A criminal who needs no introduction as of late, Brock Turner. About three months ago, at the beginning of the summer, Turner circulated through news cycles. After raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at Stanford University, where he attended, Turner was only sentenced to six months in jail and wasn’t even convicted of rape. After serving just three months in jail, Turner is back in the news today, Friday, September 2, 2016, he has been released for “good behavior.”
When more than thousands of people read the letter his victim (I prefer to call her a survivor) read to Judge Aaron Persky and the jury, the letters Turner’s parents wrote pleading the Judge to not punish their son for “20 minutes of action,” and even Vice President Joe Biden’s letter to the survivor, Turner was still referred to as the Stanford swimmer, Stanford student, All-American swimmer. His mug shot did not circulate until he was already convicted, instead his Stanford picture was shown. Instead of going back into the double standard that exists because he is a white male from a middle-class family, let’s get into how time and time again, people, the media, and everyone refuses to call Brock what he is. He is a rapist.
I’ve been extremely angry about this entire sham of a trial for over three months and it’s clear that my anger will continue. What’s so troubling about today’s events is not only that Turner has been released from prison already or that this is more jail time than most rapists ever serve, but that people are failing to recognize who he is. Why don’t victims report their rapists? Because of this. This is the best option, the best scenario, best outcome they can expect. It doesn’t matter if a victim is a man, woman, whatever. What matters is that sexual assault victims do not come forward because they don’t ever get the justice they deserve.
The young woman who Turner violated, assaulted, and essentially ruined had to see her rapist’s school ID picture circulate through the media because his mug shot was never released. Now there are reports that Turner was smiling and laughing when the bystanders interrupted him sexually assaulting the young woman behind the dumpsters. What kind of monster is he? One that was able to get away with rape. Everytime Turner is referred to anything but a rapist, you’re slapping every victim, survivor, every person in the face. You’re telling them that it’s ok to rape someone because it’s not the worst thing you could do. I’m not going to go into how rape isn’t treated like other crimes like murder, drinking and driving, and any kind of homicide because that will make me angrier.
Instead of posting Turner’s “impressive” swimming times, discussing that he is unable to eat rib eye steaks, or blaming alcohol for his crime, make Turner own up to what he has done. He has ruined a girl’s life and has no remorse over it. Fix the system that allowed Judge Persky to sentence Turner to six months of jail because according to the judge, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.” Make rapists own up to their actions, every rapist. If we continue to allow these kinds of crime to occur with little consequence, what kind of world would we live in? Also fun (not really fun) fact, while Brock Turner was in jail an estimated 75,000 women were raped. (Watch this video by Liz Plank)
How can we change rape culture? How can we make a better world for rape and sexual assault survivors everywhere? Start a conversation. If you see something happen, interfere, don’t be just another bystander who wants to mind their own business. If the two grad students who intervened in Turner’s case did not, I shudder to think about what the verdict would have been or if a case would have made it to trial at all.