Dr. Phil’s Rape Culture Goggles

Another day, another clueless dude* asking a dumbshit question about rape.

“If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused” Screen cap courtesy Change.org.

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.”

If you’re wondering what’s so wrong about this rape tweet, begin there. Me, I’m going to explore what’s wrong with Dr. Phil’s reaction, and his approach to this “very serious” topic generally.

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.

Screen cap of Dr. Phil's Twitter feed, covering August 19th to the 22nd. Notice a distinct lack of an apology, or indeed any mention of the problem tweet at all.

Screen cap of Dr. Phil’s Twitter feed, covering August 19th to the 22nd. Notice a distinct lack of an apology, or indeed any mention of the problem tweet at all.

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?

Or, not.

Website?

Dr. Phil homepage screen cap 1

Dr. Phil homepage screen cap 1

And 2

And 2

 

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.

Let’s search for the word “rape” and see what happens.

Rape search results, page 1.

Rape search results, page 1.

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?

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips. Really like number 10: DON'T ASSAULT PEOPLE.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips. Really like number 10: DON’T ASSAULT PEOPLE. Via A Rape Survivor’s Blog.

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.

the-fail-is-strong

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.*

*Paraphrase.

***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.

 

[notice] Hola, new commenters! Please do peruse the comment policy thoroughly before you expend valuable time sharing your thoughts. Or tl;dr: I reserve the right to drop asshats in the trash without a second glance. Bad behavior elsewhere will also get you instabanned here. Not an asshat or someone who’s been kicked out of other places for bad behavior? Then you’re probably cool. Thanks for reading![/notice]

But Where Have the Women Gone?

As I might have mentioned, I’m on an 18th and 19th century freethinker spree. I’m taking great pleasure in reading the words of atheists and not-atheists-but-at-least-in-the-same-zip-code heretics. It’s refreshing, knowing we’re walking a trail blazed by super-sharp thinkers of the past, and seeing how they dealt with the same old tired arguments we hear ad nauseum today. Of course, there’s the corollary: they dealt with this shit, why do we have to keep dealing with it? But religion is like kudzu, and it takes the effort of more than a handful of heretics to weed it out.

I digress.

Since I got the Kindle Fire, I’ve gone on a spree. I can impulse-download all sorts of books for free. These are things I wouldn’t have spent money on before, because the authors are long dead and I’d rather give my scarce dollars to living ones. Also, they could be damned hard to find. But they are now things I don’t have to budget for, and so I can go wild, filling my virtual library with previously-unattainable works that have great value now.

There’s just one problem: my library’s filling up with dudes. I like men. I’m loving the men I’m reading. It’s just that, y’know, they’re only half the story. I wanted women’s words, too. And Skatje had posted a whole list of female freethinkers, which would surely make it easier to track down works by women, even if they hadn’t come up by simply searching “atheism,” right?

Wrongo.

I spent a whole Friday night chasing down women on the internet, and all I got was a lousy handful of books. A pittance. I kept running up against walls. I’d see in Wikipedia that this or that woman was an author of all sorts of delicious-sounding books, or had been a lecturer, and I’d think, “Fantastic! I’ll go find that. I’m gonna love reading her stuff.” Only the Kindle Store had no idea who I was talking about. Project Gutenberg disavowed any knowledge of her existence. Even Google Books, which often listed works that didn’t exist on the other two, didn’t have copies. I found a few where I could pay lots of dollars to get a reprint. A paper reprint.

And perhaps that wouldn’t bother me quite so much if it weren’t for the fact that volunteers have lovingly tracked down the works of so many men, painstakingly digitized them, and offered them up for free, because they’re out of copyright and hard to find and deserve to be made widely available. You would think, from the dearth of the same sorts of books and collections of lectures by women, that women aren’t important enough to be granted the same treatment. No one seems to think women’s words matter quite as much. And that seems especially true for women’s words on freethought.

I can’t tell you how much this infuriates me.

These women were too often ignored and denigrated in their lifetimes. A smattering of people gave them the time of day and acknowledged their worth while the rest of civilization wished the damned harpies would shut up and get back to the whole baby-making business. Now they’re being ignored again.

At some point during the night, I got the brainwave that, while so many of their books and essays and lectures weren’t available through the usual channels, Infidels.org often had hard-to-find things by famous freethinkers. Surely they’d have some of these atheist and freethinking women. Surely.

They have three.

3.

Out of 55. Fifty-five authors on that list, and three are women. Granted, there might be a female or two hiding behind pseudonyms. But three identifiable women out of fifty-five people is appalling. There’s no excuse. Women authors weren’t quite as numerous as men, but there were enough of them that you can do far better than 5.45%.

This has made me determined that, should I become wildly rich, or at least rich enough, a portion of my income will go to pay the salary of some poor detail-oriented person who’s willing and able to track down these women’s works and get them digitized. And we’ll also be tracking down the non-white freethinkers, and getting their works online. This shit’s ridiculous. We need to stop ignoring the contributions of so many people just because they’re not the gender that’s got bits dangling between their legs, and folks with skin that can be used to set a camera’s white balance in a pinch.

I’d do it myself, but I know I don’t have the temperament for this sort of thing. But I’ll tell you something: if some soul starts a crowd-sourcing project where they send out paper copies for people to digitize, I’ll sign up to do at least one work.

While we push for greater diversity in the movement today, we need to recognize the diversity it had yesterday. Women and people of color existed as freethinkers back then. Let’s make sure they’re not ever forgotten.

Marilla Ricker, one of the neglected women of freethought. Image courtesy Swathmore College.

Faux News Megafail

Read.  Marvel.  Weep.

Just how desperate to find a story–and a controversy–do you have to be to believe this is real:

Anchors at the Fox News national morning news show “Fox and Friends” reported Tuesday that the city of Los Angeles had ordered 10,000 jetpacks for its police and fire departments. The price tag: a whopping $100,000 per unit.

Yes, jet packs. Thousands of them. Maybe that should have set off warning bells. Well, actually it did, but this being Fox News, well… (italics mine):

For those doing the math at home, the cash-strapped city of Los Angeles, which is regularly sending its police detectives home because it can’t pay all their overtime, allegedly shelled out a billion dollars on space-age transportation that it has never used in an emergency situation, much less tested.

“We certainly haven’t bought any jetpacks,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “We haven’t bought [squad] cars for two years.”

As Gawker.com was the first to note, the “Fox and Friends” report appeared to contain material taken right out of a story from the Weekly World News tabloid, which bills itself as “The World’s Only Reliable New Source.”

Look.  I know the tabloids were right that one time when they broke the story of John Edwards’s love child.  But that was the Enquirer, which is attempting some respectability (perhaps trying to fill a sucking void of respectability left in journalism when Faux News started broadcasting), whereas the Weekly World News is the same as it ever was – a rag full of made-up shit that only complete fucking morons believe is true. Shit, I’ll bet you cash money you could present it to a classroom full of special needs kids and a good majority of ‘em would know it’s complete bullshit. 

The problem is this: Faux News fucktards likely don’t watch Mythbusters because they believe it’s a librul conspiracy, and we know they think science is a bunch of left-wing hooey (except the science they agree with, of course), so they probably aren’t aware that we aren’t yet living la vida Jetsons.  They’re easy marks for anyone who wants to sell them a guvmint waste line.  And, apparently, any rag that claims Hillary Clinton’s adopted an alien baby rates high on their truthiness scale.

There’s something that the folks who do the ratings need to keep in mind, here: yes, Faux News has high ratings.  That’s because a handful of very insanely stupid viewers believe every word they say, and because a large number of people tune in because they can’t believe what the fucktards just said and keep watching to see what shit-for-brains dumbfuckery gets spouted next.

It’s really too bad Faux News is televised, not printed on pulp.  But I suppose it’s just a bit too stupid to be called tabloid journalism.  At least the tabloids understand they’re reporting made-up shit.  The same, alas, is not true for the gullible goobs at Faux.