"Dear Abby" is taking some heat for her recent answer to a letter writer, which some saw as blaming the teen girl for her own rape. The letter writer, a high-school junior who was a virgin before the incident she wrote in about, says a classmate invited her over to study and they ended up making out. That led to sex. "It wasn't fun or pleasurable," the girl writes. "I told him he was hurting me, but he didn't stop until the third time I said it. He was very upset with me." Abby (real name Jeanne Phillips) tells the letter writer she was sexually assaulted because of a "breakdown in communication." She says the boy made his intentions clear about wanting to have sex, and he "may have interpreted your willingness to kiss him after he took you somewhere other than what was agreed upon as a signal that you were willing, even though you didn't say so."
A blogger at Jezebel says this response appears to blame the victim for her own sexual assault, something Raw Story notes women's rights activists have been trying to get people to stop doing for years. A "breakdown in communication" did not cause this assault, the boy "ignoring a person's humanity and agency" did, writes Heidi Stevens in the Chicago Tribune, arguing that the sex should have been over as soon as the letter writer told the boy he was hurting her. She calls Abby's response "lousy advice" that "sets up a disastrous dynamic about an act that should always, every single time, be utterly and completely mutual." Abby does go on to define date rape in her response to the girl, but she never says whether she thinks that's what did or didn't happen to the letter writer. (Read more Dear Abby stories.)