Why We Need To Stop Victim Blaming

Why We Need To Stop Victim Blaming

The importance of tackling victim-blaming behavior.
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For the second week in a row, I have decided to write about a current event. If you have spent any time on social media or watching the news recently, you most likely have heard about the Stanford Rape Case. In January of 2015, a 20-year-old male by the name of Brock Turner was discovered raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Unfortunately, I did not become familiar with the case until just recently when Turner was sentenced to a mere six months in prison for the charges held against him, with a guaranteed release after three months if he displays good behavior throughout his incarceration. Mind you, the maximum sentencing for the charges Brock Turner obtained adds up to a total of 14 years. Upon hearing about the sentencing, I did my research on the case and became rather disgusted by how this country portrays rape. In this article, I plan to outline the highlights of this case and how it sends a very poor message to society regarding the seriousness and repercussions associated with rape.

The lenient sentencing of six months in prison just further demonstrates how flawed and in need of reform our justice system is. The judge's ideal behind his decision was that a sentencing of anything more than six months would have a severe impact on Brock Turner's life. What about the victim? Did he consider that Turner's actions have a severe impact on her life? My guess is that he did consider this, as any judge would, but the ideal clearly did not weigh too heavily on his mind based on his ultimate decision. The unjustified sentencing of only six months for a crime that will have a lasting impact on the victim and her family sends such a poor message to both the victims of rape and to the perpetrators of it.


If you have not had the opportunity to read the powerful letter the victim wrote and read to her perpetrator during the proceedings, I highly recommend that you do. In the letter she describes how the event was immensely impactful in her life and continues to be to this day, from not being able to sleep at night, to the embarrassment of unveiling the news of the incident to friends and family, and finally to feeling completely disgusted and betrayed by her own body. It is time that we start taking the incidence of rape more seriously and to start instituting punishment that correlates more accurately with how the perpetrators of it should be dealt with. You can find the complete letter here.

As women we are constantly reminded to appreciate, respect, and value ourselves and our bodies. We receive these messages through television, such as in Dove commercials, and we see it on Facebook and Instagram where certain groups post with the sole purpose of promoting positive body image. With that being said, when something has horrendous as this rape case occurs and we see how lightly it is taken, it basically undermines all of those principles mentioned above. It sends the message that violation of your body without your permission is only permissible to six months in prison when you yourself have undergone years of suffering because of it. For the perpetrators, this instills the horrible notion that you can rape someone and only serve half a year in prison as punishment. If the punishment is so light, then what really stops a rapist from raping someone? Is this really the world that we want our sisters, mothers, daughters, nieces, and friends living in?

What probably bothered me the most when becoming familiar with the case was that the fact that the victim was intoxicated was continually brought up in conversation. For those of you who are not aware, women do not go and have drinks with the hope of being raped. I know that it was mentioned by Turner that the victim was rubbing his back during the party they were attending and that he may have taken this as consent for what occurred later on. Rubbing someone's back does not correspond with wanting to have sex just as women do not expect to be raped when they wear a short skirt. She wanted to wear a short skirt because she thought it was cute, not to be violated against her wishes. She had some drinks because she wanted to have a good time with her friends, not because she wanted to be blacked out behind a dumpster. This Scottish commercial is aimed at tackling women-blaming attitudes regarding rape. You can find it here.

We must stop blaming the victim and instead start asking why the perpetrator thought he had the right to rape. It should never matter if the victim was wearing a tight dress and a lot of makeup, or if she was slurring her words from having one too many drinks. Any decent man would know that being drunk is never a valid excuse to rape someone. It is 2016 and yet we are still blaming the victims of rape for something they wore, did, or said that might have caused the perpetrator to "lose control." Instead, we need to start instituting punishments that are suitable for the pain inflicted upon the victim. Since when do we prioritize the best interest over the perpetrator of rape over the victim? It is my hope that the Stanford Rape Case will at least present an opportunity for our society to really take a step back and realize how idiotically our society handles rape and to make the appropriate changes to ensure a safer, more just environment for rape victims and to instill more suitable punishments for the perpetrators.

Cover Image Credit: http://fromacloud.us/victim-blaming-isnt-just-womans-issue/

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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My First Political Debate Experience Only Revealed The Messed-Up Reality Of American Partisan Pandering

More sinister than fake news, more timeless than Trump and Kavanaugh, the deceit and radicalization of modern politics is poisoning America.

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Given my age (almost 16 and a half!) and my nonpartisan perspective on most issues, it's rare that I attend any politically motivated function (much less in person). Unfortunately, my first taste of official political discourse only encapsulated everything I dislike about American politics.

Upon learning that my high school was hosting a debate between two candidates for the district's representative position, I was immediately intrigued. Admittedly, I had my expectations set high. I had jotted down "House Rep. Debate" on my calendar a week in advance and marked off the days the event neared. I would finally get to learn firsthand about the issues affecting my community and about the people with plans to fix them.

To a certain extent I got what I had hoped for, but certainly not in the environment I had anticipated.

When the student moderators introduced the candidates, Democrat Angelika Kausche and Republican Kelly Stewart, to the stage, it was already abundantly clear how ideologically distinct the two opponents would be.

The first question, which asked each candidate to describe how their views aligned with their party's platform, revealed just how cut-and-dry the candidates were at representing their respective factions. On the left, an unwavering conservative with a keen avoidance of overspending and socialist policies. On the right, an equally grounded liberal with a passion for tackling humanitarian injustices and enforcing moral correctness.

This circumstance certainly isn't unprecedented, but the rest of the night only proved how their narrow-minded partisan loyalty served as barriers to productive discourse.

Right off the bat, Kausche avoided the clearly stated question by taking the time to thank the John's Creek Community Association for hosting the event.

Stewart, however, dove right into her response, which turned out to be a fine-tuned diatribe about Georgia's budgetary deficit and Kausche's supposed lack of budgetary experience and the budgetary concerns and the budget. Finally, Stewart concluded that perhaps the most important thing to consider is, you guessed it, the budget. She even printed out budget sheets for attendees, which I found extraordinarily useful as a handy notepad.

My head perked up when I heard a question regarding Georgia's healthcare policies. Admittedly, I know less than I should about the subject and was curious to know what each candidate thought.

Shockingly, Republican Kelly Stewart opposed the expansion of Medicaid while Democrat Angelika Kausche vehemently supported it. I start to wonder what the point of having candidates' names on the ballot is when their political stances just as much could be conveyed with the letters "D" and "R" to the tee.

Neither candidate veered from their party platform for the rest of the night, with only a few moments of forced agreement (always around the fact that an issue exists, never about how to solve it). On a few occasions, a candidate would utter an especially radical idea (i.e. Obamacare is at blame for the opioid crisis. Medicaid should be for all people. Teachers should be armed.) and was almost always met with either overwhelming applause or a sea of groans.

The room's reaction was so powerful in either candidate's favor that I was genuinely confused who was the more favored of the two.

To be abundantly clear, I wholeheartedly support voter efficacy and staying informed, and I understand that debates inform voters of their representative's ideals. I also don't mean to criticize Kausche or Stewart or even the policies they endorse. I only question the point of debate when it's anchored in stiff, unrelenting party platforms. This is symptomatic of the larger trend at work in American politics: the exploitation of party differences by politicians to entice a demographic of their constituents.

If you're wondering what that means or demand evidence, just take President Trump. Back in 2016, his presidential campaign threatened to run as independent when he felt he wasn't getting enough support from the GOP. Now, he champions radicalized views of the right and has emboldened members of the far-right (along with alt-right neo-Nazis and racists) with his entirely anti-PC attitude.

Similarly, it's rare to find a democratic politician that deviates from the extensive list of liberal ideas that are expected of them. Consider Trump's opponent Hilary Clinton, who originally made it clear in 2014 that she was against nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Isn't it suspicious that in 2015, without explaining why her stance changed, her presidential campaign later advocated for this right, thus garnering support from the LGBT community?

There's so much more wrong with the state of American politics than your opposed party controlling political office.

The effect of the American people allowing this pandering and doublespeak is political inaction among policymakers, who can preach a set of ideals independent of their actual intentions.

The other result is voter apathy among constituents, who therefore feel their vote holds little weight.

With such deceitful rhetorical tactics dominating the political sphere, it's easy to believe that we've all been given a voice. But when that voice only ever tells us what we want to hear, it's important that we stop to question whether we're really being heard.

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