of men – it is enough men that make women rightfully afraid – a mixture of sex predators, violent criminals and opportunists.”
Am I right in thinking Lesley that you live in South Africa? which according to the UN has the highest rape rate, and the 5th highest murder rate in the world. That must indeed be a scary place to live.
Highest murder rates :

  1. El Salvador
  2. Jamaica
  3. Honduras
  4. Belize
  5. South Africa

Highest rape rates :

  1. South Africa
  2. Botswana
  3. Lesotho
  4. Bermuda
  5. Sweden
Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Wow, Sweden? What’s going on there?

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Yes, I know, apparently Sweden’s high rape rate is because it has brought in a “new broader definition of rape”. When the data was recalculated using Germany’s narrower guidelines, the rate fell dramatically from 64 to 15 reported rapes per 100,000.
Sweden’s new definition is ‘sex without consent’. I’m not sure broadening the definition of rape in this way is doing any of us any favours.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

How is ‘sex without consent’ teased out from rape?

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

I don’t know. I expect the details of the law are available online as our UK laws are but I’m guessing they’re in Swedish, which, alas, I do not speak.
No, on the contrary, just found this, all of Swedish Law in translation:
https://government.se/government-policy/judicial-system/the-swedish-criminal-code/
It’s all yours.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

And it has backfired big time in Sweden. The idea was to make Sweden look like a hell hole of white male oppression – but then the immigrants arrived, and suddenly leveraging up the rape figures didn’t look so PC anymore.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I believe it is also down to how things are counted. If a Swedish man has nonconsential sex with his wife several times, in Sweden that would be counted as several incidents of rape. Elsewhere it would be counted once.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

In Sweden it’s because they define rape differently to other places – what passes as rape in Sweden wouldn’t do so in 99% of other countries, hence the seemingly high rate.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Yes Claire, I live in South Africa which is particularly violent. In keeping with the rest of the world, most murder is male on male, followed by male on female. Rape of course is largely male on female. Gender based violence is a focus in the country.
That said I read a lot of US/UK press and many women there too feel they have to alter behaviour in order to protect themselves.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Lesley – I think that’s part of the problem. Both activists and the press exaggerate the situation in western countries in order to gain clicks and support. This has perverse consequences, with US universities coming out looking like war torn countries, and funding being allocated where it is least needed.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I have found the US to be very violent – is that where you come from? I have visited a few times, albeit some time ago. From what I gather now, many areas are hellholes of crime and violence? Mainly Dem cities.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

Not at all Julia. Apologising in public isn’t easy. You’ve done it. And you’ve earned my admiration, and I’m sure that of other commenters.
Thanks again.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

I honestly would find it difficult to find even a single male who, if left alone with such a person, would be able to control himself from giving him the beating he richly deserves.

I know plenty of feminist women who defended the gangs at Rotherham and Rochdale.

I can still remember how the Guardian, that bastion of women’s rights and brave enemy of patriarchy, tried to pretend the new year Eve Cologne attacks didn’t happen and the awful, disgusting apologist piece they finally came out with a week later.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

I’m sorry for what happened to you, it’s horrific.

J Brown
J Brown
2 years ago

I wish I hadn’t written this but thank you.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  J Brown

You were brave to say what you did. Unherd commenters quite often respond as a herd, unfortunately, and quite often in ways that are unkind. I hope you will make more contributions in the future despite this.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Alcohol loosens inhibitions. That’s one of the reasons it’s particularly attractive in the earlier, self conscious, years.

It also severely affects judgement, which is why both sexes often wake up the following day, wincing as memories return.

Much student sex is two p*****d people falling into bed together. That is now considerably more dangerous for the male, as female day-after regret is infinitely malleable into a number of different interpretations of the night before.

As my son’s graduate girlfriend told me “believing the woman is my duty!”

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I recall one regular Guardian columnist with a long article on how we should believe women who get drunk, have sex, wake up the morning after and decide post facto that it was rape, even if there is no evidence of coercion.

I asked in the comments section (yes, this was the old days) that were the situation reversed, i.e. a man gets totally drunk, sleeps with a woman and decides next day he wouldn’t have done so if sober, would you jail the woman for rape.

My comment was, of course, immediately deleted.

And was a theoretical question anyway, because, unlike the victim gender, men are responsible for their own actions and wouldn’t be stupid enough to do such a thing.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Beer goggles?

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The logic seems to be that if a woman is drunk and consents to sex, she is not responsible for her actions because she was drunk. However, for the time being at least, if she is drunk and decides to drive her car she is responsible for her actions, in spite of being drunk.
I guess the answer is: if you are inclined to do really stupid and irresponsible things while drunk – don’t get drunk!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

It gets really funny in the scenario where both are drunk when having sex…

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

All this tosh is about the government protecting birthing people from men in an epidemic that doesn’t exist. Really? Another excuse to continue hectoring non-birthing people and smash the patriarchy.
Reyhhard Sinaga. Why no mention? Wasn’t this a real case where the sexual predator actually did use drugs on his victims? That he was a man assaulting other men doesn’t fit in with the smash the patriarchy theme, even though he may be the most prolific sexual predator in UK history.
Although he did focus on men who were impaired by alcohol, actual drugging was also used here. None of the existing laws stopped this and none of the proposed laws would have stopped it either. Legislation is not always the answer.

Gillian Johnson
Gillian Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Firstly administration of a noxious substance is already covered by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Gillian Johnson
Gillian Johnson
2 years ago

Secondly, please don’t refer to women as birthing persons it is an offensive terminology created by the transactivist lobby who are the biggest bunch of misogynists out there.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
2 years ago

The term is being used ironically because of how utterly absurd it is.
We now have birthing and non-birthing persons to differentiate male and female: new terminology that means exactly the same thing as the old terminology. Progress.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Thank you. Thought it was clear from the context. Perhaps not. I personally had a visual of the sarcasm and contempt dripping from the word, but apparently it didn’t come through, at least to some….

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago

Gillian,

please don’t refer to women as birthing persons it is an offensive terminology 

Please don’t refer to the phrase “women as birthing persons it is an offensive terminology” as I find this to be offensive terminology  created by the feminist lobby who are the biggest bunch of misandrists out there.

Last edited 2 years ago by George Glashan
Edwin Wine
Edwin Wine
2 years ago
Reply to  George Glashan

We should be using Men and Women to refer to male and female people respectively. Sex is binary and immutable. These attempts to redo the language to use terms like ‘birthing person’ are just increasingly feeble attempts by those going around saying transwomen are women. They’re not because they are male and therefore men.

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago
Reply to  Edwin Wine

I agree, I’m skewering Gillians use of the ‘I’m claiming to be offended therefore you must change to fit the moral boundaries i set’ defence, a tactic trans activist learned well from feminism.

Last edited 2 years ago by George Glashan
James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Your point? It didn’t stop him from these sexual assaults, did it?

Edwin Wine
Edwin Wine
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

No it didn’t I was responding to the usual infantile comment

Please don’t refer to the phrase “women as birthing persons it is an offensive terminology” as I find this to be offensive terminology  created by the feminist lobby who are the biggest bunch of misandrists out there.

Obviously a Trans ally

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago
Reply to  Edwin Wine

woooooooooosh, thats the sound of the point sailing far over your head Edwin

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago

OK, not enough women in the discussion. Everyone is right. Some men take advantage and some even intend to do so. A small minority are predators.

Some women get helplessly drunk, get themselves into unintended situations and may regret doing so (but not always). A small minority accuse men they have had drunken sex with of being predators.

I’ve known men and women from all above categories. One of the most tragic was a young inexperienced male student. He and his friends had a house party, everyone drank too much. He went to bed (his own) with a young woman he didn’t know.

The girl left quietly in the morning and walked to her nearby flat. Days later the police visited the boy’s house and he was accused of rape. The flatmates were questioned as to whether they had seen or heard anything untoward; they hadn’t.

The boy was suspended from University and sent home with instructions to remain at his parents’ address until his trial. He was suicidal when I saw him.

My nephews’ public school holds an annual ‘advice’ day for school leavers where the fear of God is put into boys going out into the world.

So the girls believe men are dangerous and the boys think the same of the girls. Maybe Universities really are ‘safe spaces’ nowadays. Or maybe this mutual distrust is breeding paranoia and intolerance.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jane Watson
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

In many countries it is not a ‘small minority of men’ – it is enough men that make women rightfully afraid – a mixture of sex predators, violent criminals and opportunists.
That said, it is not the majority of men, but enough to make a large percentage of men in the population really concerned for their women and women in general – and extremely angry.

sally ingrey
sally ingrey
2 years ago

There is only one female voice here, Julia’s and all the rest are men. I want to add one of my own experiences and another women’s, I got drunk the second time I had sex and woke up regretting it. It was not bad sex, he wanted to get me drunk so that I would be incapable of consent. More recently I was at a party, and went back the next morning. One of the women had stayed the night there, and one of the other male guests told her that he had seen her having sex with one of the men there. She had no idea this had happened and went off to throw up. She then tried to cheer herself up by saying that he was a ‘nice guy’. These are just two vignettes. There are so many more. Basically women need to be careful around men for good reason. Lids on drinks in clubs sound like a very good idea to me, along with kicking out those who harass us on dance floors. This stuff never ever stops with young women.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  sally ingrey

he wanted to get me drunk so that I would be incapable of consent.

Did he spike your drink? If not, and assuming you are an adult, you do have to take some responsibility for your inebriation, and the choices you make while in that state.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  sally ingrey

Seen it happen, not nice and in normal middleclass society the man gets away with it because battering him is considered a bigger sin than rape in that sort of culture. Remember the morally illiterate Oil Welby saying racism is worse than paedophilia, without bothering to consider if he means racism like Hitler/KKK/UK Labour Party, or just some prats spraying swastikas to shock.

Last edited 2 years ago by mike otter
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

The reality is young women drink too much, black out, forget what happened and want to find something or someone to blame for their regrets. There was a scare about rohypnol when I was younger. I’m not saying there were zero incidents of rohypnol being used but the truth was often that women drank too much and put themselves in extremely dangerous and vulnerable situations. We should be encouraging sobriety for young women, and young men.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago

Good article Tom. I also thought about those HIV scare stories when I first heard it.
I think the title (Unherd!) should be “There probably is no spiking epidemic” as you correctly point out there isn’t any direct evidence for it yet, but even if it was happening it would be very very hard to detect. So to say there isn’t is based only on probability not evidence, no matter how likely/unlikely.

Last edited 2 years ago by A Spetzari
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

I thought the whole point of undergraduate drinking was to lower inhibitions and do something that you might regret later.

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago

Bit of a straw-man article. There may not be an “epidemic”, but it may well be the case that spiking is somewhat more prevalent now than, say, 5 years ago. As it gets more publicity, expect more copy-cat spiking. I agree that binge drinking with alcohol (which is already a drug), is not great to begin with. But spiking appeals to loser blokes, incel types, who generally wouldn’t even have the social skills to buy a woman a drink in the first place. Drugging women feeds their control/rape fantasies. Spiking is real, even if there is no epidemic. Real answer is to avoid nightclubs, as they’re full of louts and arseholes anyway.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Bogman Star

Agreed. In today’s culture, with porn available to all and illegal substances as easy to get hold of (thanks to the dark web) as takeaway pizza, it’s no wonder that chancers will experiment – especially in nightclubs.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

The only possible position to take in this discussion in order not to enflame the anti-patriarchal one, is that all women must be believed – hence the spiking epidemic is real – and therefore must be added to the long and growing list of offences by males (cis-only) against women.

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

People love scary stories. Like Private Eye’s parody of the MSM “A” Level Results Story add a few attractive girls (see pic above) and it will sell all day long. Aids, Drugs, Covid, Terrorism – all penny dreadfuls where genuinely tragic but very rare events are used to get sales. Small wonder politicians and “activists” are on the bandwagon. Spiking is a serious issue but needles? The needle is liable to break as the victim moves involuntarily from the pain. Back in my 50s someone spiked my pint at an arena gig, with what i suspect was ketamine or MXP. I was already very high on hash and MDMA, so it just severed my brain/body connections for an hour or so. I was so high i didn’t mind but couldn’t really take in the last 1/2 of the show. I think the fun part for the spikers was giving an old bald bloke in non-scene clothes a bunch of drugs but could’ve been k-hole misery for a non psychonaut.

Last edited 2 years ago by mike otter
Philip Stott
Philip Stott
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

“add a few attractive girls (see pic above)”

You need to go to SpecSavers mate

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 years ago

“There is no spiking epidemic”
Well, that’s what Tom Chivers says. But how do we know he’s not just using UnHerd as a platform to lull women into a false sense of complacency?

anna m
anna m
4 months ago

I suspect spiking is really very common – and very under-reported.
Anecdote: I’ve been spiked twice in the last 15 years. I don’t go out a lot, and I am generally on my guard when I do, so this is quite a high hit rate.
It’s pretty obvious when it happens – if you start in a crowded nightclub; you weren’t drunk, and weren’t taking drugs; and you lose all memory of the night out; require someone to carry you home, undress you and put you to bed, and don’t remember that bit either; and spend the next two days asleep and feeling sort of out-of-body – you know something dodgy happened.
The second time was in my 40s (I had naively thought that my age was some kind of protection against spiking). My husband noticed a shady looking guy kept trying to dance with me, and he came over to chase the guy away a couple of times. I remember none of this, nor do I remember even going to the club in the first place.
I’m just lucky that on both occasions I was with people who looked after me and got me home.
A handful of my girlfriends have had similar experiences. I don’t think any of us ever reported it. It never occurred to me that there would be any point – what can the police do if I can’t even remember being at the night club where it happened?
I have a 13 year old daughter. In a few years I will certainly be telling her that spiking is common, and something that she needs to be very vigilant about. I tell her that men are like dogs – most of them are lovely and you can pat them on the head safely; but a handful of them are dangerous, and unfortunately sometimes you can’t tell whether you are patting a lovely dog or a dangerous dog until it is too late and you have been bitten – therefore you have to have some basic safety rules in places to mitigate risk.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

It’s psychological warfare. Women, dressed immorally, drinking, flirting. They’re sinful. I wonder how much of this stuff is driven by an agenda that thinks women should be at home, covered up avd under the ‘protection’ of a male guardian?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I genuinely don’t understand where you’re coming from. Surely the various headlines about women not being safe out at night are driven by feminists blaming the patriarchy, and men in general, for that vulnerability?

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Sarcasm? It’s sometimes hard to tell.
are you suggesting the spiking is being carried out by Islamic extremists?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

If I regularly went out late at night through a dark, deserted alley, visibly carrying an expensive laptop, I have a high chance of being beaten up and robbed.

And it would be my fault. That doesn’t mean I “deserved” it or the mugger was justified. And I have the full right to do so.

So, ladies, feel free to get drunk in a crowded party where you hardly know anybody, wearing a flimsy dress, and then walk home late night on your own on a lonely street.

We are not questioning your right to do so. Just doubting your intelligence, and sense of responsibility and self respect.

Last edited 2 years ago by Samir Iker
Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The article is not about getting into trouble when walking home through mean streets late at night – it’s about women being spiked *in nightclubs* – do keep up

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Bogman Star

Thanks for the advice.
Would you mind reading the comment I replied to, and point out where it covers the specific point about women being spiked *in nightclubs*

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

So if you walk home late at night on a lonely street in a flimsy dress you have no ‘self respect’. That is a weird phrase to use. Bad judgment sometimes (though not always, because women can find themselves with no other option), but ‘self respect’?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Nobody sensible is saying that Cheryl – and I’d argue your position is the polar attitude of what you are criticising, and that it makes any productive discussion on this topic difficult.
Zampini from the article articulates the nuance very well – it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that women should take precautions, and that doesn’t mean it’s victim blaming.