I know that I am a little late to this one, but having just read Dan Savage’s advice to a rape survivor, I felt compelled to respond. Let me just set it up for you and then we can go over the evidence that Dan Savage is indeed the king of doucebaggery.
A woman has been in an open marriage for two years and was raped by a former lover. She found that she could not resume a sexual relationship with her husband because it triggered her. The relationship with her boyfriend changed for the better, in that the sex improved and she felt safe with him. This caused her husband to be upset and he demanded that she end her relationship with her boyfriend and focus on the marriage. Seems pretty simply right? Well it should be, unless of course your name is Dan Savage and you thrive on assholery.
Would you believe he thought the best route to deal with this woman was to shame her in an attempt to make her deny the little bodily autonomy she has recovered? I know — why did I expect any better from Dan Savage? For my own sanity I need to break this down.
I’m sorry that you were sexually assaulted—that’s awful, PTSD, and I hope you went to the police and I hope you’re pressing charges. But I also hope you know that being the victim of sexual assault is not a Get Out of Being a Human Being Free card.
Rape is one of the most dehumanizing things that can happen to someone, but somehow, not wanting to fuck her husband makes her inhuman. And how dare he suggest that she needs to press charges. After being violated in this way, the last thing you need is someone telling you what to do, let alone a misogynist asshole who has all the sensitivity and caring of a drive time shock jock. If a woman chooses not to press charges that is her right and how dare he sit in judgment of her decisions when the criminal justice system regularly puts rape survivors on trial rather than the rapists themselves.
Just because you’ve been victimized doesn’t mean you operate in an alternate moral universe where you’re not obligated to take other people’s feelings into consideration—particularly the feelings of people you profess to love and happen to be married to. Your first priority in the wake of your assault had to be your own physical and emotional safety, of course, but your behavior toward your husband is both cruel and selfish.If you truly loved your husband and valued your marriage, PTSD, you would’ve put the boyfriend on hold and gotten your ass into therapy without having to be told. It looks to me like you want out of this marriage. But instead of taking responsibility for wanting out, you’re playing the victim card while slamming both hands down on your marriage’s self-destruct button.
Did you know that it is cruel and selfish not to want to have sex with someone? The moment you get married ,your body belongs to your husband and you have no real right to deny him sex. Where is he supposed to go for pussy? Will the suffering of men never come to an end? She has further multiplied her sins by ignoring her ability to fix it all, if she would just take her ass to counseling. We will just forget that this whole thing is a process and that it takes time to work up the strength to directly confront a trauma like rape. Why is this all about her husbands needs and not her own, when she was the one that was assaulted? Why is she the one who has to prove her love, but her husband’s feelings are natural and right? Nope, no sexism there.
Obviously, there is something about her husband that she finds triggering. It is not uncommon for rape survivors to have difficulties articulating what they find upsetting or even why. What triggers a rape survivor can change from day to day and the way to really help is to give that person what they need. In her case, it obviously means space and understanding, but even at their most vulnerable times, women are expected to cater to men.
To make sure that this woman understands that her role is to put aside whatever conflict she is feeling, he ends by calling her a “total shit” Yep, you read that right — “a total shit”. It sort of gives a new spin to the words Savage Love doesn’t it? Reading Savage’s advice once again affirmed many of the negative attributes I believe to be true about Savage. He is not a liberal social justice fighter. He is simply a fat phobic, racist, disableist, transphobic, misogynist, that simply managed to garner a large readership When we consider that an immense part of mainstream media exists to reaffirm many of the negative isms that have become socialy normalized, I suppose one could say he is doing a good job.
Editors Note: I came across the Savage column at Shakesville, on a post written by Deeky, please check it out.