Dr. Phil: Drunk sex tweet was for "a very serious show topic"

The talk show host responds to backlash after he posted a tweet asking if it's OK to have sex with a drunk girl

By Prachi Gupta
Published August 21, 2013 5:40PM (EDT)
  (<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-50653p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">CarlaVanWagoner</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>)
(CarlaVanWagoner / Shutterstock.com)

Dr. Phil, America's avuncular therapist, has responded to the outcry he's facing after he posted and deleted a tweet in which he asked, "if a girl is drunk, is it okay to have sex with her? Reply yes or no. #teensaccused"

A spokesperson for Dr. Phil's show told TheWrap that "This Tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic."

"It was not intended to be taken lightly," the spokesperson explained.

As TheWrap notes, Dr. Phil frequently uses Twitter to ask followers to send feedback for segments -- though he doesn't specify this in the above tweet:

[embedtweet id ="369543926538969088"]

[embedtweet id ="367711485784375297"]

The major problem with the drunk sex tweet, however, is that it completely ignores the idea of consent, as if sex is something done to a girl by a boy who wants it. It comes off as glib and dismissive, asking for only a "yes" or "no" response to a nuanced question that's highly suggestive of rape given the context of a woman who was recently slut-shamed, the Steubenville rape case and the popularity of the kinda-rapey "Blurred Lines" song.

A clearer question for Dr. Phil's fans would have been something along the lines of: "can drunk sex ever be consensual sex? Working on a segment. Tell us what you think," a question actually worthy of debate. Instead, the framing of his poorly worded tweet reinforces an attitude that's already so pervasive in our culture: that there's an opening for a debate on whether there's a gray area in rape. To be clear, there isn't. "No" means "no" -- period.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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Dr. Phil Drunk Sex Rape Twitter