Friday, June 10, 2016

Standing with the Stanford Survivor

By now you know about the Stanford rape case in which Brock Turner received a mere six month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. While debating about whether or not to address this, I thought "does the world really need another article/blog post about this heinous injustice?" And then I decided that really, there can't be too many. If people don't want to read this one, that's fine. But my hope is that everyone has read something about this and feels as angry (and sad) as I do.

I'm not going to rehash the details of the case, or of the statements made by the victim (who is one of the bravest people ever, in my opinion) and the perpetrator's father (who is ballsy but I wouldn't equate that with being brave). But I have a few thoughts that I want to share.

There's been a lot of outcry about how the media initially used a pretty yearbook picture of Turner instead of his mugshot and that they described him as an "athlete" instead of "rapist." While I agree with that objection I also think, go ahead and use a clean cut picture. Go ahead and call him a former Olympic hopeful. Make sure people see that rapists can look like the guy next door. They can seem like "everybody's all-American."

I'm not a parent, and I have no idea how I'd handle this as a parent. I hope I would encourage my daughter to be strong and confident, and also smart about situations she finds herself in.
I hope I'd reiterate to my son that no means no. And as my friend Christine wrote on Facebook, "anything less than an enthusiastic yes is a no." And while I can't believe it's necessary to say this, unconscious means NO.

It's still so infuriating that women are treated as second-class citizens when it comes to sexual assault. In the "he said / she said" scenarios, her word doesn't carry as much weight as his. In this particular case, the survivor has been traumatized for life, yet Judge Aaron Persky felt that jail time would have a "severe impact" on Brock Turner.


As I said earlier, there have been multitudes of blog posts and letters and articles about the Stanford case. I'll share two of them here, both written by people I personally know.

One is by Steph, whom most of you should know by now, and if you don't know her or of her, know that she is a fierce feminist and in this particular post, she's pissed off.

Rape is never, ever, EVER the victim's fault, regardless of what she did or didn't do, what she wore, how she acted. Her life is never less important than her attacker's regardless of what station in life either of them occupies.  ~ Life According to Steph

If you're looking for a softer approach, check out this article by Marty, a college classmate of mine who is a Lutheran minister.

  • When we compliment boys on their brains and girls on their appearance, we make Brock Turner possible.
  • When we warn female college students to take precautions against drunken fraternity brothers (instead of educating those frat boys on the true meaning of the words “mutual consent”), we make Brock Turner possible.
  • When we encourage our sons to enjoy their sexuality and shame our daughters for doing the same, we make Brock Turner possible. 
~ Martin Zimmann on the Living Lutheran website 

And a bonus excerpt from my friend Candy's Facebook post:

We have to be angry about more than one man, just because we happen to know his name. We have to be talking to our sons. We have to be talking to our partners. We have to be looking at the records of our judges when we vote. We have to be listening to our daughters. We have to be supporting the victims, wrapping ourselves around them the way we wish we could have that night.
Do not let your outrage be about one man. Let it be something that changes you, the way you speak, the way you care for others. The victim in this case has said that for right now, she prefers to remain anonymous so that she can be every woman. Let this be about every woman. Let your outrage merge with compassion and fuel something greater than one small man.

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