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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Dear Kelly, You're Wrong

I was going to continue posting about the Saga International Balloon Fiesta, but this whole "Dear Kelly" thing happened yesterday and though it isn't directly related to studying in Japan, I wanted to talk about it.

To sum up the matter: a girl got raped and the advice columnist blamed her for it. 

There is so much wrong with this that I can't even begin to fathom how it managed to make it into print. And I don't know if I'm so angry that this post will be very long or so angry that this post will be very short.

The horrible, awful, victim-blaming advice

For a detailed post on what the post actually said, please read SaraxJanelle's Dayre post. If you don't want to click over, here is the summary:

The letter writer headed over her boyfriend/date's house after a nice day. He gave her wine (for the first time) and she got drunk. Then the guy started undressing her and because she was drunk, she did not give consent. She didn't remember anything after getting undressed and woke up in bed with him the next morning.

Just from this, it's clear she's been raped because SHE DID NOT GIVE CONSENT. Lack of consent =/= consent. She wasn't even conscious for most of it!

And what did Kelly say?
"You gave every indication you were a willing player in his unfolding seduction plan."
"I don't blame him for thinking you were not a virgin. You acted like a girl who has been around" (this was written in special, red font)
"You can be grateful that he wore a condom."
Oh gee. Be grateful to the rapist because he wore a condom. Wow.

Not once is the letter writer given advice along the vein of "it's not your fault" or "go to the polcie and make a report."

Instead, it's "why are you so stupid" and "it's not the guy's fault".  One might think it's the poor boy's fault for having raped her because the girl didn't do enough to resist. Really victim blaming at its finest.

Ladies, please remember that you have the right to give and withdraw consent at any time you please. Do not ever feel pressured that because you agreed to something, you have to agree to go all the way.

Gentleman, respect the ladies. If you're not sure if she wants to do whatever it is you want, ASK HER. If she says no, or if she isn't in the state to reply, THEN STOP AND BRING HER HOME. Bringing someone on a date doesn't mean that she owes you something.

Kelly's 'Apology'

Luckily, the matter blew up and the magazine was forced to respond. But it seems like they're responding for the sake of responding because look at Kelly's "apology" (link leads to Teenage's website):

All screenshots from the post I just linked to

Look at the fourth word of the sentence: "IF". Kelly isn't apologising FOR victim blaming, she is apologising "IF" we think she did it. Plus, she mentioned harsh first, and victim blaming almost as an afterthought.

Subtext: "I did nothing wrong but since you think I did, here's an apology".

Conclusion: The first paragraph is a non-apology.

The rest of the post is just her trying to explain her actions. Kelly never takes responsibility for what she wrote, there's always a 'fantastic' explanation for why she wrote something (and by implication, aren't we all gooses for interpreting her tough love in the wrong way?). And of course, no one can care more about this girl than Kelly, as she tells us in the 8th paragraph (but before that, she would like to stress that she never did any victim blaming - 3rd Paragraph)

There is not one expression of remorse or admission of guilt in this response. In fact, she doesn't even seem to realise that the girl was raped (even though it was in the title of the original post), because she says "I believe what hurt most was his casual dismissal of her". No, what hurt most was the fact that SHE WAS RAPED.

Look at the last paragraph. Kelly is only sorry that her advice resulted in a 'negative response'. She isn't sorry for practicing victim blaming, and in fact, she still doesn't believe she did anything wrong ("if my response upset readers" = you shouldn't be upset by my response).

In short, this entire post is a non-apology. Kelly does not accept responsibility and I wouldn't be surprised if she issues similar advice in the future.

Teengage Magazine, if you happen to come across this post, then I just want to tell you: Kelly needs to go. Immediately. Your magazine is a fixture (or was, at the very least) for teenagers in Singapore, and the last thing they need is to have someone who's advice they trust teach them that if they get sexually assaulted they are the ones to blame. You need to replace Kelly with someone who actually knows how to counsel teenagers.

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