I was carelessly scrolling through my newsfeed today when I came across a friend’s post with the article, “Remember Brock Turner? From 3 months ago? He’ll Leave Jail Friday”. I was immediately enraged. When the case came to the public eye, I read. I read for days. I read every article I could find, I read every friend’s post on Facebook, I read every tweet. The case drew me in. It was like a train wreck and I could not look away. Except, I stayed relatively silent.
The article as it turns out, was dated August 30, 2016. Brock Turner has been released. It’s possible I already knew this, but I was preparing to move to Sri Lanka, and I can’t tell you I was particularly paying attention to the news at that time. This does not change the fact that Brock Turner is now out of prison. After serving a mere 3 months of his 6 month sentence for sexual assault and penetration of an unconscious woman, Brock Turner is free. Perhaps more appalling than his freedom is the fact that the word RAPE was never used except for it being decided that Brock Turner had the intent to rape. It was found that the victim had been penetrated but with a “foreign object” rather than raped.
As unlikely as it may be that you are unaware of details of the case I will summarize it. On January 20, 2015 two graduate students cycling past a frat house saw a man (Brock Turner) thrusting on top of an unresponsive women next to a dumpster. His pants were down, her dress was up, her genitalia exposed and his, touching her body. The students pulled Brock Turner off of the woman and held him there until the police arrived. This is the reality of our society, where rape culture is perpetuated in the justice system which is not only supposed to prevent such a crime, but when it occurs ,provide an answer in the form of sentencing. Brock Turner penetrated a women, but we will not call him a rapist because the men who pulled him off of her did not physically see him rape her. It was the word of an unconscious woman against the assailant. Brock Turner, wrote the script.
Unlike various media outlets I will not shed light on his accomplishments, his extracurricular and share testaments about his character. Brock Turner penetrated a woman without consent. Rape is defined as numerous sources to be penetration whether that of someone’s sexual organs or a foreign object. I don’t think many would disagree that what a victim is penetrated with, is irrelevant without consent. He did not intend to rape her, he did. Her accomplishments were not listed. No testaments to her character shared in the media. While the courts discussed the negative impacts this case would hold for the rapist, we watched how someone’s social class and connections could override one’s crimes.
While I know I am not alone in being influenced by rape culture, I believe this is why I stayed so silent on the issue. When a case with two witnesses, can result in no more than a mere rap on the knuckles, how do you speak out?
The first time I was told I deserved to be raped, an acquaintance heard that I turned down advances of a guy he did not even know. In his words, “if I had been that guy, I would have taken what I deserved”. In this case, his belief was that because I had been on 3 dates with this guy over the span of a few weeks, I owed him MY body. Except when someone thinks they deserve your body, it never truly feels like yours again.
The second time I was told I should be raped was when I was standing outside a bar waiting for a taxi. From across the road, an acquaintance from middle school recognized me and called out to me. He came over to chat and it was nice until, he asked what my plan was for the rest of the night. I pointed out I was waiting for my cab and I was ready to go home, my night was finished. That was when he started to try to touch me, at first he touched my arm and then he got more aggressive. I stepped away, asking him, please don’t do that. This was perhaps one of the scariest interactions I’ve had with a male. He stepped towards me again and in a low voice said, “you’re tough with all these people around but if it were you and me, you wouldn’t have a choice, you wouldn’t like what would happen”.
Silence on rape culture only allows it to continue. We must scream and shout about the reality of rape culture until our lungs hurt. We must talk about rape culture until it is so prominent that it can no longer be ignored. This is my opinion, some days. Other days, I think I am not the problem so why must I work so damn hard to find the solution? When a court can ignore the reality of what Brock Turner did based on the harm it may do to his future, how is there any hope for a society without rape culture?
To read the victim’s powerful impact statement follow this link .