Friday, April 15, 2016

"Okay, what the actual f—k?" - Response to Dear Abby Advice to Rape Victim

"Dear Abby"
Okay, so I read about this whole Dear Abby Rape Victim Blaming thing, and the more I read... and the more comments I read (shakes head slowly)... the more I can only say, over and over, what I said when I read the very first line... "Seriously? What the actual f—k?"

This post is going to be a long one and potentially uncomfortable one, so I'd like to apologize up front for my completely lack of brevity, but not apologize at all for my opinions or the subject matter discussed. The topic is rape. More to the point, the topic is "How much blame should be allotted to the victim of a rape or sexual assault?" (If you know the answer, don't shout it out. It's become terrifyingly obvious to me that not everyone knows the answer, and that's why we need to discuss this as a group). This topic really hits home for me, and I feel it's something that desperately needs to be addressed. Don't believe me? Read the advice given in this Dear Abby column and see if that doesn't make it painfully obvious that this is something that should be common knowledge, and for whatever cultural or societal reasons seems to just not be. 
Right, so let me start by saying that... yes, as was stated in the comments on the attached link, for the young woman writing in to Dear Abby, getting into the truck and going *ANYWHERE* with the guy in question was, at the very best, not the brightest plan...

But, and it's an enormous but...

How does that in any way, at all, ever, even a little bit, begin to excuse rape?

Moreover, how does that, or anything that was stated to have happened, somehow make the victim share blame?

So, she said "it hurts"... not "STOP IT, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!"...

So? What's the difference there? I mean, she'd already established boundaries, no? She'd already stated plainly that sex wasn't on the table. That makes it murky enough, even with her kissing him, that he should have secured unequivocal verbal consent before penetration, no?

Should she have made out with the guy (kissing, etc)? I'm going to go with probably not. Does that make rape her fault? I don't think so! Well, it's not any more her fault than, say... a sober person obeying all the posted traffic laws who dies in a head on collision with a drunk driver is responsible for their own death. I mean... "They knew the risks when they got in the car... they were practically asking for it behind that wheel..."

What world do we live in? Communication problem? Dear Abby, wake up! Parents should have communicated to the guy that unless the female in question gives consent for penetration... it's rape. RAPE! That's the only communication issue I see here.

The guy all but told the girl he was going to attempt to have sex with her. He did. However (THE IMPORTANT BIT, HERE!!!) She said she didn't want to do that. So... she should have expected that she would be raped if she went with him?

Sadly, in this world... yeah. She probably should have. Bigger picture? Should a woman expect to be raped, ever, by any guy (or girl), even if told up front that the guy (or girl) wants to have sex? NO!!! Rape is a crime! It's a violation! It's wrong! It shouldn't ever be expected! No means No!

Based on that, I'm going to ask a series of simple but very important question for everyone reading here.

Think about the answers you have to these questions, and understand that if your answers are different that mine, you are wrong. I'm normally fairly open minded about things, and willing to agree to disagree. Not here. Not now. Not on this topic. Not even a little.

So are you ready? Okay, here goes - 
Is it rape if you have sex with a woman (or man) who:
A) Is drugged so they can't say no?

Yes! It's still rape!

B) Is so drunk they doesn't know what they're doing?

Yes! It's still rape!

C) Is passed out?

Yes! It's still rape!

D) Is a sex worker, and has been paid by you for sex, but has decided now to not have sex with you?

Yes! It's still rape!

E) Is married to you, has had copious amounts of sex with you previously and also shares your life, your home, your bills, and your bed, but on this occasion has said no to your sexual advances?

Yes! It's still rape!

F) You've driven to an isolated area and trapped there?

Yes! It's still rape!

G) You've taken out for an evening of food/ drinks/ movie/ dancing/ entertainment (a date you paid a good deal of money for) but she (or he) says no?

Yes! It's still rape!

H) Says yes to having sex, and is really hot and heavy into the sex, and then (for *ANY* reason she (or he) chooses) says stop/ no?


How Is that not clear? I mean... to any and everyone? Even people who commit rape shouldn't be confused as to what they are doing, right? It's obvious, and yet Dear Abby doesn't even seem to completely get it. 

If there isn't consent... clear consent... verbal consent... universally understandable consent... and *especially* if there are any words or physical expressions of denial, or disagreement, or disapproval, or dissent, or refusal, or rejection, or objection, or opposition, or protest, or they JUST PLAIN SAY "NO!" Well, then, guess what?


"No" means "no". Lack of "yes"... that's just as good as a "no".

How hard is it to get consent? No difficult at all if the person actually WANTS to have sex with you...
and if they don't, then it's rape!

It's more clear than crystal... more transparent than glass... more simple than one plus one equaling two.

No excuses apply here. None.

No excuses of mixed signals, or communication breakdown, or what they were wearing, or that "they wanted it",
or they "were asking for it",
or they "started it, so they had to finish it",
or any other pathetic excuse of any ill-conceived origin for that matter,
nothing... clear? NOTHING!
Nothing makes ANY act of sexual contact that is not actively consented to... in the moment that it is happening... anything else but rape.

Violating another persons body (regardless of the gender of the violator or the victim) is rape. It equates to murder in its viciousness and vile nature. If someone is killed those who cared for them suffer the loss of that person everyday. When one is raped, the victim (and all those who care for them - in ways they know about and ways they may not, both large and small) suffers for a lifetime.

Your desire does not out weight the suffering of another. EVER!

Communication issue, indeed!

There was a "severe breakdown in communication" that lead to this poor young woman "being sexually assaulted"...

...Let's look at the events as they unfolded, step by step, closely like we're all looking for Blue's Clues, and see if we can discover where that "severe breakdown" occurred:

1) The male in question made it clear he wanted sex.

Ok... a lot of men (and some women) are very "to the point" about their sexual desires... it's blunt, crass, rude... it's a crime in the work place, or from an adult to a minor... but to be fair here, in this case, it was very clear communication.

2) The female in question made it clear that she didn't
Sounds simple, seems like good "unbroken-down" communication.

3) The male in question made it clear he still wanted sex

Persistent. Repetitive. Could likely get a protective order if it were insistent or demanding or threatening enough... but, still... No "breakdown in communication"... not so far, anyway.

4) The female in question believed that she had the right to stop other people's physical advances on her own body at any point, or limit them to kissing alone.

Ah, ha! Ok! So, here's the beginning symptom of the "breakdown in communication". She clearly wasn't filled in on the fact that she wasn't a human being, with HUMAN RIGHTS, if someone else wanted sex bad enough. If someone wanted sex bad enough, she should have been informed that she was, by default, just an item to be used for that other person's pleasure when/ if they saw fit. Bad communication there? Yeah, Abby, I see it... Likely the fault of her parents, or the school system, or society as a whole.

5) She thought that saying that the sexual contact hurt could cause/ invoke empathy.

More failed "communication"! I see it! If someone wants sex bad enough, then informing them of pain they are causing, by doing that thing you already made clear you didn't want done to your body... that means little more than the chirping of birds in the trees. See, she clearly thought she was communicating. Using words, and all. Someone should have told her that the only form of "communication" that she is allowed to use at a time like that is a weapon of some kind, or silent defeated compliance. How silly of her to attempt to use words.

6) She thought that she had control over her body and what was done with it without having another person violate it and then get mad at her for expressing that it caused her pain... no matter how forcefully she may or may not have said it.

More societal, educational, institutional, governmental, medical, and parental educational failing. She didn't know that she only has the control over her body that she can physically exert, and that she has no reasonable exception to safety or control over what is done with or to the body that she exists within. All sorts of "communication breakdown"! Yeah... I *totally* see it now!


It kills me... deep down on the inside... that any of this needs to be type out, or said out loud. These are basic concepts of human rights, and human value, and the most simple concept of respect for another human being.
Yeah. So, Abby, let's look at what you said, in detail.

Abby said:

“He had made no secret that he wanted sex with you,"

*** That gives him no right to do it, Abby! None! 

"and may have interpreted your willingness to kiss him"

*** Again, Abby... your willingness to get into a car doesn't signal your serious desire to *or* your consent to *or* your willingness or want to have your life end in a fiery auto crash.

"after he took you somewhere other than what was agreed upon"

*** ABBY?!?! Can you say "kidnapping"? Can you say "abduction"? Can you say "coercion"? Read what you wrote again, Abby. Please! You said: "after he took you somewhere other than what was agreed upon". Seriously? That's not a communication problem. That's a crime in itself. It's an exertion of control. It's a power-play to make the victim feel more helpless, out of control, and without power. It empowers the rapist and it should, if you are really using your observational skills, make the fact that this was RAPE all the more clear cut.

"as a signal that you were willing, even though you didn’t say so.”
*** Didn't say so? She said NO before. Why is the burden on her here, though? What she didn't say was "yes". "Yes" is the "signal" that he's required to hear to make physical contact with her and not be guilty of a crime. Further, and more importantly, "yes" is the "signal" that he's required to hear to make sexual contact with her and not be committing an act of violation, assault, rape!

I don't understand why this is even open for discussion or debate. I don't see a single shade of gray here. I am speaking from the point of view of a man, and maybe that skews my perception of things? Maybe because I was sexually violated as a child I can't clearly see how this isn't the victim's fault as well as the rapist's. Maybe because in my late teens I was raped in my own bed by a stranger while I was so drunk I couldn't even move my body from a prone position, let alone make words to give consent... maybe that makes me not see how this is a "breakdown of communication", and that clearly "signals" the victim might have been giving off by "willingness to kiss" mean more than actually having said no, not having said yes, or saying that it HURT!

Maybe it's just me... Maybe I just don't get the subtle nuances of this particular instance, circumstance, or issue... Can someone help me see this more clearly? Can someone go ahead and make me understand how a victim can be said to share blame *IN ANY GODDAMNED WAY* for being raped?

And that brings us full circle to the question that I started this with: "How much blame should be allotted to the victim of a rape or sexual assault?"
If you know the answer... feel free to shout it out now, or drop it in the comments below, or drop it to Dear Abby and anyone who would publish her advice...

If you don't know the answer, please... PLEASE... read my words again... if that doesn't work, and you still are confused about the amount of blame to award a rape or sexual assault victim, then I ask you, I plead with you... get help, or get off my planet... there's is absolutely zero room here for those who don't understand something this fundamental to life.


Other Resources that may help you understand:

*** How 7 things that have nothing to do with rape perfectly illustrate the concept of consent

*** This woman just explained consent with the most perfect metaphor

*** (NSFW) Consent 


  1. The answer is none of the blame belongs on the shoulder of the victim. I'm still shocked that isn't clear. But I guess Dear Abby gave me insight to why it isn't clear.

    1. Dear Abby opened my eyes... through her words, and more so through the comments sections of hers and articles about her advice...

      I didn't realize how institutionalize victim blaming in assault (specifically sexual assault) was in the world we all share.

      Seeing it, though, means knowing it is (still) an issue. Knowing that means it can be addressed. Now the key is to be unflinching in addressing it. Education, I think, is the key here.