This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A

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You know how sometimes you’ll read a story and think “there’s no way this could get any worse”, and you quickly find out how wrong you are? I’m talking about stories like the Jerry Sandusky rape case, the near five-dozen allegations of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment against Bill the rapist Cosby, or the deluge of shit that continues to spew forth from the Brock Turner rape case.

For those that don’t know about Brock Turner, he is a former Stanford University swimming star [<—useless information often mentioned in articles about the rapist] repugnant human being who was caught by two Swedish college students who witnessed the scumbag sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster back in January 2015. It’s clear that Turner didn’t have a problem with rape, as he didn’t stop his sexual assault until the two students saw him, at which point his guilty ass tried to run away. Thankfully the students decided not to be bystanders, and caught up to him, holding the fucker until police arrived. His case was tried in Palo Alto, California and presided over by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, a judge who looks outwardly human, but is actually the living manifestation of Rape Culture in human form. Despite a jury finding Brock guilty on three felony counts, Judge Persky decided to show the swimming sensation leniency in the form of a slap on the wrist. Technically, he gave him a six-month sentence in county jail and a three years’ probation, but given that Turner was convicted of THREE FUCKING FELONY COUNTS, that’s effectively a slap on the wrist. Needless to say, a metric fuckton of people were not happy. In fact, the decision to punish a rapist with the equivalent of going on summer break at the end of a school year has many people enraged. In the wake of that outrageously lenient sentencing, Judge Persky has faced a recall petition (which is supported by a law professor), has had potential jurors refuse to serve under him, and has actually been removed from a new sexual assault case (though not fully as a result of his tepid punishment for Turner). While these repercussions will have some degree of impact on the judge (some more than others), they don’t change the fact that he gave a pathetic sentence to Brock Turner.  Nor do I have any confidence they will lead to a greater understanding on the part of Judge Persky about why people are mad as hell at the sentence he gave Turner.

At this point, if there were nothing more to the story, it would be bad enough. After all, a woman experienced a vicious violation of her body by a rich, entitled male asshat who went on to receive a 3 month punishment (and not even in prison) by a fellow white dude whose biggest concern seemed to be worry over the “severe impact” a prolonged prison sentence might have on Turner. Decent human beings who read this horrific story might think the person to be concerned about ought to be the victim, Jane Doe. You know, the person who will have to live with this awful act being done to her? The person who will mostly likely feel the impact of this violation in some way or another for the rest of her life? Of course to feel that way about the victim, one must attempt to empathize with her, and unfortunately, the judge has decided to empathize instead with the rapist. Which actually  makes me give the judge a side-eye.


Interlude:

I have become aware that  under California law, Turner did not technically rape Jane Doe. California Rape Laws define an act as rape if there was nonconsensual sexual intercourse. In the case of Brock Turner, he was found guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. In my opinion, California needs to update their rape laws to reflect the definition of rape as utilized by the FBI:

“Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

The FBI definition of rape covers the type of sexual assault Jane Doe endured at the hands of Brock Turner (digital penetration). To my mind, there is little difference between someone willing to nonconsensually penetrate someone with their fingers vs someone willing to nonconsensually penetrate someone with a sex organ. It’s still an incredibly invasive violation of the body of another person, and I fail to see why a distinction ought to be made between fingers vs a penis.

End Interlude.


As I said, at this point, things were pretty fucking awful. We’re ankle-deep in fuckery at the moment, bc the more we learn about the case, the more awful it becomes. Not for the victim thankfully, but for the case itself. See, during the course of the court proceedings, Brock Turner’s father wrote a letter in defense of his son. It reads, in part:

As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His ever waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.

What’s missing from this segment, as well as the rest of the letter is one fifth of a tenth of an ounce of concern and compassion for the victim. Turner’s father is more concerned that his son is not eating his favorite meals. He’s concerned that the verdicts have broken him. WHAT ABOUT HOW HIS ACTIONS IMPACTED HIS VICTIM? What about her favorite foods? What about showing an ounce of concern for how her life has been irrevocably altered by your son’s actions? And for the sake of all the nonexistent gods in the heavens, it was not 20 minutes of action. It was 20 minutes of RAPE. Your son raped a woman, and you clearly don’t have a shred of compassion to spare for her. In fact, you’re painting your son as the victim here. That’s vile.

Think that’s the worst it gets? You’d be wrong, bc a childhood classmate of Turner’s *also* submitted a letter during the course of the trial. The letter, by Leslie Rasmussen (drummer for the band Good English) is rape apologetics on steroids:

I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But 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.

Looks like the FBI is going to have to redefine rape now, bc apparently rape happens but somehow it isn’t caused by rapists. How this is supposed to work is beyond me. What are rapes caused by quantum fluctuations in the space-time continuum? FFS, how can anyone with a shred of sense think that rape is caused by anything other than rapists?!

After reading such defenses of Brock Turner, such attempts at humanizing him (which, I’ll grudgingly admit is the point of these letters) in the face of his vicious assault on Jane Doe, one could be forgiven for thinking this is the worst that it gets.

One would be wrong.

I was going to present to you the Brock Turner Family Support page on Facebook, which, over the course of the last several days, I’d commented on several times. Many, many other people had as well. I do not know who was running the page. It may have been friends or family or just someone who was a rapist sympathizer (and how awful is it to say those words). One thing it was not, however, was satire. There was nothing humorous about the page. The creators of that page engaged in the most disgusting rape apologetics, from claiming that Jane Doe was lying to saying she was a coward for not coming forward to directly speak to her assailant (in reality, she *did* confront him-with this letter she read to him in court; the letter is long and contains many details that readers may find disconcerting or triggering). But in the time it has taken me to compose this post, the page appears to have been taken down. Even the notifications I received for new comments on the page have disappeared.  I imagine the vast number of complaints the page received (there were thousands of comments from people on each post, and while I didn’t read all of them, they almost universally expressed condemnation of Turner himself, as well as the page) lead to it being taken down, though I’m not for certain. Needless to say, reading the posts on that page made me want to vomit.  Unfortunately, the posts supporting Turner were not the only problems I discovered on that page. As with many discussions of rape (whether in meatspace or online), there are always people who propose rape as a punishment. I actually read one of the most repugnant comments on the BTFS page from someone who seemingly was outraged at the page and Turner’s actions, but said that not only should Turner have been punished more severely, he should be raped in prison, and worse, that his sister should be raped.

The whole point of opposing rape *ought* to be on the grounds that it is a violation of the bodily integrity of an individual and that is a right *everyone* possesses. You cannot logically oppose rape (on the grounds that it is wrong) in cases where the victim is someone you sympathize with while simultaneously supporting rape in cases where the victim is someone you despise. You’re not actually opposing rape. You’re selectively deciding when it is appropriate and when it isn’t, which is saying in effect that sometimes rape is acceptable.
To which I say: NO NO NO NO. RAPE IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE. It should not be used as a punishment and should not be suggested as a punishment. Those who make statements of this kind help to perpetuate Rape Culture. Between the Brock Turner case, it’s ramifications, the support page, and the people arguing that a rapist should be raped, this is all part of Exhibit A for the existence of Rape Culture. This case is one that people can point to and say “Don’t believe in Rape Culture, asshat? Here!”

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This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A
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One thought on “This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A

  1. 1

    The most severe part of the sentence is that Brock will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, or as long as he stays in the U.S.

    One morning while I was at work a man called and wanted to know how he could have a conviction for sexual battery removed from his record (he can’t). How he got the number for my office I have no idea, but he wanted to talk and I wasn’t busy, so I learned a little bit about the implications of being a registered sex offender. Brock will not be able to hold a good job, because if he admits to his conviction in his application he won’t get the job, and if he doesn’t he’ll be fired for lying on his application. In some areas, there will be restrictions on where he can live (not too close to a school, a preschool, or a daycare center), and in Ohio, when he moves, people near where he lives will get a postcard informing them of his status.

    The lifetime part of his sentence is still not as bad as the effects on Ms. Doe, but it’s good to know that Brock will never be able to forget that he is a convicted sex offender, and the people around him will always know.

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