‘Ask Amy’ Says Ask Your Rapist If He Raped You

Amanda Hess, a blogger for Washington City Paper, wrote a sharp deconstruction (11/30/09) of Chicago Tribune advice columnist Amy “Ask Amy” Dickinson’s victim-blaming response (11/27/09) to a woman who wanted to know whether she was a victim of rape:

Were you a victim? Yes.

First, you were a victim of your own awful judgment.

Hess points out Dickinson’s disparate treatment of victim and perpetrator:

You donâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t say whether the guy was also drunk. If so, his judgment was also impaired.

Or as Hess translates: “Your judgment was ‘awful’; your rapist’s judgment was merely ‘impaired.'”

The most stunning part of the advice column, though, was when Dickinson urged the letter-writer to give the man who raped her a call:

You must involve the guy in question in order to determine what happened and because he absolutely must take responsibility and face the consequences for his actions, just as you are prepared to do.

Hess responds to this “destructive, dangerous, and negligent” advice:

Obviously, rapists should not be consulted on questions of consent. As this column makes clear, we should all probably refrain from consulting Ask Amy as well.

UPDATE: Those interested in asking Amy Dickinson to retract the advice in her November 27 column can sign a petition that does so here.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.