Kelly Chopard writes her “Dear Kelly” advice column for a teen magazine in Singapore called Teenage. In the November issue, her advice for a girl who said she was raped was more of a conclusion: “You acted like a girl who has been around.”
CNN reports that the anonymous girl who wrote to Chopard said she went to have dinner with a male friend at his house when his folks were out of town. She drank until she was unable to resist the man’s advances, and he began “cuddling and kissing and undressing me.” She blacked out and woke up the next morning in bed with him. He then said to her, “Wow! I didn’t know you were a virgin, honey!”
Chopard’s response castigated the writer for being “naive,” saying, “You are expected to know what happens when a girl agrees to stay over at a guy’s house when only the two of them are in residence.” She added, “You can be grateful that he wore a condom.”
A wave of criticism followed the column, and Chopard published an apology on November 11, but it’s as bad if not worse than those previous excerpts. She writes, in part:
Please believe me when I say I am profoundly sorry for teenagers who are vulnerable and often “naïve” as I stressed, more than once, in my response in this case. I stated, “Your total naivety led you to believe you were having a sleepover with a best buddy. I totally believe you had no idea that he had sex on his mind. It is most unfortunate for you”.
My response takes into consideration our many readers who seek direction so they will not find themselves in a similar situation. I have to adopt a particular tone so as to make sure the writer does not engage in such risky behaviour again, and this is also aimed at warning readers of the consequences they face should they engage in risky behaviour.
The words “sending the wrong signals” are sprinkled throughout the rest of her apology, and she finishes by mentioning that all her columns end with the warning, “Teenage DOES NOT condone pre-marital sex.” Hard to know where to begin with an advice column to teens that supports that philosophy in the first place.
The magazine published their own apology on Facebook before sharing Chopard’s, writing, “Kelly’s reply was largely focused on helping vulnerable girls understand the need to not place themselves in risky situations despite knowing the possible consequences. In no way does this mean that they deserve to be blamed. It simply means that they have to know how to protect themselves in a society where the definition of consent is still unclear to many.”
If only there were a place for teen girls to go to read about the definition of consent.