This sex and relationships advisor justified the sending of unsolicited nudes and people aren't happy

Narjas Zatat@Narjas_Zatat
Thursday 21 June 2018 08:30
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Picture:(Chicago Humanities Festival/YouTube screengrab )

A popular podcaster has come under fire after he told a woman who received unsolicited nude photographs that she is 'not a victim of sexual harassment'.

Dan Savage hosts 'Savage Lovecast' and offers advice to people about sex, relationships and love.

His latest episode, 'Where Do Kinks Come From?' begins with a call from a woman, who shares a story about a time she received unwanted pictures of a man's penis.

She told him:

I think I was just the victim of sexual assault.

The unnamed woman said that an Amazon delivery man had delivered a package to her last year. As it was sweltering hot - '100 degrees' - she invited him into her house and offered him a glass of water. They had a conversation about their mutual love of dogs, and she told him that she was married and that they'd moved into the area recently.

She gave him her number. Some time later he messaged her.

Today, out of nowhere, I ended up getting nine text messages, just a slew of very very odd requests – I guess? – and d**k pics saying he’s spoken with my husband on a Tumblr feed saying all I wanted was a black d**k.

The man in question apologised, insisted he was 'not a sexual predator' and asked her not to report him.

And I feel bad because I’m almost sex shaming this guy, but at the same time he knows where I live, he knows my cell phone number. Is there anything else I should have done?

It is at this point Savage offers advice:

First, a little perspective: you are not the victim of a sexual assault. You’re not even, I’m sorry to say, the victim of sexual harassment. You haven’t been assaulted. Physically assaulted. Getting some text messages and a d**k pick or two or three or nine from some a**hole doesn’t make you the victim of sexual assault.

It makes you the victim of some unpleasant, unwelcome a**hole-ry.

That you told him to stop and that you were going to report him And he stopped, means technically, legally you’re not the victim of sexual harassment.

Harassment kicks in when someone makes a pass at you, asks you out, you say no, leave me alone and they persist.

Writer and wrestler Andrew Shakti pulled Savage up on victim-blaming.

Savage added that it was "unnerving and unpleasant" to receive unsolicited nude pictures, and said the man 'clearly doesn't have good judgement and clearly has boundary issues and is a fantasist'.

However, beyond instructing the woman to 'block his number', he also told her that in the future she shouldn't invite a service man in for a glass of water.

Perhaps in the future, don’t give your phone number to near strangers who you don’t really know anything about.. Which is not to shift the blame or responsibility onto your shoulders.

Take proactive measures to protect ourselves, like not handing out our number to strangers.

Rachel Krys, co-director at the End Violence Against Women Coalition told indy100 that Savage is wrong - sending those kind of unwanted images is unequivocally sexual harassment: 

There really can't be any debate that sending multiple, unsolicited, sexually explicit pictures to a virtual stranger is extremely sexually aggressive behaviour and sexual harassment which is unlawful.

To in any way dismiss this as 'kinky' behaviour ignores how threatened the person receiving these messages can often feel. It is never acceptable to harass anyone in this way and it is disappointing that this behaviour is being trivialised in such a public way.

Janey Starling, campaign manager at Level Up adds that gender-based violence exists on a 'spectrum': 

Gender based violence happens on a spectrum, and beneath all of it is a lack of respect for women.

Sending someone an unsolicited picture of your penis is disrespectful and it is harassment. This lack of respect also includes not listening to women when they share how an experience has impacted them. When a woman speaks out about her experiences of harassment, it's important that people like Dan listen to and believe her.

When asked by indy100 to clarify his comments, Savage replied saying that he "misspoke" and would be "offering a correction on the next episode" of his podcast.

He added:

Sending unsolicited d**k pics is a**hole-ry - and I recognise that unsolicited d**k pics are a form of sexual harassment and will be experienced as harassment by the overwhelming majority of people, mostly women, who receive them.

And the caller was made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe in her home and I certainly didn't intend to blame here. 

Where I got into the weeds was when she described it as assault - as a crime. It is not criminal harassment; perhaps it should be. But it is definitely sexual harassment.

More: When this woman got an unsolicited d**k pic she sent it straight to the man's grandmother

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