Savage Love Commenters Don't Know Assault When They See It

In his newest column, Dan Savage gets it mostly right in his response to DREAD, who was raped by her ex-boyfriend. Some commenters on his site, however, get it oh-so-wrong.

Here's DREAD's situation: She stepped outside of a party for a moment with her ex-boyfriend. He pushed her against a car, began making out with her, tried to take her pants off, and pulled his dick out. She pushed him away, said "no," and "I can't," but he persisted. She says, "I was afraid of a confrontation because he and I have been friendly since we broke up. I eventually discontinued my attempts to pull my pants back up because I figured the easiest way to get out of this situation was to let him finish."

Now her current boyfriend "is angry because he thinks I had a part in it." Dan tells DREAD that she was raped, and that if her current bf can't understand that then he's no good for her. Decent advice. Most of the commenters agree — although, unlike Dan, they suggest that DREAD go to the cops. Then there's charmer Psilly Cybin, who writes,

If I were the current boyfriend I'd probably react the same way...what, do you let anyone fuck you because they want to? So, anyone who you've ever slept with in the past can just claim you whenever they want? I suggest that the current Boyfriend move on and find someone who is faithful.

Commenter been there echoes Psilly, saying "She wasn't raped. [...] she made a choice - she DECIDED that the way she wanted to resolve the situation was to go along with him." And Can't Rape the Willing chimes in with "Just like DREAD, whenever I want to avoid causing a "confrontation" (esp with friends), I lie on my back, spread my legs, protest gently (optional), and let them do me..."

Of course, it's no surprise that assholes exist on the Internet, or that DREAD's situation generated some argument. But it's an instructive example of what advice columns have become in the age of commenting. They're no longer Dear-Abby-style exchanges between distraught people and agony aunts. They're public forums where anyone and everyone can engage in moral judgment, bickering, posturing — and victim-shaming.

That's Rape [The Stranger]