It has been a while since I blogged but the Stanford University case has left me angry and utterly bereft at rape culture in western society in equal measure so I felt I needed to write about this. I read the impact statement written and read bravely aloud by the victim of Brock Turner with tears in my eyes, the hash reality of her words mirroring the harsh reality of rape. The violation of sexual assault does not deserve flowery verbiage, when she described how “You do not know me yet you have been inside of me” this is a line so many women will have read and related to, even more will have related to yet and yet will have known their attackers.
I’m sure we all remember that famous front page of the Independent newspaper in the UK a few years ago showing the stark difference between the number of rapes which occur, the number who report their rape, those who get as far as court and then the pitifully low number who get a conviction. What that incredibly shocking front page didn’t go as far as to show was for those very few who succeed in conviction following prosecution how poor the sentences imposed often are. It answers the age old question as to why so few women report rape.
The outcry at Brock Turner only being sentenced to six months imprisonment in all honesty would have probably gone unnoticed were it not for the callous remarks made by the judge passing the sentence. Judge Persky shared his concern that a longer sentence could have a “severe impact” upon the life of the young athlete turned rapist. As someone who has experienced rape, albeit not stranger rape, I can assure you Judge Persky that his actions DID have a severe impact however they had that impact on his victim. The impact on Brock Turner has a different name altogether, that name is Consequences!
Next to step in to this by now infamous case discussion was Brock Turner’s father who could have chosen to stay silent out of respect for his son’s victim or even given commentary that he stood by his son but that he recognised he needed to be punished. He didn’t choose either of those options, he chose instead to try to shame his son’s victim again by stating that in his opinion “20 minutes of action” shouldn’t ruin his son’s life. One doesn’t have to look far to realise where Brock Turner got his morals and sense of entitlement. His son’s “20 minutes of action” will have life long implications for his victim, she may heal well but his actions will still catch her off guard on occasion; she may find herself seeing his face instead of her husbands when making love or the pain he caused her physically may return during an intimate examination or may intrude on what should be her perfect experience of childbirth. His “20 minutes of action” will be with her for life.
Brock Turner was found guilty and his victim should have been comforted that he was being punished for his crime, no custodial sentence would ever compare to the life sentence she was awarded on that January night. No prison sentence will ever restore her dignity or her mindset. She can and hopefully will heal emotionally as well as physically however she will forever see the world through tinted glasses. Her vision tinted, tainted even, with the violation of that night.
Actions have consequences and no mitigation offered by Turner such as his blaming of “peer pressure”, “party culture” and “drinking” make him any less culpable for his crime. Although rape culture in western society does take all of these things into account, if it didn’t he would have been sent to prison for far longer. If it didn’t then he may never have felt that his behaviour was acceptable and never have acted this way. It seems that although both Turner and his victim were intoxicated his intoxication is deemed to offer mitigation for his actions yet her intoxication have society questioning if she brought this upon herself.
Let me be very clear here alcohol does not make people rape or indeed make people get raped. Rapists cause rape. Not difficult as a concept is it?
In the same way short skirts or walking home alone or even a premiscuous past do not cause rape. One thing causes rape; Rapists. Brock Turner has released a statement sayig he wishes to educate his peers on the dangers of drinking excess alcohol, here’s an idea – educate them on consent!!! It’s simple really if someone doesn’t say yes then that is a no. If they say no, struggle or are even simply unconscious and unable to consent then this is rape.
As a society we teach our daughters how not to get raped, we tell them not to wear certain things and not to walk home alone late at night but we don’t teach our son’s not to rape. We talk about the dangers of alcohol and drugs but not about consent. Does it make you uncomfortable? Maybe it should! Rape is an uncomfortable subject and a life changing experience. Brock Turner has talked about a culture of promiscuity, I have not heard anyone refer to forcibly penetrating someone with a foreign object as promiscuity, just rape.
The victim in this case has said she has chosen to remain anonymous because “I am every woman” well “I am every woman” too and so are some of my friends and we stand along side her. We stand together to raise each other up when one of us doesn’t have the strength in our legs to hold us up. We stand together to challenge rape culture. We stand together to say victim blaming is not acceptable. We must ultimately teach our son’s not to rape and not simply rely on teaching our daughters to wear longer skirts.