Robin Abrahams (a.k.a Miss Conduct) calls attention to a maelstrom of woman-hating insanity over on Double X. A woman wrote in to their friendship advice columnist wanting to know if she should forgive her friends, who, after she’d been roofied, half-assed a response when she called them from outside the club they were at asking for help, and then blew her off later when she called to ask them to keep her company in the ER. The columnist, Lucinda Rosenfeld, tells the letter writer that her friends weren’t obligated to get out of bed at 4 a.m. to come hold her hand, which, whatever. I might not agree, but it’s not clear what the friends knew when, so how they reacted when they got the whole story from her later might be more revealing than their actions that night, and the letter doesn’t mention that. So I’m not going to condemn her for the advice itself.
But the way she gave it! Holy fuck am I going to condemn her for that! Here’s a few choice quotes:
For one thing, it’s not even necessarily safe—depending on where you live and how far you live from the hospital—for a woman to head out alone at that hour. [...]
Here’s a little secret. BFFs are great when you’re upset about a boy/sick cat/whatnot. But there are limits to friendship—limits that don’t apply to our romantic partners or close family members. [...] I also wish they’d been a less critical of what was, by your account, a freak incident. Why were they so unforgiving? I’d wager a guess that they think you’re lying about the mickey, tales of which are sometimes used as a cover for irresponsible behavior. (Only you know the truth.)
Shockingly, at least to Rosenfeld, the comment section erupted with people disagreeing with both the substance and delivery of her response. Many pointed out that people who ignore pleas for help from someone who may just have been raped are not that person’s friend*. Others pointed out the massive vortex of victim-blaming and slut-shaming that is rapidly sucking away my ability to form complete sentences. So she apologized! Wow!
Except, not really at all! Fuck!
I was struck by how many readers seemed to be hearing echoes of date rape or sexual abuse in “Drugged’s” story. I have to admit, I did not think of that at the time. There is no evidence in her letter that she was a victim of a sex crime. And I believe that if she had been, or thought she had been, she would have alluded to it in the letter. All we know is that something she drank caused her to pass out. Moreover, had I believed for a second that she’d been assaulted, I would have responded in an entirely different manner.
A woman was roofied in a crowded bar and woke up hours later lying in the middle the sidewalk with no recollection of where that time had gone AND RAPE NEVER OCCURRED TO YOU? Well Jesus Fucking Christ, if that’s actually true you should really just resign right this fucking second, because you have the insight and perspicacity of a particularly slow-witted carp, which makes you spectacularly unqualified to give advice on interpersonal relationships.
And, you know, it seems to me that when someone helpfully points out that the number one cause of getting an incapacitating drug slipped into your drink in a public place is that a RAPIST is trying to RAPE you, the correct response is not to act say, “Even though I never thought of that possibility, I also carefully weighed the evidence and concluded that didn’t happen.” Even if she wasn’t raped or otherwise assaulted—and I fervently hope she was not—it seems pretty fucking clear that someone wanted to have access to her when she was in such a state that she could neither consent nor resist, and that’s pretty fucking scary in my book, whether that person succeeded or not.
She also seems to have a lot of rape on the brain for someone who never even considered the possibility that the LW had been sexually assaulted. That stuff about how it may not be safe for a woman to go out alone at night means she is thinking about gendered violence in general and probably of stranger rape in particular. And then there’s that charming little bit about how maybe the LW is lying about the drugging to cover “irresponsible behavior,” which MAKES ME BARF MY FACE OFF, but which also implicitly acknowledges that there are women who are drugged in the exact same way that the LW describes expressly so that some rapist will have an easier time raping them. So if the possibility that someone raped or attempted to rape the LW never crossed her waterlogged fish brain, why is she so afraid that the LW’s friends will get raped by a stranger jumping out of the bushes and into their moving cars somehow? What makes her so concerned that the LW might be one of those slutty-slut-sluts who makes up a story about drugs and rape to cover up for her shameful sluttitude? What mysterious external force that had not one fucking thing to do with the letter she was reading caused her thoughts to turn repeatedly to rape? WHATEVER COULD IT BE WE WILL NEVER SOLVE THIS UNSOLVABLE RIDDLE OF MYSTERY I AM SURE.
There is more extremely stupid shit that really deserves a takedown, but I don’t have the time or the patience. I will say that this kind of shit is exactly why I go out of my way to never, ever click on a Double X story, even if it’s by a blogger I really like. Pageviews make them bigger and stronger, and imply that people accept them as a feminist, or at least woman-friendly, website. The bigger they are, the more weight it carries when they reinforce stereotypes and repeat anti-feminist arguments, because they’re spreading this tripe from a position of authority. I’m not going to fight for social justice here and out in the world only to undermine myself with my clicks.
*In reality, many rape victims find that their friends and family refuse to believe them, blame them, and even become angry them when they share their experience. Anecdotally, it seems women are especially prone to this kind of reaction because many of us want to believe that if we follow the rules, it can’t happen to us, and being confronted by evidence that this is nothing more than a lie we tell ourselves so we can feel safe is extremely frightening.