Read the top post in today’s Dear Prudence chat. And then join me in a shiny hatefest.
I link to Dear Prudence in my sidebar because her constant slut-shaming (and every other kind of shaming) makes her one of the reasons I do what I do here. She literally never resists the chance to tell someone “Well, guess you should have thought of that before you wound up here, sucks to be you, ha ha!”
In today’s answer, she becomes several of these people at the same time.
We don’t have any details in the letter about what happened, and I’m not a detective or any of the principals involved in the story, which means that the truth is out there and I don’t know it.
What I do know is that if your friend says “I got really drunk to the point of incapacitation, and I had sex with this guy when I didn’t really want to and I really regret it” one day, and a few days later she says “I’ve been thinking about it more, and I think I may have been raped. Maybe he put something in my drink,” the correct response 100% of the time is:
1. Are you okay?
2. Do you want to talk about it?
3. What do you think you’ll do about that?
4. Can I help with anything?
And not “Well, I’ve seen you really drunk before, so you’re probably lying, and also, let’s think of the poor guy here. Do you really want to ruin his life with your trivial concerns that he put his penis in you when you couldn’t meaningfully consent to sex? I mean, where’s your evidence?”
Let’s talk about the particular horror of this sentence:
“Tell her that she needs to think very long and hard about filing a criminal complaint against this guy if there’s any way her behavior could be construed to be consensual.”
“Construed to be consensual?” What the everloving fuck? Is that the standard now, where if one partner “construes” things to be consensual it doesn’t matter whether it was actually consensual? How convenient.
The letter writer’s friend may in fact have a very weak criminal case.
The letter writer’s friend may well have holes in her memory and be confused about events.
The guy may have been just as drunk, making it a big gray area.
The letter writer’s friend may have gotten really drunk before….guess what? Putting your penis in really drunk people who can’t meaningfully consent is rape! It would have been rape all of those other times, too! Getting drunk doesn’t mean you automatically consent to whatever happens to you.
That’s theoretically why we have police detectives, prosecutors, and ultimately juries. If the lady makes a call to the cops, it doesn’t automatically mean that guy will be thrown in jail forever and ever, no matter what MRAs would have you believe. Maybe there will be some uncomfortable conversations and some fact-checking. If there is really and truly no evidence it will never even go to trial, much less “ruin” the guy’s life.
Whatever happened between the letter writer’s friend and that guy, the standard of what rape is does not depend on having a perfect victim who has never ever been drunk before and who also has never expressed doubt or second thoughts about anything, assaulted by a slavering beast stranger in a dark alley after saying “no” loudly and clearly and fighting back in the presence of several witnesses, calling the police immediately, and making sure there is a full array of damning forensic evidence conveniently on hand. So thanks, Prudence, for sending the message that being less than perfect means that you deserve whatever happens to you and that you better not speak up about it, and reminding us that if you say you are raped everyone will immediately scrutinize your behavior to figure out how you brought it on yourself.
Christ, what an asshole.