Actually, no. I’m not upset, I’m really pissed off.
I spent the last week visiting my family in Ottawa, and hanging out at my cottage – which has no internet. I was on the train back to Toronto this morning when I finally connected back on the Internet.
Here is what I saw.
I think to myself, What is going on right now?
Well, here is what is going on.
A 20-year old male, Brock Allen Turner, sexually assaulted and digitally (finger) raped a 22-year old female behind a dumpster after a frat party at Stanford University, California. He was found thrusting on top of said (unconscious) woman by two graduate students. Turner then ran and the two graduate students chased him and held him down until the police came to arrest him. Turner took the case to court, and after one year of gruesome trial he was unanimously found guilty of three counts of sexual assault by a jury of 8 men and 4 women. Despite a unanimous “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” verdict, the judge sentenced Brock Turner to 6 months in jail, with probation. Turner intends to appeal this sentence.
This is the Cole’s Notes version of the situation. For more detailed information read this.
Okay. I could try to make sense of this for you, but the fact is I can’t make sense of this for myself. So, if you would be so kind, let me sort out my thoughts and make my opinions known.
I am a feminist.
I am a proud feminist, actually. And you can take that however you like. But, what it means for me is that I value (and expect) equality and respect for both women and men. What I see in a situation like the Stanford Rape Case is not equality and respect for both women and men – because let’s be real here…RAPE
should, can, will never be synonymous or even congruous with either ‘equality’ or ‘respect’.
Brock Allen Turner Takes Rape Case to Court
The first issue I take with this situation is that it went to trial. I will fully admit to not knowing much (if anything) about legal issues. However, when there are two witnesses, an unclothed woman lying unconscious behind a dumpster, and physical evidence to suggest violence and sexual assault – I simply have to wonder: where is the legal case?
So now, let’s say (for argument’s sake) that a coherent, logical, and not-completely-white-privilege-bullshit explanation exists for Brock Turner’s
predicament, actions raping an unconscious woman.
Wait a second. No, that’s impossible.
There will NEVER BE (as in, never ever) a good reason or explanation for sexually assaulting and raping someone – whether they are sober, drunk, awake, unconscious, young, old, educated, not educated, female, male, trans, bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer, white, black, green, turquoise, Canadian, American, Italian, Martian, Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, Agnostic, Wiccan, an avid turtle lover, named David, drive an SUV, eat pretzels, on a diet…you get the picture.
There will never be a good enough reason to rape someone.
The Honorary Judge Aaron Persky’s Sentence
The second issue I take with this situation is with the “honorary” judge responsible for the case, Judge Aaron Persky. From what I understand (and again, I responsibly admit that I am not in the legal profession), Brock Turner was facing up to 14 years in prison. The prosecution asked for 6 years. Judge Aaron Persky gave him six months. In giving this sentence Judge Aaron Persky did not consider:
- A unanimous guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” verdict from a 12-person jury
- Three counts of criminal felonies
- Objections from 250 Stanford University students
- The victim’s 12-page victim statement [Trigger Warning]
- The Santa Clara District Attorney’s suggestion
- The Prosecution’s suggestion
So, what the hell did he consider? Let’s all take a deep breath, and plunge into the sea of bullshit that guided this man’s decision.
- He was drunk. “there is less moral culpability attached to the defendant, who is…intoxicated”
- He has no “significant” previous offences.
- The “intense media coverage” was stressful for him.
- He doesn’t think Turner “will be a danger to anyone”.
- “A PRISON SENTENCE WILL HAVE A SEVERE IMPACT ON HIM”
- A letter from Dan A. Turner, Brock Turner’s father
- A letter from Leslie Rassmussen, Brock Turner’s friend
These last two considerations, letters from Brock Turner’s father and friend are the third and fourth issues I take with this situation.
Dan A. Turner’s “Impossibly Offensive Defense of his Son”
I guess it’s not enough that Brock Turner continuously denied his actions, did not take responsibility for his actions, and did not apologize for his actions. It apparently is also not enough that his rape charges were dropped and he was only sentenced to 4% of the jail time he could have gotten – which is 4% too much, so he will appeal the sentence.
But no. On top of all of that. Brock Turner’s father
stupidly, affectionately, ignorantly, offensively attempted to publicly defend his son. You can read the full letter here, so I won’t go into detail. In this letter, Dan Turner talks about the damage the trial has done to his son, the trouble it’s put their family through…and the snacks he likes to eat.
I was always excited to buy him a big rib-eye steak to grill or to get his favourite snacks for him.
WAIT! He can’t be a rapist guys. He likes steak.
My favourite part, though, is when Dan Turner claims that the sentence Brock got is a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life”. To be fair, Dan Turner has since clarified that he meant 20 minutes of sexual assault – not 20 minutes of getting some tail. Well, that’s better!
I don’t know Brock Allen Turner. But the moment you take advantage of someone and then deny it and show no remorse is exactly the moment the world stops caring about your bright future and aspirations.
Leslie Rassmussen’s Ultimately Confusing Defense of Her Friend
Leslie Rasmussen has known Brock Turner longer than the people involved in this case. So naturally she’s more of an expert on sexual assault cases than the lawyers hired for the job.
“I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him.”
I’m just going to pretend that this is a grammatically sound sentence, written in the right vernacular for an honorary JUDGE. You know, Leslie, even though you started the next sentence with “I’m not blaming her”, that is actually exactly what you’re doing.
I’m also going to pretend that she didn’t attach a high school photo of the accused rapist explaining that the caption says “d’awwwww” because he’s a sweetheart.
“Where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists”
I guess I’m just a bit confused by this statement. I’m confused because political correctness has absolutely nothing to do with rape and sexual assault. I’m confused because if we are worrying about being politically correct every second of the day, but not worrying about rape victims, we’re really not worrying about the right things, at all.
I’m mostly confused, though, about how rape on campus could possibly not always be because people are rapists. Consensual sexual activity is called many things (e.g., sex, intercourse, coitus, hooking up, getting laid, banging). It is NEVER called rape. In fact, the term “rape” is reserved specifically and uniquely for NON-consensual sexual activity. In case you’re not convinced, here’s a definition from the Meriam Webster Dictionary:
Unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent
Look, I know I am a highly educated, highly privileged white female identifying as a feminist. I know you have likely already read many different news reports, Tweets, and Facebook posts about the Stanford Rape Case. I know you have your own opinions, and that maybe you agree with me and maybe you don’t. I know this was a very long post about a fiery topic that will fizzle out with time.
But did you know that 1 in 4 (25%) of North American Women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I have three best girl friends – together we make 4 North American Women. I know families with 4 North American daughters. I have a sister, and she has girl friends. I have a mother and aunts.
Did you know that males can be victimized too? In 2010, 1 in 8 (12% )of sexual assault victims in Canada were male. I have more than 8 male cousins. I have a dad and 7 uncles.
And did you know that 6 out of 100 (6%) of sexual assaults are not reported, with the number one reason for not reporting being the thought that no one would believe the victim?
Situations like the Stanford Rape Case demonstrate to the world that even if you do speak out, and even if you are believed, and even if the perpetrator is found to be guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” consequences may not exist.
And this is why I have to write about it.