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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Column In Question

Posted by on Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Here's one of the questions that was submitted to me by an audience member at my "Savage Love Live" Q&A appearance last week at the University of North Carolina at Asheville:


I read the question but wasn't able to answer it. Because I couldn't recall ever telling a reader who claimed that she was raped that she hadn't been raped. So I invited the person who asked the question to email a link to the column she was referring to and I promised to answer her question on Slog. And away we go:

Dear Dan: Here it is. I can't believe you don't remember this. I think it speaks to your character. Especially when you told us tonight that you don't know your own flaws. For all the good that you do, sometimes you really suck as a human being. Have a lovely night,


P.S. People ask questions to you like tonight in an anonymous setting because they know that you just brush off any criticism. Being witty doesn't give you "A Get Out of Being a Human Being" card either.

My response to Lauren after the jump...


Dear Lauren,

The question you submitted last night reads: "Regarding your column where you told a reader who claimed she was raped she might the lying… would you like to formally apologize? Have you already?"

I didn't tell the woman whose question I answered in the column you cite that she wasn't raped. Indeed, I told her that I hoped she had gone to the police and I urged her to press charges against the man who sexually assaulted her. Did you read the column? The fact that I didn't say what you claimed I said may be why this particular column, out of the thousands of columns I've written over the years, didn't spring immediately to mind when I read your question. (Also: the LW didn't use the term "rape" in her question, either, and the term "rape" doesn't appear anywhere in my response—but that's hairsplitting.)

In answer your question: No, I haven't apologized for that column and I'm not going to now. I stand by my advice to the LW. I may have been a little too blunt—perhaps I shouldn't have told the LW she was being a total shit—but I thought she was being selfish and cruel to her husband and I was trying to get through to her in my response. Rereading the column now I think the "selfish shit" line should've been cut—I should've pulled that particular punch—but I stand by the advice I gave the LW then and I stand by it now.

And I did not tell her that she was lying about being raped. Where on earth did you get that? "Reading comprehension fail," as the kids say.

I'm sincerely curious what would you would have advised the LW to do. I thought what she was doing was cruel and shitty, obviously, as that's what I wrote; and I thought she needed counseling, which I urged her to get. (And, again, I urged her to press charges—and why would I do that if I thought she was lying about being raped?) What advice would you have given her? Besides not writing to me and asking for mine, of course.

And the fact that LW did write to me and did ask for my advice is material. Remember, Lauren: it's advice, not binding arbitration. This LW, like all LWers, is free to disregard my advice. But, yes, I was blunt. Typically blunt. I'm always blunt. And people who write to me seeking my advice… well, they're reading the column, Lauren, otherwise they wouldn't know to write me and ask for my advice, right? And they know I'm blunt. They want me to be blunt. They're seeking bluntness. Also, there's always a lively debate about my advice—with people offering differing views, second opinions, referrals and research—in the comment threads attached to each of my columns. So every LW, including the one whose letter you cite, gets second, third, fourth, and many more opinions.

Finally, Lauren, if you knew this was the question you were asking about last night—if this was the exchange that you were so angry about—why would you misrepresent it the way you did? I'd love to know what you were thinking. Otherwise i'll have to conclude that you were being intentionally dishonest, misleading, and manipulative, and you baiting me in what was, judging from the response I got at UNCA, a failed effort to turn the crowd against me.



P.S. I was kidding about not remembering my flaws. I didn't rattle any off, true, but I was making a joke at my own expense. Rest assured: I'm aware of my flaws. Acutely aware of them. Most days they're pretty much all I think about.


I appreciate the timely reply, thanks.

I know you weren't accusing her of lying, I just took the opportunity to send you this as well because it REALLY bothered me. I assumed you wouldn't open it unless I put some sort of catchy title. That's my fault. Sorry for being a little bit of an ass. It happens a lot. Re: this column...

I guess we have totally different attitudes toward processing things. I do find you funny and I didn't come just to heckle last night. That column is just a sore spot for me. I still think its damaging to someone who was sexually assaulted to call them a piece of shit especially when people who are survivors act irrationally to a lot of stuff. It isn't a good feeling to be in that place of distrust. There are always other things that may have influenced her irrationality, but it's not productive to kick someone when they're down. She does need therapy—I'm not referring to that—I'm referring to the fact that you accuse her of trying to get out of a relationship and not loving her husband. That's not cool to me. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't, but I feel that since she took the time to write and does seem concerned she still has an attachment. She does say that it hurts her, iirc. Have a nice weekend & sorry for asshattery



Comments (91) RSS

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bleedingheartlibertarian 1
I was hoping it was the girl with two clits writing in to say that she does, in fact, exist.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on September 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
So few of us asshatters get around to apologizing. I'm glad Lauren did.
Posted by gloomy gus on September 17, 2012 at 3:12 PM · Report this
evilvolus 3
Let me be the first to say: fuck off, troll.
Posted by evilvolus on September 17, 2012 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 4
Um...let's hope - with her writing and spelling skills - that's she's a freshman. Are spelling and grammar no longer issues in getting into college or do you only need to ace the SATs?

Posted by Bauhaus I on September 17, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
I agree with Dan on that column. I'm a victim of sexual assault AND an abusive childhood but that doesn't give me any right to take it out on other people.
Posted by tigntink on September 17, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
disintegrator 6
So that was basically 'Sorry that I publically accused you of something that you didn't do, but I wanted to have a discussion about this completely different thing.'

Seems like a roundabout way to have a conversation.
Posted by disintegrator on September 17, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 7
I think Lauren was being a total shit.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on September 17, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Well, at least Lauren apologized for being a prick - and I thought the advice was dead on. LW WAS being selfish and shitty. If my wife, gods forbid, was ever sexually assaulted, I hope like hell I'd be willing to go as long as it took for her to be comfortable having sex again. If, on the other hand, she found it perfectly reasonable to fuck around with other men while being repulsed by me, I think my response would turn quite quickly to 'Fuck you very much.' She has every right to take as long as necessary to get over the trauma of the incident. But unless that other guy has miraculously magical healing properties found only in his dick, her husband has no obligation to be expect anything les than monogamy until the issue is resolved.
Posted by NateMan on September 17, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
we are just shocked that this open relationshit isn't working....
Posted by she deserved to be raped on September 17, 2012 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Oh, the self-righteousness of the young.

Here in the adult world, it turns out divorce is an unpleasant reality for a lot of people and they will sabotage a relationship so that the other person is forced to make the hard choice. Sometimes they write letters to advice columnists hoping that the advice will spare them from making the hard decision. Same goes for a lot of couples counselors. People just want permission.
Posted by Tyler Pierce on September 17, 2012 at 3:21 PM · Report this
What a little cunt!
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on September 17, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 12
If her point was "you shouldn't have called her a selfish shit because she obviously was traumatized and needed counseling", okay, fine, that's a conversation that could be had. But... obviously the question as written implies that someone said she was raped and Dan said she was lying.

I think this Lauren person is selling herself short when she says she was being "a little bit" of an ass.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on September 17, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 13
@4 A Permanent Frosh, if she keeps insisting that every author/celeb is talking about/to her. She seems a bit too invested in a remark from 2 years ago directed at someone else. Perhaps there is a little more to the identifying than just run-of-the-mill teenage desperation.
Posted by Sir Vic on September 17, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
balderdash 14
So she made up a transparently false accusation in order to get a reaction?

Lauren! You're a troll! That is precisely the definition of trolling!

Knock that shit off!
Posted by balderdash on September 17, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
kcrobinson 15
You know, Dan, her "asshattery" aside, Lauren makes a really good point about your advice to the LW in her apology letter. The LW obviously was feeling guilty over what she herself recognized as an irrational mistrust in her husband. That has to be a traumatic experience in and of itself to be repulsed by someone you love over something neither of you can control. While she needed to be called out for still having sex with her boyfriend at the expense of her husband's feelings, your advice seems more like you're blaming her for not being able to control her feelings. I can see now that you're not trying to do that, but I remember reading your advice when it came out and feeling astonished at the lack of sympathy you had for her.
Posted by kcrobinson on September 17, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 16
*sigh* Time for another glitterbombing.
Posted by MacCrocodile on September 17, 2012 at 3:27 PM · Report this
@15: She was intentionally having sex with someone else while rejecting her husband, and making her revulsion at his touch quite clear, I have no doubt, to said supportive husband. She was also, meanwhile, forgoing genuine improvement for a good dicking.

Fuck her feelings. I'm truly sorry someone was such a cruel and vicious bastard as to assault her. That's a terrible thing no One should have to go through, and far too many do. But they don't have the right to fuck over the people that love them.
Posted by NateMan on September 17, 2012 at 3:32 PM · Report this
Sketch 18
Dan, I think what happened here is that she MISREAD your, "you're playing the victim card," as "you're playing the victim," took it to mean "you're PRETENDING to be a victim," and went from there.

That's the only interpretation that makes sense to me, because her explanation in the second e-mail makes no sense at all. If she had known you didn't say that, why would she have phrased her question on the card the way she did, knowing that you could not possibly speak to why you'd done something you never did?

"Getting you to open this" is a silly excuse, and it doesn't mesh with all her outrage there still about you not remembering saying what she now claims she always knew you didn't say. I bet she didn't realize until she received your reply, looked at the column again, and went, "Oh, shit!" Then she was embarrassed and made up a flimsy and inconsistent excuse.
Posted by Sketch on September 17, 2012 at 3:33 PM · Report this
I remember being young, when I had all the answers, and everything was so nice and black and white. Luckily, I grew up. I much prefer living in this wild colorful world, with very few clear answers, and where there is rarely a singular right or wrong in anything.

Hopefully, Lauren will grow up too, and stop being so fucking judgemental.
Posted by SeattleKim on September 17, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
@15 Its called playing the victim. If she really cared she wouldn't have continuously slept with the bf, particularly in the face of a husband with a broken heart. Dan needed to show that she may very well have been using it as an excuse to leave her husband. People may not be able to control their feelings but they sure as hell can control their actions.
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on September 17, 2012 at 3:36 PM · Report this
I bet it was the "I hope you pressed charges" that made it sound like you were accusing her of lying. If you spend any time around the internet, or, hell, most real life, when the subject of rape comes up, you'll find the very common attitude of "police or it didn't happen." So, "I hope you pressed charges" carries a not very subtle implied corollary: "Or we know you are a lying bitch."
I personally don't think that's what you meant, but it did sound like a dogwhistle. (I hope in this crowd I don't need to spell out why a poly woman who was raped by an intimate partner is less likely to press charges.)
Posted by CLDG on September 17, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Playing victim brings people who want to treat you like a victim. Not sympathy.
Posted by erly on September 17, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
I remember that column. I had been sexually assaulted not long before it came out and then entered into my first physical relationship with a man, so it stuck in my head pretty firmly.

Dan was right then and remains right. There's nothing about being a rape victim that means we can't be complete shits sometimes. If a woman couldn't handle having sex with men at all after her assault, that would be something to work out with her husband in therapy and his needs and his hurt would have to be taken into account as well. If she has a boyfriend that she's happily banging while leaving her poor husband deprived and blaming it all on her victimhood, she is being a complete shit.

I have PTSD. It's miserable for me, but can also lead to me hurting the people around me as I shut down and withdraw. This does not give me a right to be an asshole or string people along. Either the relationship matters and you work on it together, or it doesn't and you free the other person to save them further pain.
Posted by Zuulabelle on September 17, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Anybody notice the last comment in the old article? Its from June 28, 2012 and reads, "Seriously, Dan Savage? Fuck you. Unless you have been in her position, you will NEVER understand sexual assault well enough to say the shit that you just did. You have no idea what she's been through. No. Stop. You don't. You think you do, but you really, really don't. PTSD (or anyone like her), if you're reading the comments, go to They will give you some REAL support and advice because the people on that forum know what it's like. God speed in your recovery." and is from someone named catikay.

Methinks we have conspiracy.
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on September 17, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
gttim 25
Siding with Dan here. I don't think it is because of the sexual assault that she is repulsed by having sex with her husband if she is loving sex with her boyfriend. The husband needs to DTMFA.
Posted by gttim on September 17, 2012 at 3:42 PM · Report this
usually this sort of thing interests me but this is less the politics of sexuality and more some he said she said bullshit between Dan Savage and a non? Dan Savage fan or attention seeker.

Im not sure who edits this paper or checks the emails when you are away dan but a man shot himself in the head and killed himself in broad daylight in front of a crowd of people in Fremont on a packed afternoon.

Its been said elsewhere but 'is it not news because they didn't take anyone with them?' Its terrible. I go to the Slog for my breaking news or NWCN and there has to be more to this story that you as journalists owe your readers to find out.

if you all have the beat of the city than whats up? I want the news and not just you letting us know that some bratty reader sent you a trollish email.
Posted by grace on September 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
puppydogtails 27
Dan, for some reason, you have some of the worst "fans" in the world. (Plus some of the best, who have posted in this thread.) This Lauren character is an immature twat.
Posted by puppydogtails on September 17, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
@27: Isn't twat an immensely satisfying word? It's one, much like dipshit, that tells a reader exactly what you mean without further clarification.
Posted by NateMan on September 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
"I'm referring to the fact that you accuse her of trying to get out of a relationship and not loving her husband. That's not cool to me. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't, but I feel that since she took the time to write and does seem concerned she still has an attachment. She does say that it hurts her, iirc."

And? That it hurts her to possibly end her marriage DOES NOT MEAN that she does not wish to end her marriage. So, from what you've said here, you agree with Dan.
Posted by just not his phrasing on September 17, 2012 at 4:01 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 30
@ 2, indeed.
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 17, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Hopefully Lauren learns to read carefully and think it through before expressing umbrage in public. Getting all bent out of shape because you misunderstood something is a really excellent way to embarrass yourself.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on September 17, 2012 at 4:19 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 32
Lauren: Your advice is bad, your communication is bad, your reading comprehension is bad,
and you should feel bad.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on September 17, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
After doing a little digging, there's no conspiracy...
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on September 17, 2012 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Dear Very Very Young Person,
Being sexually assaulted does not make you a good person. It does not make all your actions thenceforth above criticism because: raped! That right there is some piece of shit reasoning. And it casts the victim of assault into some sort of perpetual victim status that must overwhelm all other areas of her life, where her actions will not be judged as we do other grown-up's actions. This is not a humanizing way to treat those who have been assaulted.

PS: I usually figure everyone over 18 and out of their parent's house should be treated as a consenting adult able to take responsibility for their actions. You got the 'you young young thing' treatment by personifying the entitled little navel gazer who doesn't see anything wrong with ignoring facts that get in the way of her right to feel all aggrieved.

If you have to alter your oppressor's quotes to feel properly oppressed, you're doing it wrong.
Posted by IPJ on September 17, 2012 at 4:43 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 35

"I go to the Slog for my breaking news"

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"
Posted by Doctor Memory on September 17, 2012 at 4:43 PM · Report this
nocutename 36
I'm sorry to hear this. Have you tried EMDR? (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming) for help with your PTSD?
I know it can sound wacky. But it has done wonders for a lot of people who've been through trauma.
Posted by nocutename on September 17, 2012 at 4:50 PM · Report this
nocutename 37
I remember this letter, too, and remember thinking that there was a big piece of information missing.
Why would a sexual assault by someone other than her husband leave her unable to stand his touch, but totally fine with her boyfriend's? I can understand her being repulsed by all sexual touch after an assault--her husband's as well as her boyfriend's. And I could understand her aversion to her husband if he was the one to assault her. But as written, I did a lot of head-scratching.
Posted by nocutename on September 17, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
Oh I get it. Mr. Savage accused the woman of lying TO HERSELF about what she really wanted from her husband. Lauren's note is worded such that it looks like he was accusing her of lying about being raped, though.
Posted by DRF on September 17, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Report this
I'd just delete this post altogether or replace it with something else if I were Dan. Thus denying her the satisfaction of the publicity she is obviously seeking.
Posted by FormerSeattelite on September 17, 2012 at 5:18 PM · Report this
@21 I don't read "I hope you pressed charges" as "charges or it didn't happen". I read it as "Please help us to lock up the rapist and put him on the sex offender registry so he has a harder time doing this to somebody else." Am I being too literal?

Not an idle question, by the way: I have a former coworker who is in a position to credibly press a charge of rape against her boss, and I've made it clear that I would be happy to support any decision she made about doing that. Am I doing something wrong by telling her that?
Posted by Thexalon on September 17, 2012 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Hi Dan,

I thought the last sentence of your original advice was over-the-top, actually: "If you're not willing to do those things, PTSD, then stop emotionally assaulting your husband and put both your marriage and him out of their misery."

To me, the way you used "emotionally assaulting" looks like you're equating what the LW is doing to her husband with the sexual assault that she suffered. I don't think the two actions are comparable, and I think that is a pretty shitty thing to say to someone who just suffered a sexual assault. While being a victim of an assault doesn't entitle anyone to hurt others, I think that when someone is still reeling from something like that, a little gentleness is in order.

I do agree with urging her to see a counselor.
Posted by lurkylurky on September 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM · Report this
@40, I believe you (and Dan) mean that, but sadly, I've seen way, way, way too much victim blaming.

Your situation is a really tough thing, because what you have is a small chance of making society better v. near certainty of re-victimizing the victim. I say small chance because non-stranger rape is very hard to prosecute (statutory less so because all they have to prove is sex happened - guessing that's why the registries are full of those). Bringing an accusation will start a humiliating and invasive investigation, and if he's "somebody" which "boss" implies, he's going to get a lot of support from people who want to believe she's crazy/lying/gold-digging, etc. If it gets to the point of a defense atty getting ahold of her, well, I just couldn't try to persuade someone to go through that given the very small chance of it doing some good.

If she *wants* to do it, then great, but I could never blame anyone for just wanting the violation to stop. Yes, this situation worsens a societal problem, because it means that acquaintance rape continues to be something that rapists are likely to get away with, but that is not HER fault. That is the fault of the criminal justice system and a culture that scrutinizes victims like criminals. Making him stop didn't become her job because he raped her, know what I mean?

Here's a good place to start:…
Posted by CLDG on September 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM · Report this
What a nasty little girl! She lied about RAPE to make someone else (Dan) look bad in front of 100s of people. The fact that it was someone else's rape doesn't absolve the shittiness of it.

I hate when people do something horrible, and then they're like, "I'm SORRY, OK?!?" as if that makes it better. No. That's not how the world works. You can't just act like an asshole, "apologize," act like an asshole, "apologize", etc. and everyone forgives you, wipes the slate clean, and thinks you're wonderful. I don't care that Lauren apologized. What she did to Dan was colossally horrible.
Posted by mitten on September 17, 2012 at 5:59 PM · Report this
julie russell 44
Asheville is Mtnbike heaven
Posted by julie russell http:// on September 17, 2012 at 6:44 PM · Report this
@26 EMDR is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, not reprogramming. important difference.
Posted by gracey on September 17, 2012 at 6:49 PM · Report this
Lauren characterizing her actions here as "a little bit of asshattery" is bullshit obfuscating.

I think her actions, and her half-assed non-apology when called on it, speak to her character.

Sometimes Lauren really sucks as a human being.

Lauren's lack of wit doesn't give her "A Get Out of Being a Human Being" card either.

Posted by Functional Atheist on September 17, 2012 at 6:54 PM · Report this

I hope Lauren learns a lesson, here: be absolutely rock solid in your proof of foul doings before accusing anyone of anything, ever. ESPECIALLY if that accusation is public. Not very nice to have egg in the face.
Posted by weatherwax on September 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Report this
Wow. Outrageous.

I remember that column. I remember thinking that woman sounded like one of the most deplorable people ever to write in. And I remember thinking Dan's analysis was exactly write.

In retrospect...nothing has changed. Was a despicable person. And now another.
Posted by karamzov on September 17, 2012 at 8:51 PM · Report this
nocutename I believe the LW said that there was some physical resemblance between her attacker and her husband which may be why his touch triggers her. Her boyfriend doesn't resemble the attacker at all which may be why she's cool with his advances.
Posted by msanonymous on September 17, 2012 at 9:08 PM · Report this
Fuck that troll 2x.Once for putting up some bullshit, and again for trying to make nice with Dan.
Posted by Up all night on September 17, 2012 at 10:38 PM · Report this
Lauren's reply brought me to tears.

It reminded me of something Dan had said once that so enraged me. I tried to write him but couldn't finish. When I calmed down I was surprised by the intensity of my response. But Dan had touched on a subject that had effected me when I was young. And suddenly this hero of mine that had taught me so much and given me so much courage, had become the bully who kept me ashamed of myself for so many years.

Of course he wasn't trying to be a bully. And if I had sent that letter I'm sure he would have defended what he'd said, and yet still show compassion for what I had gone through like he has for Lauren
Posted by Lunar614 on September 17, 2012 at 11:37 PM · Report this
Somebody wanted attention and they got it...
Posted by bittergaymark on September 17, 2012 at 11:56 PM · Report this
Wow. Get that girl a Republican National Committee t-shirt and put her to work. Though she'll have to work on her game a bit, apologizing isn't allowed at the national level.
Posted by ace9415 on September 18, 2012 at 1:11 AM · Report this
@26--if I'm reading this correctly, he promised her at the Q&A that if she followed up with a link to the column, he would answer her in the blog. This looks like he was simply honoring his commitment, although she turned out to be a bit of a troll. It doesn't mean that he's decided that this one comment from a bratty Q&A attendee is more important than local news, but Dan's blog posts aren't generally about local, non-sexuality-related news, anyway.
Posted by lulubelle on September 18, 2012 at 1:57 AM · Report this
Christampa 55
@54 - I can attest that this is exactly what happened. There were a few other troll questions that night, that he deftly parried, but I think the particular accusation here warranted this sort of rebuttal. I'd actually been looking forward to see if this was coming, and I'm glad it did, as I sure as hell don't remember Dan saying anything of the sort.
Posted by Christampa on September 18, 2012 at 2:14 AM · Report this
milemarker 56
Lauren, Dan Savage ought to sue your ass into the stone age for pulling that stunt.

You told a lie. That's all this issue will ever be about from now now - your lie.

Read "The Children's Hour" sometime. It's about a lie that a young girl told. You just did the same thing.


Posted by milemarker on September 18, 2012 at 2:53 AM · Report this
@36 & @45:

EMDR has been thoroughly debunked. Any benefit is purely placebo.
Posted by Margaret L. on September 18, 2012 at 4:03 AM · Report this
Alanmt 58
And a hearty Fuck Off to comment 301 in that old thread. This whole idea that "you can't understand someone else's trauma unless it happened to you" is utter bullshit that should be rejected at every opportunity.

1. We as humans are uniquely endowed with both empathy and imagination. This is why we can imagine what it is like even though it has never happened to us.

2. This whole "you don't know what it's like" philosophy is nothing but an accessory to unhealthy self-indulgent victimhood by which those who have been wrongfully harmed in some way try to selfishly convert it into a lifetime of sympathy and a general excuse for failing to get on with their lives and constructively dealing with their trauma.
Posted by Alanmt on September 18, 2012 at 5:50 AM · Report this
11 & 56, can we please avoid misogynist slurs? Don't be lazy--use a little imagination in your insults!
Posted by clashfan on September 18, 2012 at 6:50 AM · Report this
BrotherBob 60
@27 and @28, twit is an insult twat is a sexual term and IMHO shouldn't be used as an insult.

(ditto "prick" and "dick")

asshole is still open for debate
Posted by BrotherBob on September 18, 2012 at 8:04 AM · Report this
Hey 'Lauren', as a woman, a feminist and as someone who's been raped, let me tell you that you made an outrageous claim just for attention and then issued a wacked-out, off-topic "apology" that only tells me that I hope I am never in a position in my life where I have to trust you at any level.
Posted by LaSargenta on September 18, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
Narcissist VS narcissist. Or asshattery VS asshattery, as the kids would say.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 18, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
@18 You have managed to decipher the indecipherable... you deserve some kind of emapthy award. I would never be able to figure out what is going on in the head of this weirdo. Or maybe I would, but I don't care enough to try because she obviously has the emotional (and possibly mental) age of a 6 year old.

I disagree with those of you who think PTSD is playing the victim. She wrote into Dan asking for advice, not asking for validation. She brought up the possibility of therapy before he did. She made the majority of the letter about her husband's suffering, not about her own suffering. She said "watching him suffer like this is unbearable." That is not the sort of thing a self pitying idiot would say.

PTSD seems like a nice enough person, and nothing like the manipulative bitch Dan assumed she was. Even if he took out the shit line, his harsh tone would still imply that he thinks she is scum. "Do you love your husband? Is your marriage a priority? Then start acting like it" This goes beyond simply being blunt. He is accusing her of lying about loving her husband. That is not as bad as accusing her of lying about being raped, but it's still a pretty fucking terrible thing to accuse somebody of. Especially somebody asking for advice about how to make their husband happy.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 18, 2012 at 9:19 AM · Report this
geoz 64
Look at that! She started out as a total shit herself, and then was again in the reply, but then, finally came out of it in the final note. That is very difficult to do. I'm giving that a 8.8 in difficulty, and she landed it. Well done Lauren.

I love thoughtful engaged debate and you both eventually got there - with substantial prodding from Dan.
Posted by geoz on September 18, 2012 at 9:21 AM · Report this
I think it would be fair to say that PTSD was looking for advice while making it very, very clear that she really didn't want to change: she was already aware of what she needed to do (therapy, stop shitting on her husband) but hadn't done that because banging the boyfriend was so wonderful. In other words, she already knew what she had to do, and hadn't done it, and, in all likelihood, wasn't going to do it. Dan didn't call her out for lying or being manipulative: he called her out for her selfish asshole conduct. Just because there's a reason for bad conduct doesn't necessarily provide an excuse for bad conduct, especially where the person in question is [as PTSD so clearly was] intellectually and emotionally aware of the damage she was causing and refusing to do anything about it.

This is one of those letters which are of exceptional interest in the "how did THAT turn out?" category. I hope that PTSD writes in.
Posted by seeker6079 on September 18, 2012 at 10:25 AM · Report this
Hi -

When I read the column it bothered me too, and still bothers me. I guess in that sense I understand what Lauren was feeling. Dealing with abuse or rape can be a total mind fuck. I've been there before. In dealing with the aftermath of it, I did and said things I wasn't proud of and that just plain didn't make any sense. Those things were technically my fault, but when I think back on that time, I realized that I'm not really a bad person, I was just so confused and hurt that I couldn't make tops or tails of anything anymore. Getting therapy is important, but it isn't always clear to everyone that it is the obvious choice; many people in our culture are still anti-therapy, or you might get a therapist that sucks (I did, until I got a different one).

Basically, even if what Dan said was true, I don't think it was helpful. Its like great - congrats - you identified the truth. But that doesn't make someone's life better. The response could have said all the same things and yet been extremely more sympathetic. And I think a professional advice columnist would have recognized that.

Anyone who has been the victim of rape or abuse knows that a significant number of people - people you thought you could trust - will not be kind to your in the aftermath. Victim blaming is so common, there must be some sort of psychological mechanism at work, I don't know. But the very last thing that women needed, was another person yelling at her. Absolutely. The very last thing.
Posted by catfish82 on September 18, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
@65 That is a good point, she already knew what she needed to do. It's not unheard of for people to write to Dan about problems they already know the solution to, looking for somebody to agree with them. Others seem to assume her arm needed to be twisted into seeking out therapy, but I still think it is harsh to accuse her of playing the victim card. Nothing about her letter suggests that she is trying to use the assault as an excuse. I didn't say anything indicating I think the assault is an excuse either.

In my own life I noticed that when I bring up something bad from my past, people often tell me it is not an excuse. Many don't seem to distinguish between an excuse and an explanation. This attitude is annoying for people who have no intention of making excuses, people who only want to verbally express their struggles.

Dan used PTSD's love for her husband as a weapon to make her feel guilty about her behavior, intentionally trying to shame her into thinking she is not loving enough. I guess this guilt worship is the sort of behavior you learn growing up Catholic. Normally, I would not complain about this sort of attack, because over the top anger is part of what makes the column so entertaining... but PTSD is a victim. Victimhood is not an excuse for bad behavior, but I think it makes sense to avoid throwing more suffering on top of the truckload of suffering PTSD already experienced.

I think Dan Savage and his readers have biases just like everybody else. I think one of those biases is, the tendency to assume that anybody withholding sex is at fault. This assumption is a reaction against society's assumption that all lack of sex is the fault of the party who wants sex (usually the man).
Posted by TheLastComment on September 18, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
@66 The psychological mechanism responsible for victim blaming is called the just world hypothesis. Wikipedia has an article on the just world hypothesis, Disney has a ton of movies expressing this sentiment.

What the just world hypothesis means is, people assume the world is just, and things that happen deserve to have happened. If somebody is rich and successful, people give them the benefit of the doubt, even if they are an enormous cock. "Well, they must be doing something right!" If somebody is downtrodden and attacked, people assume it is their own fault for being in this situation.

When the just world hypothesis is questioned, it makes many people feel insecure. They feel like maybe they do not have as much control over their lives as they previously assumed. Maybe life is random and suffering cannot be avoided. They react to this fear by constructing a delusion of control... for example, pretending an assaulted woman had control over whether she was assaulted or not.

I think the cure of this very common and very flawed way of thinking is a more scientific mindset. People need to accept that they do not always know why bad things happen, and learn to distrust their ingrained desire to blame people.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 18, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this
I remember that letter, and I thought the advice was shit.
Raped and don't want to have sex with your husband? I can understand why.
When I was raped, I really couldn't deal with my EX-boyfriends guilt trips, his questioning whether it was rape, why didn't I fight back harder, his tears, his sadness, his angry accusations, his anger and crying apologies and having to process his feelings about my rape and how he couldn't stop thinking about me "being with someone else", and blah de fucking blah de blah.
I didn't have time for his feelings, I had my own to deal with. Feelings of not being a human anymore, just some dumb raped woman. Feeling like I had no legal recourse to being raped, like I just found out I have a "free rape" sign stuck to me at all times. All the guilt for my rapeyness causing my *nice* boyfriend so much pain.
And-he's a nice guy, my ex, not a monster, just typical. His property (me) got raped, it's an insult to him and an outrage against him. Want to humiliate a man and show he is nothing? Rape his woman. Old-time tactic, biblical even. Not that he would ever admit this is how he felt, but it was how he acted and I think this is a very typical, common reaction.
If I had been in a poly relationship at the time, like the letter writer and had a husband and a boyfriend, I would have been fucking my boyfriend, not my husband. It's easier to fuck friends than husbands after your raped, it just is. A friend is there for you and doesn't have same sense of ownership as a husband does. Maybe that's fucked up, but rape is real fucked up.
Posted by sick of men's opinions on how raped women should act. on September 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
@69 Your ex is not a typical nice guy. You could describe him as a typical misogynist pretending to be a nice guy, however.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 18, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Bonefish 71
#34 FTW.

Also, a lot of people respond to rape in self-destructive ways, and one common form of such self-punishment is to destroy your relationships with those important to you. This isn't always done consciously. When this happens, people who genuinely want to help someone recover will call them out on it. Otherwise, pretending that this person can do no wrong because they're a rape victim is a great way to ensure that their suffering extends into even more areas of life. Anyone willing to risk this so that they can LOOK like a more sympathetic person is worthless to a rape survivor.

Sympathy is extremely important to recovery, but that doesn't make it the only important factor; not by a longshot.
Posted by Bonefish on September 18, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
I think his reaction was typical. It wasn't nice, just typical. Men don't react well when their partners get raped. In talking to other women who were in relationships when they got raped, my experience wasn't unusual.
I referred to my ex as a nice guy as he is. He doesn't talk shit about women, works well with women, his exes (including me) like him, he's a rare guy who can be friends with a woman. My point was even nice guys can handle their partner's rape very badly.
But rape fucks peoples heads up, not just the heads of the rapee, but also heads of their partners, friends and families. The emotional aftermath isn't logical or reasonable. People aren't reasonable or rational, we're emotional. His behavior wasn't great, it was selfish, irrational and absolutely typical.
What wasn't typical is that after we broke up, he owned up to what a shit he'd been, how wrong he was and apologized. For that, I still count him as a friend and a nice guy, a nice guy who really fucked up.
I like with your post about victim blaming being a result of a Just World Hypothesis. I don't think the world is just, but I do think there is ample evidence that is is misogynist.
Posted by forgot what my last display name was on September 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
Bonefish 73
67: I admit Dan could've been more gentle with his advice, though I don't read it as an accusation that she doesn't love her husband so much as a guilt-inducing way to tell her that she's being hurtful. And yeah, that is very Catholic of him. I still don't think that lends any credibility to Lauren's claim that Dan isn't taking sex crimes seriously or that he's doubting/blaming/shaming victims. Maybe he felt like he needed to exaggerate how shitty she was being so that she would realize that, despite her unfortunate reasons, she is being shitty. Not the way I would've done it, but I wouldn't accuse him of re-traumatizing her either.

69: You're projecting. Your ex sounds like a giant asshole, but this isn't somehow evidence that the LW's husband is also a giant asshole and her boyfriend isn't. Husbands aren't bigger assholes than boyfriends as a rule; assholes simply vary on a case-by-case basis. Husbands are nothing more than permanent(ish) boyfriends, after all.
Posted by Bonefish on September 18, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
@73 I'm not projecting. My point was, my ex handled my raped real bad and in talking with other women who were in relationships when they got raped, my experience wasn't at all unusual.
No, we don't know how the letter writer's husband is acting, but my experience wasn't unusual and I can understand why someone would seek as less intimate, less emotionally loaded partner for sex after a rape.
Posted by some display name on September 18, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
@73 I'm not trying to lend credibility to Lauren's claim. She's absolutely wrong. Looks like we more or less agree about the PTSD letter.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 18, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
I think Lauren is a survivor of sexual assault herself (probably recently), and as such just like PTSD, she goes off on a binge of irrationality every time she sees something even vaguely similar to a red flag. Like a pink tie or a puce network cable.

And just like PTSD, she really needs to get her ass into therapy so that she can a) recover from her assault and b) stop going crazy at every turn.
Posted by gromm on September 18, 2012 at 1:06 PM · Report this
@12: "If her point was "you shouldn't have called her a selfish shit because she obviously was traumatized and needed counseling", okay, fine, that's a conversation that could be had."

True, it is a conversation. Personally, I think that it's entirely possible for someone to be traumatized and need counseling, and still get called on what amounts to abusive, bullshit behavior, even if that behavior is in response to the trauma. I don't think Dan needed to "pull that punch."
Posted by avast2006 on September 18, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Lauren was being a complete asshole when she totally
distorted the contents of the original letter.

If she had said ... "the rape victim who had gone
cold on her husband but was still running hot with
a lover" that would have been an accurate representation.

I can see how rape victim might need to take her anger out on a male, and how she would want to keep a positive expression of her sexuality also. It's unlikely that she could reverse the roles (... torture the lover by withholding sex & keep the connection with the husband ...) because the lover,
not caring as much, would probably just bolt. The fact that her connection with the lover increases the torture for her husband is probably a plus for the side of her that needs this.

Having been victimized, she becomes a victimizer -
of one who really cares because he is the only one
who will hang around for it.

This is not OK.
It's harmful to her and to all those around her.

Dan was too soft on her if anything.

I hope she got some therapy that worked.
If not, I'm sure she got a divorce.
Posted by Robby on September 18, 2012 at 3:54 PM · Report this
@63: "Do you love your husband? Is your marriage a priority? Then start acting like it" This goes beyond simply being blunt. He is accusing her of lying about loving her husband. "

I don't read it that way. I read it as, "You claim to love your husband but your actions are violently at odds with that claim. Time to bring your actions in alignment with your sentiments," does not mean you are lying about feeling those sentiments. "Then start acting like it" is not the same as "Then stop lying about it." It means exactly what it says.
Posted by avast2006 on September 18, 2012 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Its so funny that when someone is psychologically hurt, we expect them to still function relatively well. But we don't have the same expectations when someone is physically hurt. Let's say that someone got a head concussion and recovered slowly and made bad decisions and had poor behavior for six months. We wouldn't blame the victim because everyone understands that their brain is healing. There brain isn't all there. I actually think that severe emotional trauma ends up doing similar things to the brain - at least is feels like it. For awhile, your brain doesn't work anymore, at least not the way it used to. But no one ever has the same sympathy for people of emotional damage compared to those who suffer physical damage. Some how emotional damage is "less". We expect that people are still logical and that their emotions still work in a reasonable way. But I don't think that is a reality.

Dan really distinguished himself from a professional therapist in this column. A professional would understand that the road to helping this woman did not involve ever talking to her like that. Also, a professional probably had to go back in and undo what he did (along with what the rapist and a lot of victim blamers also did). Because Dan has such a powerful, popular voice, and minions to agree with him, he had more power to hurt this person, which he did. He wasn't prepared or educated enough to answer this letter, and he should have sat this round out.
Posted by tinkerbell9 on September 18, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
I give Dan credit for not verbally tearing into Lauren. She lied in order to get his attention, so she should be all "this one time I don't think you were right." You know what? I don't think Dan is right 100 percent of the time either, but I don't require that he answer to my personal views. He is an advice columnist and I am an adult. We can disagree and get on with our lives. The fact that she made such a reprehensible claim for no other reason than "well, now that I have your attention..." proves a deep and dark character flaw. I hope she seeks counseling because it appears that she truly needs it.
Posted by MarquisDesMoines on September 18, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
Mango_Kitten 82
Laurens are another reason I'm thankful to be a fag.
Posted by Mango_Kitten on September 18, 2012 at 6:21 PM · Report this
@80: If your hypothetical concussion victim had been lashing out at everyone he knew, and hurting the ones he loved, and this was out of character, and he hadn't sought any sort of professional diagnosis for five months running, I think people in his life might indeed start telling him to get his ass in to the doctor for a PET scan, because he has been behaving like such a total shit to everyone around him that they suspect brain damage.
Posted by avast2006 on September 18, 2012 at 7:07 PM · Report this
I agree with avast2006 #80. The thing is that other people do not exist to be punching bags for those with issues. Yes they need compassion but Dan was right, trauma is not a 'get out of being an asshole free' card.
Posted by msanonymous on September 18, 2012 at 8:58 PM · Report this
@69:"he's a nice guy, my ex, not a monster, just typical. His property"

Sounds like you were broken well before your assault.
Posted by jfc, yo on September 18, 2012 at 9:05 PM · Report this
@57 References, please?
Posted by diner mo on September 19, 2012 at 2:54 AM · Report this


One of your most Ardent FanBoys

(Bob. In Baltimore....)

claims to have found a secret recording of you from 2006

in which you endorse legalizing Polygamy.

He has even posted a transcript
(on Slog, for crying out loud.
Punked on your on blog!
damn- the internets are a jungle....)

"I have the same reaction to legalizing marriage for gays as I do for polygamists. What’s the big deal? Legalize it. It’s kind of like arguing against giving women the vote because then women will want to enter the work force. (Horrors!)"-Dan Savage

Please clarify.....

(we call this to your attention because we are sure you want to get out in front of this budding scandal early...)
Posted by Enquiring Minds on September 19, 2012 at 9:36 AM · Report this
I think it was absolutely okay to call her a shit. (For some reason, it's better than calling her a piece of shit--but that's semantics and clearly I have ADD.) When people are traumatized, I don't think it helps to walk on eggshells around them. By addressing her shittery honestly, Dan showed her respect--treated her like a normal human being instead of a train wreck like everyone else probably is. If I were her, I would be comforted by that.

It's a shame that Lauren was rewarded for her trollery. She sucks.
Posted by portland scribe on September 19, 2012 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Lauren reminds me of the people in college who pick up various social justice causes - but you can tell they're more into having a cause than the cause itself. No humility, way too much pride and frequent patting on the back of their friends within the social circle. I'm sure that the idea that Dan had told a "rape victim that they might be lying" came from some other hysterical feminist-partisan in her circle. Probably someone talking a little shit and then it got out of hand.

Lauren seems like the type of person who; on one hand, severely degrades the spirit of justice and integrity but; on the other hand, could be easily cured with a swift punch in the face and then be told to repent their sins and live cleanly from here forward.
Posted by fetish on September 20, 2012 at 9:08 PM · Report this
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Posted by karenschmuki on September 22, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Report this
wow. I dunno guys, Lauren totally sucks&her actions are detrimental to her supposed cause...but, much as I love Dan, I do think he overstepped in taking the route of taking PTSD to task rather than, say, just letting her know she was confusing the fuck out of her poor husband and recommending she delve into *SPECIFICALLY WHY* the husband's touch was repulsive while the boyfriend's was healing. seriously, whatever's behind that, it matters, and he did pretty much invalidate the fact that both things were very big&very real for her, and that she needs to get to the bottom of it. so he did kinda downplay a major part of what was an enormous factor in her recovery-namely, her own agency in deciding when&with whom to have sex - and his jumping to conclusions about ulterior motives was unnecessary, unhelpful, and did carry some element of trivializing and/or doubting her experience. kinda creepy too, I agree, those pesky catholic undercurrents: to shame her like if she needs sex now she is obligated to have it with her husband. and don't get me wrong, I feel awful for both PTSD *AND* her husband-his needs definitely matter too. but the messages many of us are socialized with - that male sexual needs trump those of females; that husbands have a "right" to their wives' bodies, regardless of what their wives' bodies are going through - plays into the classic dynamic of sexual assault in the first place. of all these comments I think #69's made the most sense.
Posted by anneathema on January 20, 2013 at 1:51 AM · Report this

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