Dr. Phil's 'rape tweet' was ill-conceived, not pro-sexual assault

The differing definitions of drunk

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As you probably know by now, Dr. Phil is in the middle of an internet shit storm over a tweet he — or most likely, one of his staffers — composed. It read, "If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teenaccussed." 

Dr. Phil has since deleted the tweet, but the outrage rages on, with the Huffington Post, Salon, and others ripping into the Texas snake-oil self-help guru. In their eyes, Dr. Phil's tweet advocated rape. They're wrong. (Salon ran the headline,"The Vile Rape Tweet Dr. Phil Deleted" while HuffPo went with the slight tamer, "Dr. Phil Posts Sexual Assault Tweet.")

See, Dr. Phil wasn't defending "rape culture." Far from it. By posing the question that he did, he was actually advocating the position of many of many anti-rape culture warriors: No means no, and no girl who is legally intoxicated is saying yes even when she is saying yes.

Of course, to actually take this position, you have to ignore the consensual sexual behavior or many adults — who doesn't like to get a little buzzed and fool around? — and the speed at which alcohol affects women compared to men — three drinks will put most women over the legal limits. Which brings us to the real point.

What's really being discussed here is the differing perceptions of what is legally drunk and what is, you know, drunk drunk. For all intents and purposes, an individual is legally drunk when they have a blood alcohol level of 0.08. However, technically, they are drunk before then. Now, we have cutesy terms for it — things like tipsy or buzzed or inebriated — but the point is the same: you're feeling a little bit of all right.

I would hazard to guess that many of Dr. Phil's critics on this matter perceive drunkenness quite different. For them, being drunk means being fall-down drunk, ralph-in-the-street drunk, piss-your-pants drunk, black-the-fuck-out drunk. Of course, no one but the most vile Steubenville savage will say that it's OK to have sex with someone in that particularly state of drunkenness. And quite honestly, I don't think Dr. Phil was asking if that kind of behavior was acceptable when he posted his question.



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