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#DadChat and Rape Culture

I talk to my kids about rape and rape culture. I have a son and a daughter and they both need to hear the same words and as they’ve grown older the discussion has evolved. Here is a sampling of things I’ve told my children from the moment they learned to speak written in order of age:

You don’t have to be polite to strangers.

No one can get you in trouble with Mom and Dad, not even [fill in the blank with every authority figure on earth].

You don’t have to let anyone touch you.

Even your hair.

You don’t have to hug anyone you don’t want to hug. Even me.

You can only touch people when they want you to touch them.

You don’t have to kiss anyone.

If someone doesn’t want to kiss you back don’t kiss them.

Sex must always be consensual. If someone is unsure, either someone, leave it for another day. Walk away.

When you go to parties don’t drink from any open containers. If you don’t crack open the bottle or can yourself don’t drink it.

Don’t put your drink down. If you do, get yourself a new drink.

Stay away from the stun gun (true story…)

Never have sex (digital, oral, anal or PIV) with anyone who has been drinking. Ever. 

See that last one? That’s going to keep my son out of hot water so we repeat it. A lot. But I understand parents having a fear that their sons will be falsely accused of rape. In fact it’s such a concern for some dads that they talk about it on #DadChat a lot.

DadChat Rape July 14

DadChat Rape July 17 14

DadChat Rape women responsible


Not to get all logical or anything but I think it’s worth noting that men are raped too.

The discussion didn’t end in 2014, last night Bruce Sallan tossed this golden nugget out there.

The internet went wild. It’s entirely possible that some of the mom bloggers really didn’t like Bruce much because even when he’s busy trying to get sponsors for #DadChat (good luck with that one now) he’s busy taking swipes at mom bloggers, diminishing their influence and trotting out some sketchy numbers.

Dads are important at home and online. Dad bloggers put out some pretty great content and it’s a nice Yang to the mom blogger’s Yin.

I would like to say that this was one unfortunate tweet and that it isn’t part of a pattern but I can’t do that. In 2013 Bruce writes:

We’ve been living through a very feminized time in human history. Women dominate our elementary schools and all our schools seem to favor girls/women in their curriculum and in so many other politically correct ways. Boys are failing at higher numbers than ever and more and more women are accepted to colleges while their male counterparts are often floundering. Plus, the work place is now fraught with HR rules. Men can literally be brought up on sexual harassment charges simply by the perception of a female co-worker saying something he did or even how he peered at a female co-worker was sexual harassment.

Heck, I’d be scared to work in any large environment today. Towards the end of my showbiz career, post Anita Hill, I stopped hiring female secretaries simply because I didn’t want to be walking on eggshells. [emphasis mine]

After last night’s twitter debacle Sallen posted an apology of sorts. Version two no longer includes something nasty about another blogger but it does include this:

I was called names I wouldn’t call my worst enemy. My sons found out. My wife found out. I request that you consider the sum of my life, my immediate apologies at the moment however inelegant they may have been, and this more considered one now. Let me again make my position explicitly clear: RAPE is a horrible crime and its victims must be protected and supported.

Please do not confuse political correctness with whatever it is that’s going on over here. Not hiring women because you’re afraid that they’ll send you to HR jail? Somehow by asking WTF on twitter Sallan’s wife and child are involved? You know what? If that’s what his family is being told at the dinner table it’s probably pretty important that the rest of the world chimes in and offers a different less felonious point of view.

To be clear. This is what an “immediate apology” looks like:

Sadly, you’ll see a bunch of women saying, “That’s okay, you’re a great dad.” Dude, no, you’re not.

These are great dads:

We do a pretty good job of talking to our daughters about what rape is. We teach them to stay safe (whatever that means…) but we really need to talk to our sons about consent and erring on the side of caution. We teach kids to wait 24 hours before sending an email they may regret, how about teaching them to wait a day to have sex? I promise, everyone who was genuinely interested will still be interested.


Updated to add a few more gems because it’s important to note that this isn’t a “one off”:

February 2015

Diversity is one of those words, like multiculturalism, that I truly dislike because they are so often used in politically correct and foolish ways. For me, it’s like saying, “gender” instead of “sex,” when referring to a man or a woman. What was wrong with just saying “sex?” But, like all things PC, the politically correct segment of our society has horribly corrupted words. Rape now means any sex that a woman regrets afterward INSTEAD of the violent crime that it really is.

January 2015

Race hustler Al in “happier times” when he was perpetuating a LIE about a rape

March 2013

…the politically correct police have sheared so many words of their meaning. Rape is a heinous crime, but in many circles it is applied when a woman regrets having sex after the fact, such as in a college environment when a young woman gets drunk and/or high and finds herself the next morning in bed with a young man she regrets having slept with.

February 2013

Be CLEAR that I am not advocating that real rape – when a woman is involuntarily attacked or doped and sexually assaulted – isn’t a heinous crime. But, regret “after the fact” is not rape.

27 thoughts on “#DadChat and Rape Culture”

  1. The good news is that he doesn’t speak for all of us (or even some of us). I work in a “large environment” as he puts it, and I have NO fear of being brought up on a rape charge because I’m not in any situation where I could be mistaken for any wrongdoing. And, I still get to have positive interaction with women by – GASP – talking to them, asking them about their families and working alongside them as equals. No fear of being charged with anything. Bruce is out of control.

    1. There are some pretty awesome dad bloggers out there (we already know there are great dads out there – I married one) so we’ll be watching for you guys on twitter with some other hashtags.

  2. He’s been hiding his misogynistic tendencies behind the Dad flag for years. Considering how poorly he covers up his hatred of women, I’m shocked it’s taken him this long to appear on your site.

      1. I can’t find the post anymore and don’t remember if I ever got around to writing it. I do remember both men and women standing up for him at the time and telling me I was reading that wrong. Clearly he was just getting started.

  3. The #DadChat was shameful he doesn’t speak for us and many of us won’t participate in another DadChat we’ll find other venues to promote fatherhood and positive male role-modeling.

  4. I was on a panel with him a few years back and have stayed as far away from him as possible ever since. The way he treats women working at the sponsor booths at conferences is deplorable. Lots of embracing and sweetheart, and honey and pretty much anything else that conveys that she is simply a “cute girl in a booth” and nothing more. I’m regretting not saying anything then and just chalking it up to the fact that he was “old school Hollywood” but since this incident that I could not ignore, I have heard other stories that make what I saw pretty tame in comparison. Glad you did some digging and showed us his true colors. He is not what our community of dads represents.

  5. Louise Masin Sattler

    As a Psychologist who has worked with rape /domestic violence victims – I must say that I was speechless about what transpired on #DadChat – until now. Through my own experiences of working with victims (male and female), I can guarantee that rape is a crime and to speculate differently is shameful – nothing less. Singular events that are sensationalized in the press are unfortunate as they cast a level of “doubt” on all who are victims as to the legitimacy of their situation. However, whatever is written, tweeted or gossiped about in the coffee shops around the world cannot outdo the memories of the heinous act a rapist has cast upon his/her victim. Now that I work in social media and know many of those who are in your thread – I need to thank those who are responsible tweeters and hope that the others will accept this incident (s) as an enlightening educational moment

    1. As one off events a lot of people have said a lot of stupid things that they regret. This isn’t that situation. This is a pattern of anger that’s really dangerous for both men and women and some of the men who have commented on it are putting themselves on the line. It’s a brave and good thing to do.

  6. Just to add to the rest: The rage of all the dads I know in the group I am a part of was intense. That guy is not representative whatsoever of the overall effort to represent dads in a positive way.

    1. I don’t think anyone sees it that way and as an outsider the backlash was encouraging. I married a great man, I’m friends with many great men, y’all just let us know who you were a little faster this way.

  7. Thanks Jessica. Fortunately she is amazingly strong. Unfortunately we left a few things out of our discussion like what to do if it happens even if you aren’t sure what happened. She is trying to figure out how to make changes so women are safer and boys realize this isn’t right.

      1. Sorry, wrong link. But you have stated that you stand by her story – but it was clear that she was only stating the republican part of the story – which was a lie – and that she falsely accused someone who was not rapist.

          1. but you still support her work… her even though you think that her behavior in this area is abhorrent? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

            1. You do understand that this has slipped over the edge into ridiculousness.

              I have no idea what “lie” Lena Dunham told. You’re referencing something I have no knowledge of and I’m not particularly interested in arguing with an anonymous person on the internet.

    1. As a consummate outsider, I’m not considered a “dad blogger”. And I honestly get along better with woman, so I don’t have any interaction with this guy.

      This post showed me two things, though. First, his quote “real rape – when a woman is involuntarily attacked or doped and sexually assaulted” clearly shows he doesn’t know what “real rape” is. Most rapes don’t occur by the boogeyman in the bushes or the roofie-slipping scumbag. Not only does he clearly not respect women, he also has no idea what rape is so he shouldn’t be talking about it regardless of having a pretty crappy opinion.

      Second, I only follow one guy who would be considered a dad blogger, @BusyDad:disqus. He probably has no idea who I am, but he’s the only one I follow and have been following him for probably 5+ years. This just provides more evidence to support that which I already knew: Jim is a standup guy and deserving of all his adoration and success.

    2. Thank you for this Jessica. I had only participated in my first #dadchat a few weeks ago and then missed this one and thanks to what you exposed in this piece I will not be participating in any more of them. I responded to his tweet after the fact to condemn it, but didn’t know it was part of a pattern. He is absolutely not in any way representative of the dad community and as others have already referenced there is a lot of anger at him within the community over his comments.

    3. Hello, Ms. Gottlieb, I encountered this controversy only within the past 18 hours, when Bruce (whom I have known personally since childhood, and who has for decades been among my closest friends and a stand-up guy in every respect) told me about it during a telephone call. So I ask your indulgence as I comment on an incident that by now may be less in focus than it has been since the end of last week.

      I have read, read again and reflected on your comments and the responses to them other readers and social-media followers posted. I also read a number of your writings (from the tabs “About Me” and “Posts Y’all Liked”), in order to perhaps get a sense of who you are as a person, and some insight into your perspective on things. I discovered that you are smart, witty, articulate, spirited and worldly. I wish I could be any two of those on a given day!

      I applaud you for choosing, over the past 48 or more hours, to make public your strong reaction to Bruce’s tweet and follow-on communications, and to facilitate or coordinate discussion of same. Sexual assault is something to take seriously. My own position on the matter is consistent with your own. (Bruce and I have long disagreed on a number of social and political issues.) I agree, for example, with your observation that we must talk with boys and men “about consent and erring on the side of caution” in sexual behavior.

      I also respect the due diligence you completed in order to find a “paper trail” to support your assertion that Bruce has demonstrated a pattern of thinking and feeling beyond a specific tweet. I think on this specific matter, you and I disagree. I can find in his writings (I have read them all over the years, and almost always issue a comment) plenty of testimony to the joy he takes in the virtues of family life, the pride he has for his sons, the vulnerability he exhibits in revealing and working through paradoxes he encounters in his own opinions and feelings, and the actions he routinely takes to contribute to the repair of the world. I do not see him as a misogynist or racist. Since you and I are on the same page with respect to the central issues in this thread, I hope that our disagreement about how to interpret Bruce’s writings may be congenial.

      After digesting the communications issued by the various parties—primarily you and your readers and supporters, and Bruce’s—I had two further thoughts. First, I am distressed that the crime of rape would be trivialized by anyone.

      Second, I am troubled by the vitriol and I would say, in some cases, hatred heaped upon Bruce. At a certain point, in what you and some readers wrote, a bright line that separates addressing ideas and besmirching a person was not only crossed, but erased. It is one thing to dispute and rail against the ideas someone expresses. It is another thing to enter the territory of personal destruction.

      A comment attributed to Louise Masin Sattler seemed to well express the central issue at stake: “Singular events that are sensationalized in the press are unfortunate as they cast a level of ‘doubt’ on all who are victims as to the legitimacy of their situation. However, whatever is written, tweeted or gossiped about cannot outdo the memories of the heinous act a rapist has cast upon his or her victim.”

      I think that Ms. Sattler is right on the money: She has described a sociocultural landscape upon
      which violence, media (and therefore market capitalism), power relations, sex and gender twist into one another like weeds. In public communication commenting on one aspect or other of such space I want us to hold ourselves to higher standards of deportment than demonstrated in too many sections of this

      For example, Mr. Jim Lin—who seems to me (I visited his dadblog website) to have the same characteristics I admire in you—writes about “wanting to stay as far away from Bruce as possible ever since” serving on a conference panel with him, and that Bruce “treats women at the sponsor
      booths in a deplorable way…and I have heard other stories” about Bruce. I dislike this sort of personal attack because it prevents us from engaging in principled debate, discovery and instruction…and from imagining next steps that we, as participants in a discussion of these important matters, (let alone as members of a society generally) may take in order to eradicate what we agree are criminal acts and
      unconscionable choices.

      Similarly, I do not support dismissing Bruce’s apologies without providing him with a clear, cogent sense of what more he could say or write to convey his regret of and remorse for causing pain.

      I would consider it a favor—and in fact, a gift—if you would point out any deficiencies in the thinking that I have unpacked in what I have written here. I am not a regular or frequent user of social media platforms, but I will return to this webpage in a day or two, in order to read and digest any responses you would like to offer.

      To make myself less anonymous: I am a male, 62 yr. old, living in North Carolina, working in the education field, and for 20 yr. in the corporate world. I do not have kids. I think that my photo is attached to this post.

      1. Hey David,

        Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I’m sure that Bruce has been a good friend to you and I have more than one friend I disagree with, still respect and continue to enjoy but we all have topics that necessitate forks in the road.

        I am surrounded by teenagers. They are spreading their wings and starting to leave the house and as we select the leaders of our parenting communities I think it’s important that we give accolades to the folks who will provide the kids with the soft landings they will inevitably need.

        Sexual assault including rape in all it’s forms is a very real problem for young adults. (I’m just going to focus on teens right now since Bruce and I are both raising them)

        I met Bruce once at a movie screening. He introduced himself and told me something about having a billion impressions for his chat. By Bruce’s own words he is very influential with other parents.

        What kind of person would I be if I ignored someone very influential who pushes victims toward shame and silence and tells young men that rape as defined by the penal code is just a drunk girl’s regret? It’s not about Bruce being a bad person. I don’t need him to be seen as evil incarnate, we just need people to understand that he’s wrong.

        He’s wrong morally. He’s wrong legally. He’s the wrong man to listen to when you’re raising children and when you’re learning about sexuality and consent.

        Bruce is clearly bright and has masterful use of language and media. Bruce will be fine. I really have no idea what else Bruce does good or bad, but with this subject if Bruce does indeed have influence he touts his words have the potential to be very dangerous.

    4. Rape is rape, and it is awful and never the woman’s fault. However, I have known women who admitted to regretting a hook up, then called it rape to save face. I believe Bruce Sallan is speaking to that demographic, and I applaud him for that.

      1. Clearly he was referring to women who call sex they regret rape. No one is disputing that.

        But you think that demographic reads #DadChat?

        And then introspects?

        If 1 in 4 women in the United States (where Bruce lives) are sexually assaulted, he’s doing a disservice to all rape and attempted rape victims by suggesting that the number of women who claim to have been raped is statistically significant. It happens. But they’re outliers. Why question the intent of 24 out of 25 female rape victims (out of a room of 100 women) if 1 is being dishonest? (To be clear, there is no scientific consensus on the percentage of false rape allegations; you can’t prove a negative. But I suspect the number is under 2%.)

        To applaud Bruce for that is akin to applauding the KKK for speaking out against blacks because a minority of them are criminals.

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