Brock Turner. I’m sure you’ve heard his name and seen his face plastered across your Facebook feed. More over, if you’ve kept up with his case in the slightest, I’m sure you know that he was released from his disgustingly short six month sentence on Friday morning after serving only three months in a California jail. Also, as if his cake needed more icing, news reports and media everywhere have decided to share with us the details of his release with infuriating headlines proclaiming, “Ex-Stanford Swimmer Released From Jail" as if his water abilities are the most important thing about him.
Turner has now returned to his hometown in Ohio to live with his parents where he will serve his three year probation, register as a sex offender for life, and have to report to the local sheriff office every three months; however, as hard as it is to believe, not every aspect of this case has been negative.
Turner v. People has created desperately needed conversation about rape culture. A conversation that is so pertinent to our society today but has been avoided for so long by parents, educators, and other influential people in the lives of school-aged men and women. Rape is a serious crime and as the number of cases per year climbs we have to find a way to talk about it with young people. Rape is a tragedy, but the reality is we are faced with this tragedy every day whether it be personally or through our peers. This case has brought conversation to light and has brought the focus of education and rape culture prevention to college campuses and that is a good thing. In the midst of tragedy, we are educating our population and we are having important conversations that can no longer be avoided due to the popularity of the Turner case.
Not only are we educating young people on rape culture and prevention but we are educating them on defining rape as a whole. Federal laws define rape as penetration without consent, while certain states, like California, clarify that penile penetration must be made for it to classify as rape. This is how people like Turner are charged with sexual assault and not rape and are able to serve minute sentences and then move on with their lives. It isn’t fair and it is up to us to be educated and fight for change. It is important for young men and women both to know what exactly is happening to their bodies at all times, and although this case is a devastating, life-changing event for the victim, it has sparked awareness. It is important that we know our state laws against sexual assault and rape. It is vital that we know there is a difference. Education and conversation are the only way that we can fight this tragedy that is swarming college campuses across the nation.
Even though this case has been brutally unfair to Turner’s victim, it has sparked positive change for college campuses and hopefully young men and women as a whole. She has faced a tragedy, her life has been forever altered, but I hope that she finds some sort of peace in knowing that because of her, someone else might never have to face what she has gone through.