On Tuesday, television talk show host Dr. Phil posted on Twitter a controversial question asking his followers their thoughts on women’s ability to give consent while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The tweet, which has since been taken down from Dr. Phil’s account, stated:
The tweet received hundreds of replies from angry Twitter followers questioning Dr. Phil’s credentials and accusing him of blaming the victim of sexual assault rather than the perpetrator. A campaign has since been created on Change.org demanding Dr. Phil publicly apologize for his comment. The founder of the petition Carmen Rios, a former college sexual assault activist, wrote:
“The key to ending the plague of rape and sexual assault in this country is educating young people about the difference between consensual sex and rape and having Dr. Phil approach that topic on national television would be a huge step forward. Unfortunately, the use of the hashtag #teensaccused implies that the story around the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the United States, from Steubenville to Notre Dame, should be centered around the young men who raped as “victims” rather than the other way around. It’s the opposite. Survivors of rape deserve, and our nation needs them to have, a national platform like the Dr. Phil Show in which to discuss their experiences. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be his plan.”
As defined by the Campus Assault Resources and Education Office at UC Irvine, consent is “positive cooperation involving an act of free will, absent of coercion, intimidation, force, or the threat of force. A person cannot give effective consent if he/she is unable to appreciate the nature of the sexual act – as with a person who has a disability that would impair understanding of the act or if a person is impaired by the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
Dr. Phil has yet to to make any further comments defending or apologizing for his tweet, and in the wake of his silence, Twitter users continue to discuss the need for better education surrounding consent and alcohol.
See how social media is creating conversations around sexual violence awareness: