victim blaming, patriarchal pitfalls, hit dogs, and other foolishness (part 1)

for those of you not familiar with steve harvey, he has a syndicated radio show. every day during the show, there's a segment called strawberry letter 23.

sometimes the letters are humorous, sometimes serious.

today, there was a really serious letter:

Date: 02/26/2009
Subject: distressed prostitute

Dear steve i am a 40 year old prostitute. i have a 16 year old and an 18 year old. they are both girls. they said that they want to follow in my footsteps but i told them no. the bad thing is that i'm a prostitute because their uncle started pimping me out at 16. and he is my girls father. and i have 4 other children by him that they dont know about. so what do you think that i should do?

understandably, this could be a fake--like any of them could. but the fact remains that this is not a completely unreasonable situation.

i had no issue with steve and shirley's response on air, but i decided that when i got to a computer, i'd check the listener comments to see what people were saying, thinking that folks would offer some interesting support and advice.

i was sadly disappointed.

most of the comments fell within the range of the following comments (identifying info removed, but otherwise unedited):

sample 1

I am aware their uncle could come from their father's side also. However, you stated at 16 he started pimping you out so this has to be your brother except the four other babies they do not know about.....wait you have me confused. They are all by the same man all six of them. So your brother is your pimp, brother, sexual partner, father of your children, children uncle. This can not be real. There is no need to discuss morality, ambition, profession, education, guidance, role model with you. You are just sick, you should have giving those girl up for adoption. The only thing I thought was strange initially was at 40 your eldest was 18 a bit old for a hooker. Then I read about the four others. Wonder where they are, and who raised them?

sample 2

I just want to know where was her parents the whole time this was going on between she and her brother. And although her daughters want to follow in her footsteps, she has no one else to blame except herself, because she is the role model for her children. So if she wanted a better life for them she should have thought about standing up for herself a longtime ago apparently she liked what she was doing too.

sample 3

Good morning Family. First off let me say that this letter is SOO wrong in SOO many ways. I hope and pray that this isn't true. At what point did it kick in that what was happening to you was wrong? Did you say something to another family member, or better yet, where was your MOTHER? I can't believe that you had SIX children and not once did anyone say anything about the father. Was there no one you could have went to and said I need to tell about what's been going on with me. You are now 40 years old and now your daughters are now looking at you like this is what they want to do. If this letter is true, it's time for you to 'man' up, be a woman about yours, stop with the self pitying, kick you old azz 'Uncle' to the curb and see about getting your life back together for the sake of your kids. And you said you have four other children that the other two don't know about? Where are they?? You know what...this foolishness has my pressure up and I'm going to be late for work. I'm going to pray for you. Family, you all have a good day.

sample 4

I am going to try to answer this question as dignified as I possibly can. Ahem! GET OFF YOUR BACK (literally) and GET A DAMN JOB!!! Where is Child Protective Services when you need them? You have a child that gets a spanking from their parents and CPS is ready to take the children. Here we have a woman that is hooking in front of her children, and CPS isn't involved. Lord, what is the world coming too. WHAT CAN YOU DO?!?!?! Is that a real question?!?!?!? Let's think a moment. Gee, what about...STOP HOOKING!!! I am hoping that when you say Uncle, you mean a man that the children call Uncle and not really any blood relation. That's what I am hoping because if that isn't the case, there is only one word to describe it...NASTY!!!! You don't want your children hooking! Why not? You set the stage by doing it in front of them!!! You must have wanted them in this life. I hate it when women act as if they don't have a way out situations like these. Since you are acting like you are dumb as bricks, I will set up the plan. 1. GET OFF YOUR BACK 2. GET TESTED FOR STD'S 3. GET ON YOUR FEET AND GET A DAMN JOB 4. WHILE WORKING GO TO SCHOOL AND GET YOUR EDUCATION (with two kids, you are sure to get Grants in order to further your education). 5. JOIN A CHURCH IMMEDIATELY (there is a Thursday bible study somewhere need you, I am sure of it) 6. MOVE FROM WHEREVER YOU ARE NOW AND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. With the lifestyle that you have led, you need at least be 500 miles away from your old stomping grounds 7. Never have any contact with the "Uncle" ever again.

sample 5

Good Morning, I honestly hope that this letter is not real, but if it is all I can do is pray for her and hope that she will decide to turn to GOD and pray on it and he will take care of it

i'm gonna leave you with that for a minute.

in part 2, i'll respond as clearly and calmly as i can while simultaneously ripping these people a new one.

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