Update on John Petroski, writer of “Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It”

After communicating with John Petroski via e-mail over the past few days, I wish I could tell you the following happened:

1) He replied gracefully to each e-mail sent to him from the readers of this blog, especially to the survivors of sexual assault who opened up to him.

2) He e-mailed to tell us that he finished reading Voices of Courage: Inspiration from Survivors of Sexual Assault and then shared the insight he gained from the book.  **To help raise his awareness, we sent him the e-book during the first evening of e-mail communications with him.

Unfortunately, neither of those results occurred.  In fact, John Petroski did not respond to any of the e-mails forwarded to him by readers of this blog.  When we e-mailed him to see if he was going to respond, he told us he didn’t know what to say.  We recommended he thank each person for their words.  Instead, he simply hasn’t replied — until this morning.  This morning, we received the following e-mail exchange from John Petroski

First e-mail from John Petroski (he is referring to an e-mail forwarded to him from a reader of this blog):

"You know what?  There is absolutely nothing nice I can say about people who honestly feel my article ‘glorif[ied] rape.’  So I won’t.  CNN already pretty much laid it out for me, anyway."

Mike Domitrz’s response:
John:

Then I will share your response on the blog. Since you have not responded to any of the e-mails yet, I will also stop forwarding these e-mails to you.

John Petroski’s next e-mail response:
Please keep forwarding them.  I made a promise to read them all and I will.  I don’t believe I promised to reply to every last one, however.

But you know, while I am sorry about hurting people, I can’t be sorry about people not getting that I wasn’t serious, because I made the article so over the top ridiculous that everyone should be able to tell that I don’t seriously condone rape, and if they can’t tell that, that’s not my fault.

I’m willing to be hear and listen to people who realize I was not seriously condoning rape and who are still hurt regardless.

I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here. 

Thanks,
John Petroski

Mike Domitrz’s next response:
John:

On my blog, I will let your e-mails speak for themselves. I will not summarize to take the risk of misquoting you. I will share your exact words.

I do think you are being unreasonable. If soooo many people read YOUR words and did not realize you were not being serious, than YOUR WORDS were poorly written by you. Accountability means you look in the mirror and see the results of your choices (both the intended results and the unintended results). You seem to be saying, "I can’t control how people react to my words." Yes, you can have great impact on your words. How? By the words you choose. If you did an article sharing the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, the reaction would have been completely different. You chose to write the piece you did — KNOWING it would cause controversy. You have said that your article proved the point you were TRYING to make.

If you are sorry for the hurt you caused, why are you "unable" to say something "nice" to the PEOPLE you hurt? Yes, some of their e-mails may sound harsh to you. They are hurt, John. Your words stirred that emotion and pain. Your words.

John Petroski’s next response:
This whole experience has taught me many important lessons about people, and they don’t all reflect poorly on me.

End of e-mails.

If you would like to forward an e-mail to John Petroski, you can still do so by e-mailing us at The Date Safe Project at info@thedatesafeproject.org.  We encourage you to post your comments here on the blog.  Why?  The words you share on this blog will not be wasted.  In fact, your words shared here may inspire more people to help create change in their communities.  The readers of this blog have shown a history of caring and possessing great passion for helping others.

Many people have asked me, "What suggestions are people sharing with him?  How much emotion are people sharing with him?"  Without their permission, we will not post any of the e-mails of our readers.  The e-mails have included both reasonable and helpful suggestions for John Petroski to increase his understanding of sexual assault. In addition, e-mails have shared hard-hitting emotions felt by the reader.

The educational process and creating positive change is always an ongoing effort.  Please take this opportunity to post any comments or suggestions you have for actions that can be taken for the future (such as the comments posted on this blog in Juliette Grimmett’s "Comment" which suggested to have campus newspaper staffs receive training on sexual violence, stalking, and relationship violence).  What else can each of us do in our communities?

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