If you missed my last piece on rape and rape culture… read it here. In that article I discussed how hardly any rape or sexual assault cases make it to court and how 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail. What i forgot to mention is that, when cases do make it to court… they are not always a victory.
Last January, a grad student was sexually assaulted while attending a fraternity party with her younger sister. The rapist? Brock Turner, a student and athlete at Standford University. Sounds like the typical college campus scenario, right? The school jock rapes or assaults the drunk girls at parties and attempts to get away with it. It’s OK because the girl was drunk, right? I’ts OK because the rapist has a bright future ahead of him, right? Being drunk is not a crime and – news flash – everyone in this world has the right to “get drunk” without fear of getting raped or assaulted. Remember, it is 100% possible to consume alcohol and not rape those around you. Ask my friends, if you don’t believe me.
He gets his year book photos and stills of him in his suit and tie during his trial published in the media.
This narcissistic, privileged asshole (he doesn’t deserve to be referred to by a proper name) assaulted and did God knows what else to a completely unconscious woman behind a dumpster and was caught doing so by two other students who held him there until police showed up. The victim woke up strapped to a gurney, in a hospital, with no idea or recollection of what had happened to her or why she was there. This is a no-brainer, right? He assaulted her, he got caught, there is evidence, nothing else to prove, right? Turner was convicted of sexual assault in March of this year, and he faced up to 14 years in prison. Great news, right?! A victory? Not quite yet. Brock’s father begged the judge for leniency. He wrote the judge a letter about how great his kid is. How he hasn’t been able to eat his most favorite steak anymore, since this incident. How his life is forever changed. Here is an excerpt from his pitiful 3 page letter to the judge:
“As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.
This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015. Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate
results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net’ positive way.”
The father’s letter is the epitome of victim blaming and rape culture. It’s no surprise to see the apple does not fall far from the tree. Last week, a judge sentenced Brock to a measly six months of county jail time. The same prison you would go to if you shoplifted a candy bar or didn’t pay a DMV ticket. Yup, six months, NOT six years (which still wouldn’t be enough). As if his minimal sentencing wasn’t enough, he also has the opportunity to possibly be released sooner, pending good behavior (does he just not have to rape anyone then?). The judge claimed that anything harsher than that sentence would have a “severe impact” on this rapist. This sounds like an episode of Punk’d, doesn’t it? I said in my last article how the law is simply not on our side. This is the farthest thing from a victory. This puts us in a deeper hole than before. It’s 2016, and our society has not moved forward in any way in regards to protecting or supporting victims of rape and sexual assaults.
Six months so the privileged rapist doesn’t have to suffer too much. Six months until he is released to sexually assault other women. What about the victim? What about her feelings and her future? She is the one that will have to live with this pain and shame for the rest of her life. She is the one that loses in this game. She loses her confidence, her self-esteem, probably her capability to be intimate with a partner anytime soon, if ever. She loses her trust in others. Her freedom of being able to ever enjoy another alcoholic drink again. She will spend her time wondering what she could have done differently as to not get raped. She’ll wonder if maybe she should have stuck to her sister a little closer that night. She’ll wonder if maybe she shouldn’t have had the second, or third, or fourth drink. Here’s an excerpt from the 13 page letter she wrote to her rapist which she able to read to him in court:
“I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else. On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because i have nightmares of being touched where i cannot wake up, i did this thing where i waited until the sun came up and i felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, i went to bed at six o’ clock in the morning. I used to pride myself on my independence, now i am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where i should be comfortable. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble i feel, how timidly i move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me, You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
I couldn’t even go back to re-read this article for editing purposes without bawling my eyes out at the thought of her pain. What does this message send to other predators on campus? You can rape and have your “20 minutes of action” and don’t really need to worry because it’s only six months of jail time? Six months is not going to deter a determined predator from raping or sexually assaulting anyone. Imagine if the rapist in this case were Black or Latino? Nobody would have to petition and protest for a harsher sentence because he would have already had it handed to him. His mugshot would be shrewn all over the media. Silly photos of him with a toy gun are what would be used to depict him as the felon that he is. Imagine if the rapist was Arab and/or Muslim? I can just see it now, every Trump supporter would be calling for life in prison and his family and all other ‘sand ni***rs‘ to be deported for raping their women. Mug shots and photos of the criminals in religious attire would be displayed all over the TV and news articles. Personal unflattering photos would have been plucked from social media accounts to show the suspects in a distasteful manner. What does sweet ol’ Brockie boy get? He gets his year book photos and stills of him in his suit and tie during his trial published in the media. So that we may feel sorry and sympathetic for him. Not his victim. Folks, this is what we call – white privilege.
PS! – I just signed this petition to have the Stanford alumni judge on this case removed from his judicial position, although doubtful this can or will happen… I am looking out for the next victim of a white rapist with this biased judge. Will you do the same?