By now, the news of Brock Turner raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster has circulated around the internet and across the various news stations. After seeing so many articles and newscasts about the “Stanford swimmer,” I thought, ah what the heck, I’ll add my own two cents.
Brock Turner is a rapist.
I won’t dance around the word or sugarcoat it, because that’s what he is, pure and simple. This isn’t about political correctness or the “party culture” on college campuses. Brock Turner’s story is just a page in the gargantuan tome of campus rape and the rape culture we live in.
Turner’s case typifies rape culture
“Rape culture” may seem like a big, scary term that too many people would rather gloss over, but let me break it down for the timid among you:
- Rape culture is Brock Turner being able to get a lighter sentence because the judge thought that it would have “a severe impact on him.”
- Rape culture is Brock Turner being described as a competitive athletic swimmer in news articles because the boy’s ability to swim and the bright future he held are much more important to note than the woman he raped.
- Rape culture is Brock Turner’s father writing a letter saying his son should not be condemned for “20 minutes of action.” (As if the trauma and psychological stress that this woman experienced only lasted for 20 minutes when, in reality, it will stay with her for the rest of her life.)
- Rape culture is Brock Turner being able to blame his crime on alcohol and be supported while a double standard disparages the unconscious woman for her actions.
- Rape culture is sexualizing women in sports, music and television and then turning around and blaming them for wearing too short a skirt or drinking too much after they’ve been sexually assaulted.
Why, yes, in fact, I’m only getting warmed up. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said by the woman in her letter to Turner (and I’m sure it wouldn’t be half as eloquent, either). So, I’ll just try to touch on a few other things.
A friend of Turner’s stated in another letter that she thinks it’s time to “stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.”
The notion that this whole ordeal is about being “politically correct” is absurd. Ms. Rasmussen, people like your friend Brock who do not get that strong verbal “yes” from the person they intend to have sex with with are, in fact, rapists. I know it’s hard to choke down, but sometimes the truth doesn’t taste all that good. It’s time to wake up and recognize that rape is rape. No ifs, ands or buts.
This has never been about political correctness. It’s about justice. It’s about this woman reclaiming her life before and after that night. It’s about other rape survivors seeing a shift in how rape cases are handled. It’s about creating a safer environment for students on college campuses.
It’s disgusting to stake people’s humanity in this twisted ideology and deplorable to imply that people who are up in arms about rape culture are too sensitive about such a despicable act. If Turner had killed this woman in a drunken driving accident, I’m sure people wouldn’t be as quick to categorize those who were upset as being politically correct. But what do I know? I’m just being too sensitive about the rape of an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.
To think that women exist for the sole purpose of sexual pleasure is insulting and outdated, yet somehow Brock Turner still felt himself entitled to this woman’s body. It’s time to recognize that women are not here to be sexual objects and actually start doing something about their objectification.
What comes next?
While it may seem like a hopeless cause, there is so much that can be done to help rape survivors and to keep fighting the good fight against campus rape and sexual assault (and off-campus cases, too).
It’s easy to sit behind the keyboard of your computer and think that you can’t do a thing about this, but you can. You can donate, sign petitions and even run marathons, but the simplest thing you can do is believe anyone who tells you that they’ve been sexually assaulted. (Fun fact: Only between 2 and 10 percent of reported rapes are false reports.)
Don’t ask them how much they were drinking or what they were wearing. Just believe them and urge them to get help. Know where your resources are and be a support system. It can be effortless to slip into the mindset that we should only look out for ourselves, but we must lean on one another and extend that kindness and compassion to others.
In the end, the following quote from the anonymous woman’s statement to Turner said it best, and she has my endless admiration:
Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you.