It recently came to my attention that bars across the University campus have drink menus that do not align with my personal morals or the morals of many friends and mentors. Drinks such as the Blowjob and Dirty Girl Scout, among others, play off of humor that is in no way family friendly but may be excusable for certain eyes. Titles such as these may make a restaurant only accessible to adult eyes, but do not necessarily cross a morally impenetrable line in my view.
Reading further down the menu at Blue Leprechaun on South University, I stumbled across a drink called Statutory Grape. At the time, I thought this drink was particular to this bar, but soon discovered that many menus on the University campus and in other cities featured such an appalling item. This wave of disappointment hit me around late September last year and only escalated this past weekend when my father was in town and had a harsh reaction to such a feature as well.
As I have never been a victim of any sort of sexual crime, I do not have the authority to say what a drink name like this would spark in me had I experienced such a traumatic event. But I do know that to trivialize what can be such a severe experience into a drink name is beyond outdated and beyond disrespectful. After speaking with peers, mentors and even the wait staff and general manager of Blue Lep, I found that everyone was in a relatively unanimous agreement: the drink name should be removed. Some “inappropriate” drinks I can let skate by, but others have crossed a line that should never be crossed.
I met with Mike Gradillas, the general manager of the Blue Leprechaun, expecting a curmudgeon of a man who would not be receptive to the idea at all. Instead, I found the exact opposite in his character. We carefully looked at each menu item, and discussed the implications of each item and what it could mean, who it could hurt, if the wait staff could “handle” it and if they could, “should” anyone be able to handle something unpleasant that could potentially be a trigger? It is impossible to imagine what everyone has gone through, what bizarre or mundane words could propel someone into reliving a terrible experience. But there is a certain point where we, as upstanding members of society, can speculate that the drink “statutory grape” could be linked to an unfortunate memory.
Dan Caldwell, a waiter at the Blue Lep, made many poignant remarks on this subject. He specifically stated, “You never know what the people walking through your bar have gone through.” Specifically with the drink Statutory Grape, there is no reason why the item must persist. In suggesting renaming the drink, Gradillas said, “I don’t even need a memory of it. It’s just not worth it.” So not only is the name being eliminated, but also the drink itself is being told off. Gradillas said, “I do care about the image of the restaurant, but on a more personal level, I am responsible.”
Gradillas claims that he had often questioned these off-putting titles, but had never been approached by someone, so he never made the move for change. Obviously, the responsibility cannot solely lie in anyone’s lap, but it does show how times can change and the often times negative residue of the past can stick.
“We are dealing with college, where there is often times a fine line between having an experience where someone may unfortunately question whether or not an encounter was rape,” Gradillas said.
Any restaurant, especially one so close to a university, should not be making light of an issue that is so prevalent on a college campus. Gradillas similarly took it upon himself to change The Red Headed Slut to The Red Head without any efforts on my part. He also reminded me that if a woman or man ever feels disrespected by a client at the restaurant, they have bouncers who are well equipped to remove any individual.
Although most people with whom I have spoken to agree at the obscenity of the title, those playing devil’s advocate, bring up the line that differentiates rape and statutory rape. The legal dictionary defines statutory rape as being, “…committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex. Minors and physically and mentally incapacitated persons are deemed incapable of consenting to sex under rape statutes in all states.” There is the case where a young couple could be technically committing this crime even while having consensual sex, however, this is not always the case. As the legal dictionary addresses, this offense is serious and should in no way be taken lightly.
This is not just an issue of feminism; these experiences can happen to anyone. It is our duty as students to call attention to these issues and spread awareness. Often times it just takes one voice to sway a cause. Although I have only spoken with the Blue Leprechaun, I imagine these drink items will be evaporating quickly off of university campuses. Although students do not carry the solitary responsibility to spark change, we do have the youth and passion to speak out about causes of any scale.
Dani Vignos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.