Dr Phil's bizarre rape tweet

Dr Phil's controversial tweet which was subsequently deleted.

Dr Phil's controversial tweet which was subsequently deleted.

Yesterday, the internet lost its collective marbles when the Twitter account of douchebag-in-disguise Dr Phil posted a tweet asking whether or not it was OK to have sex with a girl when she’s drunk. The tweet was quickly deleted, but not before approximately 50 phazillion people screencapped it and began replying with their own "questions".

 

 

Perhaps it's thanks to the focus on exposing and dismantling rape culture that has been steadily increasing in the past year, but it is heartening to see how many people responded with a mixture of anger, sarcasm and withering scorn. No, Dr Phil, the definitive reply seemed to be. If a girl is drunk, it ISN’T OK to have sex with her. Because targeted sex with a drunk person implies a lack of proper consent, and round these parts we understand that to be a little thing called "rape". Do you understand? Reply yes or no.

It's disappointing to say the least that one of the world's most well-known therapists (or his PR team) appears to think rape is a question that’s still open for debate. Before you argue that the assumption all sex with drunk women is rape actually denies women the autonomy of choice, let's consider the context of the environment in which Dr Phil is operating. Do we really think that women's empowerment was at the crux of his query? He has built a profitable industry out of delivering "real talk" to people - largely women - who display what he views as behavioural dysfunction. I very much doubt that the intention here was to begin a progressive dialogue on women's sexual liberation. Leaving aside the legal stupidity of even posing such a question (rape is rape, and it's not up to the public to decide what constitutes that), it's unlikely that people were even expected to reply yes. What Team Dr Phil wanted to happen - indeed, what they expected to happen - was to spark a conversation that once again positions girls and women as the gatekeepers of sexual activity and places the blame squarely at their feet when they fall down on the job.

That the tweet ended with the hashtag #teensaccused seems to support this. To wit, unfair accusations of rape can and are made against boys who - like those in Steubenville, Texas, Connecticut and almost every other town across America - are tricked into acting on their natural desires by girls who should know better than to engage in "risky activity". Hey, I'm not saying they are entirely at fault - but it takes two to tango, y'all.    

Dr Phil's comments perpetuate the sorely outdated view that some "claims" of rape aren't really that at all; that in fact, they're little more than incidents of sexual misconduct perpetrated by opportunistic men against women who fail to adequately understand that they can't just behave as they like without consequence.

As Emily Maguire writes in this excellent piece: “We all grow up being taught to pre-empt rape attempts, to second-guess the motivations of the men around us, to protect ourselves. Always protect ourselves. We get it. We live it. We do all that shit. And we still get raped.  We get raped sober and drunk. We get raped when we're out and when we're at home. We get raped wearing short skirts and wearing burqas, wearing school uniforms and wearing pyjamas. We get raped by men we know and by men we don't. We follow all of the rules in that stupid email forward purporting to be from some sex crimes expert or we follow none of them and it makes no difference.

"And then, and then, when we have failed - despite doing everything or nothing – to prevent our rapes, we are forced to fight for the right to even accurately describe what it is that has happened. Legitimate rape, forcible rape, genuine rape, rape rape: which was it?"

Yes, which was it? Was it the kind that involves the non-consensual violation of another human being, who may or may not even be aware of it at the time but who will certainly remember it forever after? Or was it that other kind of rape, the one where just maybe, possibly, probably there might have been something "the girl" (because it is only the rape of girls and women that is ever subject to interpretation) did to confuse the situation? Like wearing a skirt in a particularly inviting shade of short, or having had one too many vodka tonics? In those situations, can it really be said that it's "wrong" to have sex with her against her will or even knowledge? To view her as a convenient vessel rather than a human being deserving of respect, dignity and choice? It's just so CONFUSING, y'all!

We are slowly moving towards a place where attitudes like these are going the way of the dinosaurs who spout them, but they still sadly persist. As Dr Phil (or his PR team) demonstrate, they aren't isolated to the fringes of society, no matter how many outraged people strike back on Twitter or how quickly the offending sentiments are deleted or retracted. The broken record of women's culpability still plays on and on, long after the dusty turntable's been packed away, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t forget the words.

Still, there are relevant questions regarding girls and alcohol that need to be asked in a circumstance like this. Specifically:

I'm going to go with yes.

 

126 comments

  • Massive overreaction to this although the real question we should be asking is "is it ever ok to have sex with a drunk person regardless of gender?"

    How drunk is too drunk to consent and if both parties are drunk why is it the man's responsibility to gain consent and not the other way around?

    The whole consent issue is not black and white but contains many grey areas that can be particularly difficult for younger people. Do we need to have consent contracts?

    Commenter
    Freddie Frog
    Date and time
    August 22, 2013, 7:49AM
    • Not yes is the new no.

      Commenter
      Degast
      Location
      3181
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 12:03PM
    • I agree with you entirely. There are far too many variables to make a simple 'yes' or 'no' appropriate. Is the girl in question just tipsy (and can still think relatively clearly), or smashed off her face? Is the man drunk too - if so, who is raping whom? Is the man being raped if the woman is sober and he is drunk? Is the girl underage? Is he taking advantage of her? Is a one-night stand actually rape, considering so many of them are alcohol-fuelled? Is a person - male or female - responsible for their actions while drunk, considering that getting drunk in the first place is a personal choice (unless of course your drink has been spiked). What is the relationship of the two people before the drunk sex occured?

      There are a lot of elements here, and to say that every situation in which a drunk woman who has sex is rape is just about as ignorant as saying that it's always okay to have sex with a drunk woman.

      Commenter
      BecD
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 12:53PM
    • Rubbish. It's not that hard. If you are not getting a clear idea that sex is consensual don't even go there. Take the word no as what it is No! If a person is passed out or drunk then again, don't even go there. And guys ask yourself, do I have the right to take advantage of a situation?
      Would I think it was alright to have someone put something up my ass because I was drunk or passed out!

      Commenter
      Notgoingtotakeitanymore
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 1:16PM
    • @notgoingtotakeitanymore: Agreed, but that's not the question. Nobody is asking if it's okay to have sex with someone who says 'no', because the answer is obviously that it's not.

      The question is whether it's okay to have sex with somebody who says 'yes' while intoxicated.

      Commenter
      BecD
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 1:36PM
    • Take that in men. Just like the above commenter said, "if a person is…drunk, then again, don't even go there". Under no circumstances.
      When a woman is slurring that she thinks you're really "schhexy", mansplain to her that she's drunk and is unable to offer her consent. Afterall, it is us men who are the gatekeepers of a woman's sexuality, and we must protect her from herself.
      (In all seriousness, don't be a douche. You know very well if what you're doing is shady and dodgy. If it is, back away, and be happy that you survived another night out without becoming a complete douchecanoe.)

      Commenter
      Heisenberg
      Location
      thisaggression.wordpress.com
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 1:39PM
    • Maybe we need to carry around personal breathalysers.

      How drunk is drunk? >0.00? 0.01? 0.05? 0.08?

      If there is an ability to give a response then can you assume it is consent? But what if they initiate whilst drunk? Were they too drunk to give consent even though they weren't too drunk to rip your clothes off?

      Again, why is the onus on the man to be looking after the woman? Does she not have agency? Aren't women equal? If you don't like the fact that women are gatekeepers then why put the onus on men to act with your best interests in mind and look after you?

      Commenter
      Bender
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 1:42PM
    • @Notgoingtotakeitanymore you're totally missing the point of what @Freddie Frog is saying, and are coming from a very gender-biased standpoint. In most niteclubs and bars around Australia (and the world), drunk guys and drunk girls meet, get aquainted, go home together and have drunk sex. Both participants are drunk so whos taking advantage of who? And how drunk is too drunk? Of course if someone is passed out its obvious, but at most other levels between sober and passed-out theres a question mark. If both participants wake up in the morning not remembering a thing, then have they both been raped by each other? I know on more than one occasion I've woken up with a girl that I would not have gone home with sober. Does that mean I've been raped by them.

      Commenter
      genderbiased
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 2:03PM
    • Define drunk, lots of people of both genders going to jail if you define it as something above .05...

      Commenter
      Syd
      Location
      Syd
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 2:23PM
    • The feminist style dialouge will go over most people's head. I get it, but most won't. Time for feminists to get out of their ivory tower and speak everyday language, not ideology laden uni-speak.

      Commenter
      davidbru
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 4:24PM

More comments

Comments are now closed