Yesterday, noted mustache aficionado Dr. Phil posed the following question on Twitter: “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused.” Oh, Dr. Phil. What kind of crazy information did you have on Oprah to force her to unleash your stupidity on the entire world?
There was, of course, quite a bit of a twitter outcry, with people like Rob Delaney responding: “Aren’t you married? RT @DrPhil: If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her?” or Louis Pietzman pointing out: “This isn’t a yes or no question, you sociopath. RT @DrPhil If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her?” And so eventually the overwhelmingly negative response led Dr. Phil, or his people (because he is a man who has people), to remove the tweet and issuing a statement: “This tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic. It was not intended to be taken lightly. It’s based upon a recent news story, hence the #teensaccused label.”
So problem solved, right? The tweet is down and we now have total confirmation of the fact that Dr. Phil lacks all nuance and sensitivity on the topic of issues as serious as giving consent and, you know, rape. The fact that Dr. Phil is comfortable broaching something this serious on Twitter betrays his inclination toward reducing important issues to soundbites and is just an indication of how dangerous these kinds of superficial conversations on important topics are. Because, actually, the question of whether or not it’s ok to have sex with someone else when that person is intoxicated is an important one, but it is one that will only ever be trivialized by being reduced to 140 characters. Believe it or not, Twitter is not the perfect format for untangling massively complex issues with important implications about gender, consent, and many other things.
Just for the future, Dr. Phil? Crowdsource things with real yes or no answers. Things like “Is it ok to have sex with a UTI?” Because that is information that every woman needs to have.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen