Daily Telegraph advice columnist Lesley Garner is faced with a doozy of a conundrum this week, a situation so horrible that it could only possibly be made worse by . . . the recommendations of Daily Telegraph advice columnist Lesley Garner!
The situation: “Eva,” a married woman, is raped by her boss on a business trip. She becomes pregnant. She decides to get an abortion. Her husband is supportive of the abortion, but not of Eva—-“He drove me to a clinic for a consultation and waited outside in the car because he ‘didn’t want to hear me talk about conception dates,'” she writes. Eva later decides not to go through with the abortion. Her husband leaves her. She raises a beautiful baby boy on her own. Now, seven years later, she wants to reconnect with her ex. But there is a complication: “What happened on that trip wasn’t quite rape but I wasn’t exactly willing either. The man was my boss and he was very drunk and forceful. I tried to push him away without upsetting him, but he was too strong and I didn’t fight him.”
Now, if I were the advice columnist here, I know what I’d say: “your ex-husband is a dickwad.” But I’m not an advice columnist. Lesley Garner is. Her advice is of the “stop lying about getting raped and admit that it was selfish to not get an abortion” variety.
That’s right: Garner tells Eva that (a) she wasn’t actually raped; and that (b) any woman who refuses to abort her (made-up) rape baby is selfish for denying her husband’s feelings. Let’s start with the rape part:
Let’s look at the bit about telling the truth first. Your letter is full of confusion and chaos, and then I reached the end and saw that the story with which you began—-the story that you told your husband—-wasn’t even true. This was a shock to me, so you can bet it would be a very big shock to your husband.
The thing that strikes me most about your whole story is that you seem to have very little understanding of how your husband might feel. It is all about you and your needs. I think it is highly unlikely that your husband will welcome you back but I guarantee that, should you get to sit down and talk together, the further revelation that your rape wasn’t exactly a rape but a situation between you and your boss that got out of hand would be the final blow.
. . . Something isn’t right here, which makes me wonder whether you are telling the truth to yourself, never mind your husband.
Ah. It wasn’t a “rape.” It was a “situation.” Situations! Anything goes in them, really! Remember this next time the man responsible for your paycheck gets drunk and forces you to have sex with him, but you decide not to physically fight him, because he is a strong, drunk, forceful man responsible for your paycheck: What were you doing turning up in that “situation” to begin with? Add that to the list of things to avoid if you don’t want to get raped, ladies: Short skirts, beer, and “situations.”
Again, I’m not an advice columnist, but isn’t the more troublesome detail here that Eva would describe her “situation” as “not quite rape”? Shouldn’t we address the fact that Eva appears to be in such denial about that “situation” that almost a decade later, she can’t come to terms with what actually happened to her? No time: We still have to deal with Eva’s horrible decision not to get an abortion!
I see a complete mismatch between what has actually happened and the fantasies that you are weaving around the relationship. So I feel I should spell a few things out.
. . . You made a unilateral decision. You decided to continue with the pregnancy in the absolutely unrealistic expectation that your husband would be happy to bring up the child of another man, his wife’s rapist. This is a no-brainer, Eva. No man could contemplate this. He would have found your decision inexplicable.
. . . On the whole, men’s hearts are not melted by children who are not their own. Even a tender-hearted man is going to find it hard to be charmed by the child of a man he believes raped his wife. There is no bond between your former husband and this child, and I doubt there ever could be.
Oh, that “unilateral decision” to have an abortion! Whenever women make that decision all on their own, without even thinking of the “feelings” of their husband, government, or Telegraph advice columnist, some bad shit is bound to go down that will ruin their lives forever, right?
One last time—-I’m not an advice columnist—-but if I were, I would focus on reminding Eva about what a total dickwad her husband was after she had to endure being raped and impregnated by her boss. Perhaps we just gently tell Eva that, really, the problem is not in her decision to carry a pregnancy to term, but rather the decision to continue to allow this fucking guy to have any sway over her child, her happiness, or her life.
It’s clear that both Lesley Garner and I aren’t really down with the idea of Eva and her ex getting back together. We just happen to disagree on a few of the minor details—-like what rape means, and whose feelings should be most valued in the case of abortion. Nevertheless, Garner’s conclusion is a good one: “As for your lovely son, yes, it would be good if he had a father but he will also thrive if he has a happy, stable mother who has the support of a network of friends and family . . . become a happier and more fulfilled person in yourself and you have a much better chance of a strong relationship in the future.” A good place to start? Ignoring every piece of advice that preceded Garner’s final thought.