This past week, huge press has been released surrounding a now highly publicized rape that took place last January at Stanford University. A few things make this case stand out from the staggering numbers of other yearly campus rape and assault cases. First, a lengthy letter written by the victim to her attacker was made public, and its graphic content and impactful message have been sparking people to speak out against crimes of this nature. Additionally, the perpetrator received a startlingly lenient sentence and shortly after the victim's letter was released, a second letter, written by the father of Brock Turner (the convicted student), was also made public, sparking continued outrage from me, as well as the rest of the country.
There are so many things about this case and verdict that infuriate me, so many places where such overwhelming injustice and selfishness is shown. When such a terrible act of rape or assault is so blatantly committed, why should there ever be any question of who is at fault? This woman was unconscious! No question about it, that alone is immediate and definitive proof that no consent was given and the violations against her should never have occurred.
In this case, aside from receiving an incredibly lenient and unfitting sentence, the rapist and his father both refuse to accept responsibility for his actions that night. They blame other outside factors - college stress was getting to him, partying and alcohol culture were controlling him, promiscuity among college students is basically a crisis.
And here's my one response to that particularly ridiculous claim: "Promiscuity and alcohol culture"? Are you kidding me? Anyone who tries to compare assault to standard promiscuity is seriously deluding themselves and completely disrespecting the victim of their terrible actions. To commit a crime like this, and then completely accept responsibility, apologize and repent is one thing - still horrible, but far better than denying what clearly happened and continuing to make the victim feel less and less worthy of any shred of respect.
This woman, who bravely shared a deeply personal letter, exposing every thought, memory and ounce of pain related to the worst moments of her life, was then forced to wait and suffer without any positive resolution for more than a year. Even now, she doesn't have true justice, as her rapist received a ridiculously light sentencing - more like a slap on the wrist than punishment for three felonies - and also refused to ever accept his guilt or apologize to his victim for his actions. Though he does say repeatedly in his own letter how much that night ruined his life, he never once mentions the young woman out there who was even more destroyed by it.
How is it even the slightest bit possible to convince anyone that violating and raping an unconscious, intoxicated woman without any indication of consent is the same as being a normal, promiscuous, and consenting, college student?
Brock Turner continues to make one cowardly and horrid choice after another. While he writes a statement to the judge of his case, his father is the one whose pathetic excuses for his son's despicable actions are most publicized. This letter is one of the things that seems to enrage people the most, myself among them. In this letter, Brock's father spends about three words vaguely mentioning the victim of his son's actions. The rest of the letter is spent pandering to the judge, regaling him with completely irrelevant stories from his son's "perfect" childhood, creating an image of Brock as the farthest thing from a rapist - a loving, academically focused athlete who everyone loves, "whether they are male or female." Likewise, in Brock's statement, he too completely ignores the victim, choosing only to lament his own ruined life and his forever broken "shell and core."
And ultimately, what kind of twisted system do we have, where a man, unanimously convicted of three separate serious felonies, can receive a sentence of only six months, half of which most likely won't even have to be served? It also makes me wonder: if someone non-white, non-educated, and non-athletic committed the exact same crime, how much of that 14-year potential sentence would they be serving?
So, to the sexist, deluded judge who issued this ruling: Next time you decide to feel sorry for a rapist, and lessen his sentence because a longer sentence would "have a severe impact on him," think about his victim. Think about the woman whose mental health, happiness, career and social life have all deteriorated immensely because of 20 minutes she can't even remember, the details of which are now on every screen in America. And think about every other woman out there who has been in a similar situation and never even got to have her voice heard.