A Useful Side-Effect of Misplaced Fear
A study in the British Journal of Criminology makes the point that drink-spiking date-raping is basically an urban legend:
Abstract. There is a stark contrast between heightened perceptions of risk associated with drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) and a lack of evidence that this is a widespread threat. Through surveys and interviews with university students in the United Kingdom and United States, we explore knowledge and beliefs about drink-spiking and the linked threat of sexual assault. University students in both locations are not only widely sensitized to the issue, but substantial segments claim first- or second-hand experience of particular incidents. We explore students’ understanding of the DFSA threat in relationship to their attitudes concerning alcohol, binge-drinking, and responsibility for personal safety. We suggest that the drink-spiking narrative has a functional appeal in relation to the contemporary experience of young women’s public drinking.
In an article on the study in The Telegraph, the authors said:
Among young people, drink spiking stories have attractive features that could “help explain” their disproportionate loss of control after drinking alcohol, the study found.
Dr Burgess said: “Our findings suggest guarding against drink spiking has also become a way for women to negotiate how to watch out for each other in an environment where they might well lose control from alcohol consumption.”
“As Dr Burgess observes, it is not scientific evidence which keeps the drug rape myth alive but the fact that it serves so many useful functions.”
Basically, the hypothesis is that perpetuating the fear of drug-rape allows parents and friends to warn young women off excessive drinking without criticizing their personal choices. The fake bogeyman lets people avoid talking about the real issues.