Last night I couldn’t sleep.
Last night I tossed and turned, and sleep was so far from my mind I don’t know why I bothered going to bed at all.
Because a few hours beforehand I read the letter of a very brave woman in which she read to her rapist of how deeply she was affected by his actions. I encourage everyone do read this letter, those extremely raw, honest, violent and courageous words should be read by everyone to fully understand the severe impact of sexual assault, because apparently, society still doesn’t get it.
In this particular case the young man was found guilty and yet given a very lenient sentence of 6 months in prison because the judge didn’t want to impact his life too much. The maximum sentence for the crime is 14 years, but he got 6 months. You see, he had a bright future. He was a swimmer, who had been offered a scholarship. He was still a young man with his whole life in front of him.
And the victim?
Well, she was just that. A victim of this case of bad judgement. A victim of life. A girl who had to prove she was a victim even after he had been caught assaulting her.
As I tossed and turned last night going over everything in my head it finally hit me. Like a bang of unexpected thunder. It hit me so hard I jolted up in disbelief. Why this and so many other rape cases are so unjust and hypocritical. It’s the same with nearly every college rape case: Fucking alcohol.
Alcohol is both the culprit and the get out of jail nearly Scott free card.
For men who assault women it was alcohol that made them use ‘bad judgement’ or act in ways they wouldn’t normally act. For men, they are sorry they drank too much and misread a situation. For men, they had no idea she was unconscious because they too were so drunk they didn’t know which way was up. They are the victims of alcohol.
But for women? For women, it condemns them. It makes them at fault. It turns them from victim to instigator. It makes their actions, their testimony, their words and tears all called into question, it makes them the culprit. The culprit that ruined a young mans bright future. Because that’s what matters. His future.
Even after a jury found Brock Turner guilty on three charges, people still questioned the authenticity of the rape allegation. Except it wasn’t an allegation at all. He was caught in the act, he was seen assaulting a very unconscious women who was so unconscious she didn’t wake up until 3 hours after the fact, completely oblivious to where she was and what had happened. He was seen running from the scene and was chased down but because alcohol was involved people still questioned whether there was consent or not. But we are apparently forgetting that he ran from the unconscious woman when approached. Why on earth would anybody run if they truly believed they were doing nothing wrong? If this was honestly a case of two people drunk and fooling around then why would he run? His words that his “intentions were not to try and rape a girl without her consent” mean nothing when that is exactly what he was found doing. Even if she had given consent at the beginning, the second she became unconscious that consent should have become void. But it didn’t. And yet, there he was pleading not guilty, denying that it was assault.
“Of course Turner made some terrible mistakes, but I will always wonder if consent happened or not.” Words spoken by a man on local tv about the case. A man who believes that if alcohol is involved than the rapist made a mistake, and the victim can’t be trusted. A man who represents how society treats women in cases of sexual assault.
It’s always, always their fault.
Even if the rapist is caught in the act.
Alcohol cannot simultaneously be used to excuse a rapist but condemn a victim, and yet it is. It cannot be used to excuse the actions of a man who assaults a woman, unconscious or otherwise.
Alcohol didn’t turn you into a bad person, you are just an asshole to begin with.
Alcohol didn’t make you rape someone. You were a rapist already.
Alcohol didn’t cause you to make the bad decision of touching a woman who didn’t, who couldn’t give consent. You already thought you had a right to her body, you already thought you had a right to control her, to ruin her bright future, because you felt you had the power to do so.
Alcohol may simply have made you believe you’d get away with it.
But then you kind of already have. Because society still blames the victim, the woman, the abused, the mistreated, the controlled, the intoxicated woman. Society still accepts alcohol as an excuse for the deplorable actions of young men with bright futures while it demonizes women for causing such trauma, such drama.
The judge ruled that 6 months was adequate for the young mans crime based on the opinion that “I think he will not be a danger to others”. And what, pray tell, is that opinion based on? The fact that he is a young man with a bright future? The fact that he has no previous convictions? Well guess what, he was a very serious danger to that young woman. First time rape is still rape. He has committed a serious crime. He needs to be punished with more than a mere slap on the wrist. Lets not forget that he had already admitted to sexually fondling her, thus admitting to sexual assault because as we all know she was…
An unconscious woman cannot give consent. Can we please all just get that once and for all. Is anybody else as sick of having to say this as I am? Of having to explain this so much? Because…fuck…what the hell? It is so blatantly obvious. And it still took the jury nearly two days to deliberate this. Two days. Let that sink in.
Even though he was caught in the act.
With an unconscious woman.
Sexually assaulting her.
Our problem as a society is that we are so worried about affecting the life of a young man that we are unwilling to punish them adequately enough. The rapists’ future should not have more impact than the victims life. The rapists future should not be used as a term of reference for how we punish them. The rapists future is not worth more than the impact they have on the women they abuse. We are so ready to take the excuse of ‘alcohol made me do it’, ‘alcohol impaired my judgement’ and ‘I drank too much’ when we simultaneously blame victims for being too drunk, intoxicated, unable to remember the exact events. Whats wrong with these situations is that we are accepting alcohol as the problem, instead of the very real problem of male privilege. We are willing to blame something other than the actual problem. Instead of teaching women to be safe at college parties, how much alcohol to consume and how to behave we should be teaching boys that there are very real fucking consequences to sexual assault of any kind. That they do not have a right to the female body. That they will face harsh punishment if they don’t respect the rules of consent.
6 months is not adequate punishment for sexual assault. And using the ‘its his first offense’ as a way of justifying it means that first time rapists have a get out of jail free card. First time or not….rape is rape. Assault is assault. Consent is consent. It is that simple.
But if you still don’t get it, here’s a helpful little link to a very helpful little video:
Since the release of the victim impact statement, those words which were so powerfully eloquent and violent, it seems Brock Turners father has released a statement attempted to not only humanize his son, but defend him. In his extremely short and not very thought out statement he speaks of how his son is now “consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression”, of how “He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile” and how “his life will never be one that he dreamed about” all because of “20 minutes of action“. If any of these words seem familiar to you, its because they reflect that of a victim, someone who is being mistreated, not a rapist.
His attempts at humanizing his son are done by telling us how his son loved food…?! and now only eats to exist. That’s the depth of his despair, he doesn’t enjoy rib eye steaks anymore. Well folks. We truly have wronged a young man, because compared to the impact he had on the actual victim, not being able to enjoy food anymore is truly horrific.
His fathers words reflect the attitude that again blames alcohol for his sons deplorable “actions”. He clearly states that his son i committed to teaching others about “alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity” when neither of these are related to the case. Sexual promiscuity is a term associated largely with female sexuality, giving the impression that Mr Turner too blames the victim for his son’s “20 minutes of action”. This is what rape culture looks like people. Its a father who even after hearing the evidence, the verdict, the letter from the actual victim in the case and the far too lenient judgement, still questions who is at fault, still believes his son is a victim and being unfairly treated. Failing to use the correct term of sexual assault proves that, instead opting for “20 minutes of action” which diminishes completely the severity of what his son did. I was amazed that Brock Turner never acknowledged his attack for what it was, but after hearing his fathers statement, it makes sense. They both believe that the real victim is Brock. They both believe that alcohol and sexual promiscuity are at fault when in reality they are far from the problem, rape culture and male privilege, they are the real problems.