A tweet by Dr. Phil has resulted in a lot of grief for the TV host. It is simple and asks: "If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil."
It was removed from Dr. Phil's Twitter feed quickly, but the controversy is obviously going to continue for awhile. A badly-worded question? Perhaps.
Rehtaeh Parsons' mother Leah is in California and will be appearing on the Dr. Phil Show this week. It is possible, and very likely, the question was asked in that context -- sexual assault and teenage drinking. That would make sense.
I have yet to read anything supportive so I may very well be going out on a limb here. I want to give you the perspective of a father whose daughter was gang-raped while she was intoxicated. Through my eyes, that question isn't really offensive at all. What offends me is the simple fact that in Rehtaeh's case, the answer to the question was, and remains, a sickening "yes."
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, you can have sex with a "drunk" girl, even if she has to be carried around the house and is violently sick. You can tell hundreds of people you did it and share a photograph of it happening and no sexual assault charges will be laid against you. You can even write a long confession and send it to the girl's mother and not only will no charges be laid against you but the police won't bother to ask you a single question. They could investigate it for a year and not once shadow your doorstep.
I'm a little more offended by that than the Dr. Phil question, thank you very much.
The police, of course, will disagree. They will say we need to look at the "totality" of the evidence and take everything into account but given the lack of evidence gathered from the side of Rehtaeh's four alleged rapists that could only mean one thing. They want to focus on Rehtaeh while defending their actions the same way they focused on her while investigating a complaint of sexual assault.
The police investigated a confused, frightened, 15-year-old girl who was just gang-raped and had a photograph of it shared all over her school along with a slut story. Rehtaeh was devastated as anyone could imagine, but in the eyes of the police devastated means confused, and confused rape victims will never get a day in court. So why bother investigating what she said at all? I doubt you'll find a more clear-cut case of victim blaming than this.
So thank you Dr. Phil. That question needed to be asked, and, sadly, in Nova Scotia, it needs a better answer.
I truly hope, for our daughters sake, we get one soon.