Originally published on The Minstrel, online (June 8, 2016).
“This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making. Assualt is not an accident.”
This is one of the statements that stood out to me in the letter the 23-year-old woman read to her rapist, 20-year-old Brock Turner, who sexually assaulted her when she was unconscious. The assault was only stopped when two Stanford graduate students biking across campus spotted Turner thrusting a half-naked woman behind a dumpster, and tackled Turner in order to stop him. His victim’s letter has quickly gone viral. Read her powerful story in full here.
Then Turner’s father decided to write a letter because he thought his son’s punishment of six months in a county jail with probation and having to be registered as a sex offender was too harsh. I think most people would agree that if you don’t want to be a registered sex offender, you shouldn’t commit sexual assault. Rape is rape, and nowhere close to “20 minutes of action,” as his father put it. Additionally, with good behavior, Turner could only end up serving three months.
Meanwhile, his victim’s life was put on hold for the hearing and trial.
“You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened,” her letter read.
Three or six months in jail are a slap on the wrist compared to the victim’s sufferings, and many people agree. So far, over 600,000 people have a signed a Change.org petition to remove Judge Aaron Persky from his position for the lenient sentence given to Turner. He feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact,” on Turner, who was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault and could have faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison.
With all the background on the case: I’d like to discuss a few things:
1. Brock Turner
I’d like to stop seeing his smiling rapist face everywhere. Can we stop referring to him as a former Stanford student and swimmer who had plans for the Olympics? In this case, we should all be referring to him as a rapist. The rest is irrelevant unless you want to examine the privileges of white men, because I have a feeling that if he was not an educated white athlete at Stanford, he would have received a harsher sentence.
2. Rapists cause rape
Alcohol does not cause rape. So someone tell me why Turner said he wants to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.” Mirroring the victim’s letter, why isn’t he talking about sexual assault, rape on college campuses and consent?
Another letter you should read is “To Brock Turner’s Father, From Another Father.” The author of this letter makes it clear that Turner is not a victim of alcohol and sexual promiscuity. He is not the victim at all.
“She is the wounded one. He is the damager.”
It seems a lot of people are confused about consent. Consent is hearing a verbal “yes.” This means someone must have the ability to say yes, and not be unconscious. You should not have to think that someone wants to have sex with you. You should 100 percent know that yes, this person wants to have sex with you. To learn more about consent, watch this video about comparing sex to tea:
4. Own up to your choices
The one thing that really disgusts me about this case is that Turner never apologized to his victim. He never owned up to what he did and does not believe raping her was wrong. In fact, he does not even think he raped her. He still insists it was the alcohol and sexual promiscuity. And his father, who should be teaching his son a lesson, is just as ignorant on the matter.
Turner deserves a sentence that has a “severe impact” on him to realize the seriousness of what he did because his actions will forever have a “severe impact” on the victim.
6. Do not objectify women
Lastly, women are not sexual objects to be dragged behind dumpsters to do with what you wish.
As the victim’s letter said, “If a girl falls down, help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear and insert your hand inside her vagina.”
Again, sounds like common sense, doesn’t it?
I leave you with this: treat others with compassion, kindness and respect, and think about the choices you make because they do not just affect you. Your decisions can have life-altering impacts on others.