Friday, August 23, 2013

In Defense of Dr. Phil (and of Women Everywhere)

There are many times when I look at what is going on around me and think it must be some elaborate hoax staged for my benefit. Then, I realize I'm not that important and go back to wondering what the heck everyone else is thinking.

Dr. Phil, for instance. Have you heard about the tweet? Here it is (was -- he took it down):

"If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused "

People flipped out over this. Twitter users attacked him. I even just looked at a TIME magazine article that called it the "disappearing rape tweet" and that says: "Outrage after TV therapist asks if date rape is justified."


I'm no Dr. Phil fanatic, but the guy does a TV show and he discusses sometimes controversial interpersonal topics about which he expresses his opinions. The tweet, above, looks like a pretty straight-forward. 

(Maybe we English teachers are to blame, for teaching people how to "interpret" things -- to read below the written word. Maybe more English teachers should make a point of doing what I do with young readers of poetry: teach them to grasp the literal concepts before they start jumping to messages about life, love and death.)

He didn't ask if it is alright to "rape" her. He didn't ask if it is alright to get a girl intentionally drunk and then take advantage of her. He asked a much more general question: is it okay to have sex with a drunk girl. Like, ever -- at all. 

It seems to me that what he was looking for was how many right-minded guys would think about it and say: "No. It isn't okay. If she is drunk, she isn't making clear decisions." And, having seen a few of his shows, I'm reasonably sure that he would have pointed the results of his Twitter poll out and that he would have chastised anyone for thinking it is okay to take advantage of a girl's impaired state. 

People are in such a hurry to be "insightful" and supportive of the rights of their fellow humans that they don't bother to read or think before tweeting (or chirping or griping or attacking). Sure -- they are all in a hurry to "interpret" what they have half-heartedly skimmed over, but they don't want to take the time to process things on a nuts-and-bolts level. 

I'm a little disappointed that he took it down. I see the tweet as a research survey. I guess he took it down because there are bigger battles to fight. But it could have been a heck of a tool to use in order to point out how many creeps out there think it is okay to use alcohol to coax a woman into bed. And does anyone think -- because this is how they are reacting -- that Dr. Phil was seeking personal advice? (Like he'd spent the night before glaring at his wife after a few glasses of Yellow Tail and agonizing over whether he should make his move...)

No. Of course it is not okay to have sex with a girl if she is drunk (or, in my archaic opinion, if you are not deeply in love with her). But Dr. Phil didn't say (or even imply) that it is okay and he certainly was not seeking personal advice from the Twitterverse. He was just trying to figure out how many cavemen out there thought it is okay, so he could talk some sense into them. 

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