By Julie Booth
If you are a woman in America, society’s lessons have never been clearer: your safety, rights, and dignity are not a priority, and you will not receive any kind of justice. On September 2, Brock Turner, rapist (and I think I heard somewhere that he swims too?), was released from jail after serving only half of his extremely lenient six-month sentence after brutally raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Now, there’s a lot that’s wrong with that statement, but we are going to focus in on that six-month sentence that he didn’t even serve.
Six months is no time at all. That is less than an academic year. That is less than a woman’s pregnancy. And that is WAY less than the time it will take for Brock Turner’s victim to feel some kind of normalcy again in her life. Turner’s “punishment” for violently and unequivocally destroying a woman’s life is essentially to take a semester off from school, and he didn’t even serve his entire time! That is not right. Setting aside for a moment what we think is a fair punishment for emotionally destroying and physically violating another human being, we should consider The People v. Brock Turner case in the context of other rape cases in America. Just this July, Cory Batey, a former Vanderbilt University student, was sentenced to 15 years in jail with no chance of early release for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Batey and Turner had the same circumstances, but they had vastly different outcomes, and that is not right either. Now don’t get me wrong; I am in no way saying that Batey should have received a lesser sentence. If anything, 15 years is not enough for raping an unconscious woman. Turner’s sentence should have been years longer and something a bit more significant than a slight hiccup in his graduation schedule.
In addition to Turner’s pathetic excuse of a punishment, he has recently expressed his plans to commence a speaking tour, in which he would visit various college campuses in order to discuss the issue of “Drinking and Promiscuity.” So we see here, not only is Turner trying to monetize off of his heinous crime – an act truly disgusting in itself – but he is also still not taking responsibility for his actions. He still is not admitting that he singlehandedly and inconsiderately violated another human being simply because he cannot control himself nor respect the wishes or rights of others.
Turner is still blaming, as we can see plainly by the title of his lecture, both alcohol and women. However, what Turner fails to realize is that on any given day, millions of men drink, but most do not sexually assault anyone because of it. You can drink and have basic human decency, or you can drink and rape, in exactly the same way that you can be sober and have basic human decency or you can be sober and rape. The very title of Turner’s lecture implies that because a man or woman is drinking and because the woman is promiscuous, she may be raped. Drinking is not an excuse to violate another person, nor is it ever the fault of the victim and her “promiscuity.” No, Brock Turner, your “frat-boy” drinking habits are not to blame, nor is your victim. You are to blame. There is no excuse.
Unfortunately, this victim blaming is not unique to the Brock Turner case. A simple discussion with any rape victim or read-through of a case will be littered with instances of victim blaming that sound like “maybe you shouldn’t have been drinking…” or “what did you expect wearing that outfit?” Recently, a Canadian federal judge, named Justice Robin Camp, asked a rape victim in court “why couldn’t you keep your knees together?” This open disregard for women’s basic human rights and dignity is not acceptable, but it is becoming more and more commonplace for men to go virtually unpunished for these crimes and openly blame their victims for their own actions.
This is wrong. Rape victims should feel empowered to seek justice, not shy away for fear of censure. They should be able to seek help from others without reproach. And you, Brock Turner, are the one leading the drive backwards against the tide of equality. For you, your life, your swim career, and your Saturday night will always be far more important than those you’ve destroyed on your path. For you, your education is too important to be delayed by a rape you committed, a life you destroyed. I’ve lost hope that maybe one day you’ll accept that you’ve done the most atrocious of things, and now I only hope that there are no more Brock Turners who spend a single summer in jail for rape.
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Campus Rape Statistics:
College women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than to be robbed.
1 in 5 sexual assault victims at college do not report the incident for fear of reprisal.
As undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
Female college students are 20% less likely, and male college students are 78% more likely, to be a victim of rape or sexual assault than non-college students of the same age and gender.
21% of transgender, genderqueer, or nonconforming (TGQN) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males.
All statistics courtesy of RAINN.org