Another day, another clueless dude* asking a dumbshit question about rape.
I heaved a weary sigh when I got the Change.Org email inviting me to sign the petition advising Dr. Phil that a) answer’s no, you dumbshit**; b) apologize; and c) air a show that advises viewers not to rape people, no, not even if they’re drunk. Not surprised? I’m having a heart attack from not surprised. Dude sods up topic of sexual assault, news at midnight because who’s gonna stay up for this predictable bullshit?
Thing is, Dr. Phil’s not only a dumbshit, he’s a terribly influential one. Oprah merely mentioning she liked a book would send her fans phoning every bookstore in the country with requests for it five seconds later. This is her pet shrink. I’ve no doubt a large contingent of the country believes rainbows shine out of his arse and that every nugget he excretes is pure genius, because Oprah likes him. He’s not just a symptom of rape culture: he’s one of it’s most powerful enablers.
Forget the fact his staff took that tweet down and blurted to some news agencies that they didn’t really mean it like that. The way the question and hashtag are phrased virtually scream to wanna-be rapists, “Yeah, you tap that passed-out pussy, bro! Go forth with Dr. Phil’s blessing, my randy son.***” They tell victims that they totes deserve it if they’re so foolish as to consume a mildly alcoholic drink when not alone in a locked panic room while wearing a burka. I don’t believe that’s what he and his staff intended – I believe it was, in their minds, “a research post in preparation for a show.” Problem is, Dr. Phil and staff had their rape culture goggles firmly screwed to their eyeballs, and it’s terribly hard to see how awful your action is when you’re wearing those. Say it with me, now: Intent is not magic.****
Alexandra at Feministing did the hard work of explaning most all that was wrong with this short, shitty tweet, under the following headings:
1. The tweet perpetuates the idea that rape is blurry.
2. The question is too simple for the problem.
3. The question assumes all victims are women.
4. The tweet focused on offenders rather than survivors.
5. Dr. Phil is concerned with “can” rather than “should.”
Let’s have a gander at Dr. Phil’s Twitter feed, shall we? Surely, the feed that started the outrage will have a fine apology to offer.
Dr. Phil @DrPhil
(18 hours ago) Have you experienced abuse by a stepparent? How was it resolved? Reply to @drphil with #stepparentabuse
(15 hours ago) If you have info about missing 15-year-old Erica Lynn Parsons, please call the Rowan County Sheriff at 701-216-8700. bit.ly/DP0820
(20 August) How young is too young to have “the talk” with your kids – and why? Reply with @drphil #pregnanttween
(20 August) Children learn what they live. | #DrPhil
(20 August) Have you ever felt alienated from one parent by your other parent? Reply to @drphil with #parentalalienation
(20 August) Have you experienced #parentalalienation? Do you know someone who has used their child against their partner during a divorce?
Erm, nope. Not a single mention on the front page. Dear, oh dear. And it doesn’t appear there’s a newsy sort o’ thing where we can get the latest word on how Dr. Phil Fucked Up and Intends to Fix It.
Deary, deary me. Numero Uno, Be on the Show – Know Someone Accused of Statutory Rape? My. It’s a 404 now, but sounds awfully like it was an invitation to MRAs, “ephebophiles,” and other assorted assholes to whine about how unfair it is that Dude’s in jail – sure, he was 45 and she***** was 13, but she looked older! And she was, like, totally begging for it!
Rape culture goggles again, I’m afraid.
“Campus Crisis“? Let’s have a look. “Know the safety tips and warning signs…” Judging from the promo video, it’s all about tips to the victims about how not to get raped. Yay, rape culture! Let’s have a look at these “Top 5 Safety Tips,” then, and see.
Okay: “Never Walk Home Alone, Limit Alcohol, No iPod or ATM at Night, Change Your Route and Routine, Give Someone Your Schedule”…. DingDingDingDingDing! We have a rape culture winner! Ladies (cuz you know they didn’t mean dudes), here’s how not to get raped by a stranger! And it’s all your fault if you get raped trying to have a normal life! And special bonus – here’s five ways to retraumatize yourself if you screw up – remember, no conviction, no rape! Remember, girls: it’s not date rape without proof of a date rape drug being used! Also, if his wee-wee didn’t get forcibly stuck in your vee-vee, you haven’t been raped, so quit whining! Whee, rape culture, woo!
Might I suggest a new set of tips?
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
7. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
8. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
9. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
10. Don’t assault people.
Rather more sensible advice, targeting the correct part of the population. Shame Dr. Phil doesn’t seem to know about it.
I can hardly bear to look further, but it’s like a gruesome accident scene. Let’s see what Dr. Phil’s got to say about Steubenville. I think I can already tell by the title – Football, Booze and Bad Behavior just screams “those naughty boys will be boys with some slutty girl” – but bennie of the doubtie, they’re always telling me.
Dr. Phil sez, “Where the hell are the adults in this situation? Why isn’t there supervision? Why do they feel so safe that they can talk about this so openly?” Way to go, Dr. Phil. Let’s parse what you’re saying: People have no responsibility not to rape – it’s up to Mommy and Daddy to stop them cuz boyz will be boyz, amirite? Oh, and the real problem is the fact the boys felt cool bragging about it –
rapists naughty children should show some decorum.
Joyous. Dr. Phil’s on the same page as this prosecutor. Gee, I wonder why rape victims are reluctant to report?
And my gosh, those poor friends of the accused in the last few paragraphs! People are being meeean to them, just for standing by
rapists their buddies! (Death threats, assuredly, are not okay no matter who they’re aimed at. Neither is erasing the victim and perpetuating rape culture, Dr. Phil.)
Looking through the rape search results, the impression is overwhelming that Dr. Phil is your typical male middle-American asshat. Male rape victims are almost completely erased, as if they couldn’t possibly exist. Rape is pretty much stranger rape, unless it was some dude actually drugging a chick he knows (alcohol doesn’t count), or someone like an evil relative or family friend preying on the kiddies. Date Rape = girl drank too much, boys couldn’t help themselves, guess you’ll know better next time, eh, sweetheart? Rape victims are responsible for protecting themselves against rape, but heaven forfend we tell rapists not to rape! And then he marvels at the number of college men who don’t think rape is rape? Oh, puh-leez.
Dr. Phil: you’re part of the reason people (not just men!) are unclear on the concept. You’re a huge part of the problem.
So, yeah. Well past time he did something to set that right.
Petition’s here. And do feel free to tweet Dr. Phil. The more people telling him this shit must stop, the better the chances he’ll realize it’s time to remove the rape goggles. Let’s hope he can do better than some skeptics we know.
*Sometimes dudette, but most often a certified dude.*
***Don’t talk to me about women also being capable of rape – talk to Dr. Phil.
**** Those hard-of-understanding people might also wish to try reading this succinct explanation as to why intent is not, in fact, magic.
*****I know, I know, but in Dr. Phil’s world, there is no xe, only she. And possibly he if the details are salacious and the teacher hot enough.