Rape is Not OK: A Response to Dear Kelly's Victim-Blaming Article

Dear Kelly,

I am utterly disgusted with your response to ‘Liar’ in this month’s issue of Teenage. But making mistakes is all part of human nature, and I was ready to forgive the moment a minimally decent apology was supplied. Of course, you had to disappoint. Your pathetic excuse of an apology issued on Teenage’s online platform is nothing more than a carefully worded article to fend the blame you so greatly deserve.

Here’s a summary for everyone else reading this.

A teenage girl (presumably between the ages of 17-20) was asked to stay over at her best guy friend’s place. Unbeknownst to her, her best guy friend is a fucking cockwomble. He raped her in her drunken state, taking her virginity and giving her quite possibly a lifetime of emotional pain.

To make this easier for us, let’s call this girl ‘Emma’ – one of the most beautiful names, in my opinion. Let’s call this cockwomble ‘Jareth’.

I digress; let’s get back to business. Emma turns to Kelly in her moment of pain and confusion, but instead of receiving support, love and reassurance, Emma gets slapped with two pages of victim-blaming.

Dear Kelly, let me break this down for you.

1. Not all males are wankers/rapists/asshats.

Stop teaching young girls that the entire male population only wants sex with us girls.

“Don’t you read newspapers, magazines, or watch TV? You read my column. You are expected to know what happens when a girl agrees to stay over at a guy’s house when only two of them are in residence.”

I’ll tell you what girls can expect when they agree to stay over at their best guy friend’s house. Good, clean fun.

Dear Kelly, do you read newspapers, magazines, or watch TV? Platonic friendships can include sleepovers that do not culminate in sex, or rape. Unless the only TV programme you’ve been watching is Crimewatch, I don’t see how you can even possibly think anyone would expect a sleepover to be the nonverbal agreement to a ‘yes you may do what you please with my body despite all my objections’.

‘However, you are naive and inexperienced and somehow didn’t seem to realize what could happen to you being alone with a guy for two nights. Most people won’t believe you are so innocent.”

I have slept over at some of my guy friends’ places, with no one else around. Thankfully, my friends are decent human beings, and none of them have raped me. Emma is not ‘naïve’ or ‘inexperienced’. You do not get the right to make her feel stupid for not realizing her best guy friend’s disgusting intentions with her. Emma chose to believe in the platonic friendship, and it is not her fault that she has been so severely disappointed.

When I agree to stay over at a guy’s house, I expect exactly the same as when I stay over at a girl’s house. This brings me to the second point.

2. Your double standards are disgusting.

Emma confides in her best girl friend the morning after the rape, and spends the next two days with her.

“You need the support of your bestfriend. Thank her for being there for you.”

Two sleepovers with separate individuals, yet you praise one sleepover, and chastise the other, all on the basis of their gender.

Let’s turn the tables. If Emma’s best girl friend had taken advantage of Emma at a sleepover, would you have blamed Emma? Could your response possibly go along the lines of “You are expected to know what happens when a girl agrees to stay over at another girl’s house when only two of them are in residence”?

Let’s take this hypothetical situation one step further. If Emma, having been molested by her girl best friend, then sought comfort from her best guy friend by spending the next two days with him, would you have chastised Emma for spending the night with a guy? Could your response possibly go along the lines of “Thank him for being there for you, but how dare you sleep over at his house. You don’t seem to realize what could happen to you being alone with a guy for two nights.”

3. Consent is always required.

“Unfortunately, you gave every indication you were a willing player in his unfolding seduction plan. Never once did you ask for the lights to be turned on fully, saying you would be more comfortable with more light. You gave the idea that everything was okay with you. You accepted wine and obviously became drunk. Then there was the dancing, kissing, etc, culminating in sex. “

A basic summary of Kelly’s quote: Emma’s inaction in making the room brighter is equivalent to her consent to sex? Emma’s gracious acceptance of alcohol is her silent consent to sex?

Hold my purse. So every time I’ve gone on a dinner date in a restaurant with less-than-ideal room brightness, I’ve actually just been giving the silent go-ahead to sex? Every time I’ve ordered wine to go with my main course, I’m really just giving the green light for my nether region to be explored?

I suppose then, the next time I’m out at a restaurant with dim lighting, I’ll have to tell the waiter to turn the lights up because ‘Kelly says if I don’t do so, this night might culminate in sex that I never agreed to’

Maybe I’ve misunderstood.

Here’s another angle.

“ You gave the idea that everything was okay with you.”

What’s wrong with being okay with being courted? Jareth had obviously planned a nice dinner – he had music and soft lights - it’s all very romantic. Perhaps Emma, who had only platonic friendship in mind before then, was starting to consider Jareth as a viable dating option. Does this equate to her consent to sex?

Still a big fat no.

Imagine this.

(Cue sexy music)

I’m with a guy. We make out. I get on his bed. I take my clothes off. Then I change my mind and say ‘hey, let’s not have sex. I don’t want it.’

I might have given him the go-ahead previously, but consent was ultimately retracted. Therefore, there will be no coitus. It’s not that hard to understand. It doesn’t matter how many ‘signals’ I give, or ‘yes’s I say. If I say no to sex at any point in time, it’s still a no.

The point is that a guy’s misassumption of a girl’s intention to (not) have sex is not an excuse to rape her. It doesn’t matter if she was okay with dim lighting, if she was having wine, or if she said okay initially. No one should force sex on anyone without consent.

4. There is no silver lining in a rape situation.

“You cannot turn back the clock. You can be grateful that he wore a condom so that is little fear of an unplanned pregnancy and contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).”

Don’t you dare tell a rape victim to find a positive aspect in being raped.

Be grateful that Jareth wore a condom? Why don’t we give him a medal for this while we’re at it? Good job Jareth, you big wanker, you managed to slip a condom on so your rape victim doesn’t get pregnant. (I’m being highly sarcastic here.)

5. You need to sort out your priorities.

“Never lie to your parents in future. Anything could have happened to you, as no one knew where you really were. Now this is really scary.”

Because the fact that Emma was raped isn’t scary. No, the real big scare here is that her parents didn’t know where she was.

What if Emma had been honest with her parents? What if her parents knew she was spending the night at her best guy friend’s place and were okay with it?

If Emma had been raped even with this honesty between her and her parents, would it make it better?

I honestly don’t understand why the headline of your article reads ‘RAPED AFTER LYING TO MUM’. Why is the focus of the rape on Emma’s lie, instead of the fact that her best guy friend had just grossly betrayed her?

Rape can occur to anyone at any age. If you’re banking your argument on the thin line of reasoning that ‘her parents would not have allowed the sleepover, therefore she would never have been raped’, then prepare to be very wrong.

Hypothetical situation: Emma is 40 years old and living on her own. Her best guy friend/colleague invites her over for a sleepover. She still gets raped.

Are you still going to focus on the fact that her parents didn’t know where she was? As a fully independent adult, Emma here is allowed to do what she wants when she wills. Are you still going to call her ‘naïve’ and ‘inexperienced’ because she never expected her rapist to misunderstand the intention of the sleepover?

Okay, I’m not quite done dissecting your disgusting response to Emma, but let’s take a look at the apology you just issued.

“I sincerely apologise if my response to “Raped after lying to mum” came across as harsh and “blaming the victim”.”

I had to take a full minute to breathe after reading your first line.

‘I sincerely apologise if…’

If – like there is any possible way your article isn’t what we’re accusing it to be. Your article was harsh, and all it did was blame the victim.

If you’re going to apologise, do it properly. Remove the air quotes around ‘blaming the victim’.

Here’s a corrected version: I sincerely apologise that my response to “Raped After Lying To Mum” was harsh as I blamed the victim.

Let’s move on to the first line of your third paragraph.

“Throughout my response I never blamed her.”

Now let’s revisit your response.

“Don’t you read newspapers, magazines, or watch TV? You read my column. You are expected to know what happens when a girl agrees to stay over at a guy’s house when only two of them are in residence.”

You told her that she was expected to know what was going to happen. This is her fault for being clueless. She was basically asking to be raped by agreeing to spend the night at a guy’s place. She should have just superglued her thighs shut before heading over.

Now, on to next two paragraphs.

“I was focusing on the danger this girl put herself in. I focused on helping her see that her behaviour sent the wrong message to the guy.”

“I wanted everyone to know the danger of sending the wrong signals.”

No. What you should have focused on was informing everyone of the importance of consent.

Try: It doesn’t matter what he/she misunderstands, no one has the right to your body.

Next.

“I genuinely care for my readers and over the years we have built a warm caring relationship, but I never underplay the seriousness of certain actions that could have negative consequences.”

Again, you need to sort out your priorities. You have clearly underplayed the seriousness of rape while overplaying the seriousness of this girl’s actions.

You are telling the girl that she has gotten exactly what she deserved, and that the guy is not to be blamed because she was asking for it. This is victim-blaming.

Look at your response.

“You can’t blame him for thinking a sexual connection was all right with you.”

Do you honestly still think you have no part to play in victim-blaming?

You don’t fault a girl for wearing a short skirt out. You blame the pervert who sees her as a piece of meat and helps himself to a serving without any consent.

A last note to Kelly- Congratulations, your debacle of an article made me spend USD2.69 on the online copy of Teenage so that I could properly read up on your response.

Dear ‘Emma’,

I’m terribly sorry for what has happened to you. I know this hurts on so many levels, and I can’t promise that you will feel better soon, but I trust that you will find the strength to pull yourself together.

You need to know that none of this is your fault. You were extremely trusting, and this ass of a friend took advantage of that. I’m glad you had someone to confide in.

If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here.

Don’t ever let anyone make you feel that you’re worth less after this incident. You are worth so much more than you know.

Liz.

Accompanied by sassy author byline ( highly inspired by Kelly's):

Having never qualified as a teacher or authority figure, Elizabeth Boon has only attended one counselling session in the course of her 24 years of life - that one time she pretended she was really upset to skip 2 hours of school. Over the past 24 years, she has never been invited to sit on panels and discussion groups, give talks, or taught any modules dealing with youth issues. She would probably still qualify as a youth. She counsels her three dogs at times. She engages in highly-competitive sushi eating sessions ( of no relevance, but I like to brag). In the 1970s, she was half a member of her mother's reproductive system, and half of her father's reproductive system. From 1979 to 1983, she was still pretty useless. Since 2016, Nov 12th, she has been responding to all sorts of weird people on her Dear Liz Column.

P.S. She also really loves CLEO Magazine - absolutely nothing to do with being the CLEO Ambassador.

( It's 6am, gimme a break)