In this week's Savage Love, a young woman wrote Dan asking for advice on a very unfortunate situation—she was date raped by an ex-boyfriend.
There are over 100 comments on the thread, many of them supporting the young woman, but there's one comment that... isn't so much.
"She was kind of asking for it though wasn't she?"
When I first read that comment, I rolled my eyes and thought it was mean, but flippant—I figured everyone would just ignore it. That's the best way to deal with a troll, after all. Just ignore them.
I was so wrong. This specific comment has been reported as "abuse" dozens and dozens and dozens of times since being posted less than 24 hours ago. I've never seen a comment get reported as abuse as much as this comment has been. The e-mails just keep coming, and coming.
People are asking that it be taken down because:
"The poster is stating that a young woman who was raped deserved it. I find this comment false, offensive, and misogynistic."
"is it ever okay to say a woman is asking to be raped?"
"The letter writer does not need this crap and could suffer damage from it."
"The comment is advocating rape and victim-blaming."
"offensive comment that implies woman should be raped"
"saying a woman who was raped as 'asking for it' is one of the crown jewels of misogyny and I am horrified that made it past your filters."
"Obvious trolling in a thread about rape."
But, well, here's the thing: there's obvious trolling all over the internet—it's part of the commenting community, for better or worse. No topic is safe, not even rape. And the letter writer, as nice as she may be, anonymously wrote a letter to a public forum looking for advice, therefore opening her situation up for discussion among everyone. Even the heartless trolls.
And while I will whole-heartedly agree that the comment is mean-spirited, it is not saying that all rape victims deserve it or that this particular woman "got what she deserved." It's not advocating rape either. It's just someone being a jerk. And no more a jerk than so many other people have been so many times before, actually.
So for now the comment stays. But I can't help but wonder, as the abuse reports continue to flow, are readers being a little too sensitive? Or am I being too dismissive?