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Prudie blames rape victim [probably not for the first time].

Prudie blames rape victim [probably not for the first time]. published on 3 Comments on Prudie blames rape victim [probably not for the first time].

A letter writer in her late 20s writes in Prudie's latest Slate column that she and her husband have negotiated the following boundaries: One time, they were drunk, and he was horny, but she did not want to have sex, so she shoved him away. They now agree, that, if they are drunk and/or sleepy, they should secure each other's consent before having sex. Good? Good!

Then they both got drunk. Her husband did not ask her consent, but she "went along," in her words. She concludes, "I can’t fathom how he could have ignored our agreement. Should I just drop it or am I right about feeling abused?"

In response, Prudie comments derisively on college codes of conduct that advise consent in sexual situations each time the participants start a new activity. She then contrasts such requirements to interactions in a married couple, where, she says, "implicit consent" can be assumed.

Prudie winds up by insulting the letter writer as "prim, punctiliious, punitive," while suggesting that the letter writer is abusing her husband: "Living in terror that expressing one’s perfectly normal sexual desire could end one’s marriage, and freedom, is itself a form of abuse."

Bloody hell, can we all see what's wrong with this response? The letter writer's husband forced himself upon her without obtaining her consent, as previously agreed. Why yes, in fact, that is rape. That's a problem!

Even if one has a hard time wrapping one's head around the fact that this interaction is rape [this is apparently Prudie's problem], one can at least admit that the letter writer's husband overrode a clearly stated boundary and thus disrespected the letter writer's autonomy and agency. This is also [at least] the second time that he has behaved in a similar manner. This is a red flag for, at worst, an abusive asshole and, at best, an individual so inculcated with cultural misogyny that he really needs to grow up and learn how to treat women like people before attempting further relationships. That's also a problem!

Prudie does not recognize these problems, however, because she is too busy making fun of the letter writer and talking out her ass about her ideal concept of marriage. Apparently, her vision of marriage includes unlimited license for one partner to rape the other. If the victim doesn't put out or even dares to feel disturbed about his or her agency being disregarded, the victim is being a poor partner. The victim's oversensitivity is stifling the rapist's "perfectly normal sexual desire." Don't you know that expecting a relationship based on mutual respect and enthusiastic consent "is itself a form of abuse?" The problem is all in the head of the victim, who should be lying back and thinking of Dan Savage. :p

That's rape culture right there: victim blaming, victim shaming and valorization of the rapist's feelings and experience over the victim's. And that's a problem!


I’m tempted to write her a letter saying, “Dear Prudie, oh thank you so much for the response to (this letter)! I’m a woman who has, for five years, been married to a man who has refused to meet my natural sexual needs. Especially during certain peak parts of my cycle I really need the release of sex and he’s actually called me “needy” and “pushy,” and refused to satisfy me. Thanks to your letter, I realize how selfish he is behaving. I showed him your response and made it clear to him that he needs to stop preventing me from expressing my natural sexuality with him, and in fact that by denying me, he’s abusing me. Thank you so much.”

How fast do you think she’s gonna turn this shit around and tell the woman she’s awful?

I won’t, but I am tempted. Prudie so frequently gives misogynistic and frankly BAD advice that I really cannot stomach her column.

I am of the humble opinion that the best advice and advice columns arise from compassion and a genuine fellow feeling and interest for other human beings. Captain Awkward, while not perfect [she can be ableist] really exemplifies this attitude. . Unfortunately, lots of big-name advice columnists, including Prudie, Dan Savage and that guy who writes Social Qs for the New York Times, apparently see their influential positions as all the better to mock, belittle and bully people from.

I really like Captain Awkward, and also Dear Sugar from The Rumpus. In fact some of the things that Sugar writes are so achingly beautiful they make me cry just with the force of the truth of them (also it’s pretty funny we share an online handle).

I definitely agree with you that if there is any single quality that makes someone a good advice columnist rather than a poor one, it is compassion/lack of judgment.

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