Tuesday, March 19, 2019

She Consents to Her Own Abuse

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, we read this. It’s a letter written to therapist Lori Gottlieb. The author is a college coed. She is concerned about a friend, another coed, who has engaged in a sado-masochistic relationship with a 50 year old professor. When he tortures her, hurts her and bruises her, he posts the evidence on his very own pornographic website. By the way, she met the professor when she started working as a nanny for him and his wife.

Keep in mind, we are living in the age of #MeToo. The coed in question believes that since she consents to be abused and trafficked on a porn site, there is no problem.

Of course, the coed has a therapist. Apparently, the therapist knows about the relationship. The therapist does not know about the age of the professor in question, but is that really the problem here?

So, the letter writer, who calls herself Zooey, writes to therapist Gottlieb to request guidance. As sometimes happens, Gottlieb is going to prescribe a heartfelt conversation, or some such. As an exercise in futility, I cannot think of a bigger waste of time.

Naturally, Gottlieb does not consider it, but doesn't a heartfelt conversation put Zooey at risk of being seduced into participating in these activities herself?

Anyway, this is a nightmare, so prepare yourself. Here are excerpts from Zooey’s testimony:

Over the summer, my friend started working as a nanny for the professor and his wife. After three days on the job, he told her that he "fell in love with her at first sight" and suggested that she was his soulmate. Since this confession, they've been dating and having sex. I was disgusted by this, but refrained from criticizing the relationship, since I thought it could lead to the end of our friendship and also figured the relationship would be short-lived given the age difference….

Unfortunately, the relationship is still going on and I think my friend is being abused. She has been hospitalized twice due to BDSM activities like choking, cutting, and flogging. The professor has also started posting nude pictures of her on his pornographic website. In all of the pictures, she has deep-purple bruises and lacerations.

I have no idea what I should do to help her. She cuts off communication with any friend who denounces the relationship, and claims that everything she does with the professor is consensual and that she isn't being manipulated or exploited. She truly thinks she's in love with the man and that they're destined to be together forever.

Now, as she continues, Zooey is going to hit upon a constructive idea. Why not tell her friend’s parents. Don’t they have a right to know? Aren’t they paying for college? Zooey thinks that this would be a betrayal of confidence. She does  not understand that choking and cutting people is dangerous, if not criminal. So, she keeps her silence. This makes her a co-conspirator, not a friend. It's her guilt that is keeping her quiet, not her loyalty. 

Since telling Mom and Dad makes sense, Gottlieb does not even consider it.

Zooey continues:

I've thought about telling her mother and father and staging an intervention, but I feel like that would be an unforgivable betrayal. I also worry that her conservative parents would stop paying her tuition and rent if they knew about the relationship.

Early on, I thought about telling the man's wife, but they have an open marriage and apparently the professor's wife doesn't object to her husband sleeping with my friend.

I told one of our university counselors about the relationship and he told me that since my friend isn't taking a class with this professor, he isn't violating the university's amorous-relationships policy.

Note also the attitude of the university counselor: he seems to believe that when consent is given anything goes when it comes to sex? Really? Does he approve of the fact that one of the university’s professors is running a porn site where he shares photos of injured coeds? Seriously, does anyone know the meaning of moral turpitude?

Zooey continues:

I don't know what I can do to get her to leave this relationship. I love her with all my heart and want to help her, but I honestly have no idea what course of action I should take. I'm praying that you'll answer this question, because I have no one I can talk to about this issue.

As noted, Gottlieb misses the point entirely. And she offers some dreadful advice. She starts with a Jungian reflection about keeping secrets. Notable anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer Jung has been having something of a revival lately. Allow me to call it unfortunate. A man who was promoting pagan idolatry and who rejected the foundations of Western civilization was garbage. His reputation should have stayed in the gutter. 

As for the notion that you should not keep secrets, if you cannot keep a secret, no one will confide in you.

Anyway, Gottlieb has jumped on the Jungian bandwagon:

Carl Jung called secrets “psychic poison,” and for good reason. Secrets are corrosive and go hand in hand with shame. And there seems to be a lot of secrecy around this. Your friend says that she doesn’t see a need to bring up the age difference with her therapist, because it’s a nonissue. But nonissues aren’t what we hide; it’s the issues we hide. I’m guessing that she rationalizes other aspects of her relationship as not worth bringing up with her therapist—and that these are the very ones they need to talk about.

Zooey and her friend have had multiple conversations. And yet, the therapist’s go-to advice is always to talk it out. Thankfully Susannah Breslin debunked that notion effectively—in my post on “Less Talk, More Action”—so we should have gotten over it. Gottlieb hasn’t, sadly:

You say you have nobody to talk to about this, but in fact, you do—starting with your friend herself. You can’t get somebody to leave a relationship, but you can show up in the relationship you have. Understandably, you care about your friend’s feelings, but there are two kinds of compassion. One is what’s known as “idiot compassion,” which is what we offer when our main concern is to avoid rocking the boat, even though the boat needs rocking, and which leads to your compassion being more harmful than your honesty would have been. Its opposite is “wise compassion,” which means caring about a person but also giving her a loving truth bomb when needed. In the strongest friendships, wise compassion is highly valued.

This is not about compassion or even empathy. It’s about complicity in what appears to be a crime.

For the record, Gottlieb gives Zooey some words to tell her frield. Nothing quite like putting words in someone’s mouth:

So you might try something like this:

I know you believe that you’re in love with him, but because of the intensity of your feelings, I don’t think you can see the situation clearly. You might end our friendship over what I’m about to say, but our friendship won’t survive anyway if I have to keep my true feelings from you. I want our friendship to be built on trust—that we’ll be honest with each other because we care about and respect each other, which means that we don’t always have to agree, but at least we’ll hear the other person out. And what I’ve been reluctant to tell you is that your relationship concerns me and I’m having trouble standing by and watching.

This sounds weak and pathetic to me. I suspect that the coed in question has heard this many, many times.

Gottlieb continues, in the same vein:

Explain that you’ve been trying to understand how she envisions a future with this man who calls her his soulmate—that it doesn’t seem as if he’s going to leave his wife and child to be with her exclusively, and so you wonder what being his soulmate means to her. Tell her that you don’t consider posting photos of a bruised and lacerated young college student on a pornographic website to be the way a person treats his soulmate.

This is sentimental slop. If Zooey wants to cease being a conspirator, why not bring the existence of the website to the attention of authorities. Perhaps to the campus newspaper, perhaps to the local newspaper, perhaps to the university administration. Yes, I understand that this too would be a betrayal—though Zooey might hide behind a mask of anonymity—but seriously, the professor’s behavior is grossly immoral, if not criminal. And surely, he ought to be relieved of his duties at the university.

Does anyone consider that choking is dangerous? That the woman's life is being put in danger.

Amazingly, Gottlieb refuses to believe that the coed’s therapist has countenanced this… on the grounds of not being judgmental, don’t you understand? So she suggests that Zooey go to a therapy session or write a letter to the therapist. This is a neat way of absolving the therapist of blame in this appalling situation:

One is to suggest that you accompany your friend to a therapy session. You can explain that you think it would help her most if the therapist heard another person’s perspective on what was going on, and that you’d feel comfortable knowing she and the therapist were talking about all the issues in this relationship, not just the ones your friend decided to share. If she refuses, you could tell her that you’d like to write a letter to the therapist with your observations. Of course, the therapist can’t respond to you, but she’ll most likely tell your friend that she received the letter and talk with her about its contents.

I suspect that the therapist is part of the problem, not the solution. Talking it over is also part of the problem. The only real solutions involve telling the girl’s parents, or alerting local authorities or exposing the situation in the campus newspaper.

In the age of #MeToo, anything goes sexually as long as you can seduce a woman into consenting to her own degradation. Put that one in your pipe and smoke it.

1 comment:

UbuMaccabee said...

Yeah, but you are forgetting that she's his soulmate. SOULMATE, for chrissakes. That's a pretty big deal. And what are the chances that the babysitter/nanny turns out to be the ONE, the soulmate? I bet 2/3 of Hollywood knows the answer to that one; that's why you get an old Guatemalan women to raise the kids.

As for BDSM, no dominant alpha would ever say that. Ever. Soulmate is not in the lexicon. He's a phony.