I often read the Ask Amy section in the Boston Herald, but I honestly don’t understand why anyone would take life-altering advice from a newspaper columnist. It is fine to Ask Amy about the proper etiquette concerning replying to wedding invitations or an appropriate wedding shower gift, but relationship advice shouldn’t be shared over a newspaper column. Relationships are complicated and a complete understanding of all the details should take place before administering such advice. I’m not saying that Amy isn’t qualified, but I don’t think it’s possible for her to give out proper advice without having a full understanding of each person’s relationship history. There is only so much that can be revealed in a small e-mail.
Nonetheless, I think the questions and answers are interesting. I don’t usually agree with her advice, but there was one recent column which disturbed me.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011:
Dear Amy: I am confused as to where the line is drawn between trying to please your partner and being rudely manipulated into giving in.
For example, recently my boyfriend and I were getting intimate. I wasn’t really into it and I told him I wasn’t in the mood. He said, “It’s OK—you don’t have to enjoy it.”
Am I right in believing that this is not an OK thing to say? I told him that saying that to me is unacceptable, but I gave in and did what he wanted.
I feel as if we mostly do things for him, but when I get the attention I had previously wanted I feel uncomfortable.
I would love to hear your thoughts—I’m a big fan.
Dear Worried: My thoughts are that your so-called boyfriend has sexually manipulated and coerced you into having sex after you said you didn’t want to. Evidently, he missed the “no means no” memo.
You should break off your relationship with this bully.
You should also consider calling the police. “I gave in and did what he wanted” doesn’t sound like consent to me. You can learn more by checking the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network’s website at rainn.org or by calling a counselor at the organization’s hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673).
Ponder the definition of “friendship.” True friends don’t coerce, manipulate or force their friends to act against their will.
You should hold the men in your life to the same standard you would expect from your closest friends and family members. In a healthy relationship, partners honor and elevate one another. Don’t engage in another sexual relationship until you understand what happened here and get some clarity on your reaction.
Clearly this person, we don’t know whether “Worried” is a male or female, has low self-esteem. Amy gave some great advice except for two points. I don’t agree with her statement, “You should break off your relationship with this bully.” Obviously the boyfriend is a bully and a manipulator, but breaking off the relationship seems reckless. Worried should discuss the matter with the “bully” and if there is no resolution, then the relationship should be ended. We have no idea whether or not the boyfriend has an understanding of the severity of his actions. Worried should end the relationship if, and only if, the boyfriend doesn’t agree to change the manipulating behavior. (Give the guy a chance!)
The dangerous advice is Amy’s suggestion for Worried to call the police. (Is she fucking crazy?) All of a sudden a guy using manipulation to get laid, is rape? When did that happen? Men have been attempting to manipulate women for centuries. I’m not saying it is right for a man to manipulate a woman into having sex, but Rape? That’s going way too far! No one deserves to be manipulated, but Worried needs to figure out the source of the low self-esteem and deal with that issue.
“I gave in and did what he wanted,” does sound like consent, to me. The fact that Worried doesn’t have the ability to stand up to the boyfriend and turn him down is completely separate from rape. I wonder if Amy would call the police if she had a son and he manipulated a woman into having sex. Ruining a guy’s life because he takes advantage of a partner who has low self-esteem is completely wrong. Yes, the guy is a jerk for manipulating worried, but he is not a rapist.
Worried has a lot of problems with her self-worth. She writes, “when I get the attention I had previously wanted I feel uncomfortable.” This sentence speaks volumes! Maybe the guy is clueless and he doesn’t know that his behavior is manipulative, or maybe he knows that worried will do whatever he wants and he loves controlling her. Either way, the guy is not a criminal; he is either a jerk or clueless! Honestly, the simple fact that Worried asked whether or not her boyfriend’s behavior crossed a line shows that there is a lot of growing yet to be done in Worried’s life.
Worried will most likely continue to enter into relationships in which the partner will be controlling and manipulative. It’s sad for Worried, but there is no rape taking place. Worried needs a caring friend, a loving mother, or a competent therapist! (There is definitely no need for the police!)
Rape is an extremely horrible act; let’s be careful how carelessly we throw the word around. There are people who suffer a great deal do to the inhumane behavior of others. Don’t diminish the trauma that rape victims must go through by suggesting that manipulation equals rape.
I could be wrong, but I highly doubt it!