Last month, Spencer covered one of the worst instances of advice-giving ever to grace the pages of the internet. Chick gets fucked over by her friends, and columnist basically says “get over it, and don’t expect people not to be assholes unless they’re boning you or related to you.”
Well, now another delightful advice-giver, Lesley Garner at the Telegraph has added another twist to that mantra and reminded us that apparently you can’t even expect the people who are boning you not to act like assholes.
Via Amanda Hess at the Washington City Paper comes one of the worst advice columns I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot of Cary Tennis. What can I say? I’m a sucker for people’s problems.
The story is as follows: woman gets raped by her boss on a business trip. Her husband acts like a jackass. She’s going to get an abortion, but changes her mind and decides not to. She has the baby. She and her husband split up. Now she wants to get back together with her now ex-husband, for reasons that are not entirely clear. The gist of her request for advice is “Is there a chance, even a small chance, that we could get back together?”
To which the correct answer is, of course, “how the hell should I know?” and “how about you try talking to him?”
Sadly, that’s not what Ms. Garner delivers. No, she sees it as her job to question the woman’s claim that what happened to her was rape, tell her that it was selfish of her not to get an abortion because of how it might affect her husband, and spout lots of disgusting platitudes about men that show she really thinks quite poorly of them. As do most victim-blamers.
The basis for her questioning of the advice-seeker’s claim that she was raped is the last paragraph of the letter, which says:
If we do meet, and if he wants to talk about what happened, should I keep to my old story or should I tell him the truth? What happened on that trip wasn’t quite rape but I wasn’t exactly willing either. The man was my boss and he was very drunk and forceful. I tried to push him away without upsetting him, but he was too strong and I didn’t fight him. Maybe it is too late and too complicated.
Huh. Sounds like rape to me. If someone were paying me to be an advice columnist, I’d say “Honey, what happened to you was rape.” What’s happening in that last paragraph is a classic example of self-doubt that many victims of sexual assault go through. Because they live in a society where they are constantly blamed for apparently not saying no hard enough or loud enough or forcefully enough, they internalize that blame to the point where it doesn’t even need to be applied externally.
But Lesley Garner takes this obvious kernel of self-doubt, festering all these years, and takes it as proof that the woman wasn’t raped and instead was involved in a “situation.” Well, then. If it’s a situation, that’s a totally different story.
Even worse than this misinterpretation and misrepresentation is the insults that Garner heaps on men. According to Garner, “On the whole, men’s hearts are not melted by children who are not their own.” I’m guessing that will be news to the hundreds of thousands of men who throw their entire souls into parenting adopted children and step-children, and those who dedicate their free time or careers to helping kids.
What’s more, “Even a tender-hearted man is going to find it hard to be charmed by the child of a man he believes raped his wife.” Is that what parenting is about, being “charmed” by kids? Oh, they are so cute! I guess I will decide to provide for them.
Garner also apparently believes that whether or not a woman cares about her work is determined by whether or not her boss rapes her. She says, “how could you say that you liked your job?” Perhaps because her job did not consist entirely of the way she was treated by her boss? Last year, I worked for an organization where one of my bosses was drunk and verbally abusive. And yet, I loved the work deeply. It made it hard to leave, but come on, Garner, have a little imagination.
It’s funny, because anti-feminists always accuse feminists of being anti-men. But every time I see something that raises my feminist hackles, it’s expressing a much lower opinion of the compassion, intellect, and integrity of men than the one I hold.