Ask Amy: Responds, Makes Marginal Progress | Bleader

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ask Amy: Responds, Makes Marginal Progress

Posted By on 12.08.09 at 02:05 PM

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It's good that Amy Dickinson recognizes her victim-blaming tone, but there are a couple problems with her sorta-culpa:

"After saying in advance that she didn't want to have sex, she did have sex."

That's not what I read. She made it very clear that she didn't want to have sex, multiple times, and got a promise... and then something happened: "proceeded to go against what he 'promised'." It's unclear what that involved, but it wasn't sex. If it wasn't consensual, she didn't have sex. Dickinson is doubly confused here, both in terms of the details of the letter and the accepted definition of rape.

"I told her that the perpetrator should be confronted by authorities at school because he might have done this before and might do it again unless he is stopped."

Actually, this is what she wrote: "You must involve the guy in question in order to determine what happened and because he absolutely must take responsibility and face the consequences for his actions, just as you are prepared to do. He may have done this before."

The more I read that, the less I know what she means.

I think Dickinson and her critics are somewhat closer on a lot of the particulars than it might appear, and the problem is hers. Her initial response was slap-dash and unclear, and if she didn't intend what people are accusing her of intending, she didn't help her case by not giving clear advice in a situation that, above all things, calls for precise language and the utmost care.

There are of course greater issues at stake, such as the gender divide in issues of safety on college campuses (and elsewhere), but Amanda Hess deals with those better than I can.

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