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    • Heather Alani

    • October 11, 2016 in Columnists

    Rape Culture — it’s not a ‘thing’

    A case that began in January 2015 has recently resurfaced — the headlines furiously announced, “Stanford swimmer Brock Turner is a free man. Turner’s sentence of six months, has been dropped to three months, for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

    Turner, who was a Stanford freshman and Olympic hopeful, was caught sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on Stanford property. Reportedly, he claimed, ‘She liked it.'”

    The “golden Stanford boy” was inevitably deemed to be of higher quality than the young woman he violated that night back in 2015.  The outrageous original sentence of six months was enough to have the community in an uproar, yet seemingly, cutting that sentence in half was still permitted.  The newspapers back in 2015 stated, “Brock Turner’s six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an intoxicated unconscious woman on the Stanford campus is a setback for the campus rape movement to be taken seriously.” The young woman, who was not only sexually assaulted, but forced to defend whether or not she “liked” being assaulted, didn’t have enough ground to testify in her own defense, considering she was unconscious.

    rape-cultureHello? America? Judicial system? Why do I have to ask what’s wrong with this picture?

    Statistically, one in four women in this country are sexually assaulted every year. The number of reported cases and convicted offenders are much less than that number.  Women usually do not have to ask why that is — we know.  A woman who is sexually assaulted encounters disbelief first, humiliation, and is forced to undergo intrusive examinations to prove she’s telling the truth. I get it, some women have lied in the past, convicting innocent men.  Fine. However, the greatest slap in the face is not even the intrusive process after being intrusively sexually assaulted. Nope. That’s nothing compared to what happens if you were just so lucky to be assaulted by one of “America’s golden boys.”

    Imagine for a moment the horror of the young woman, when she discovered, by the newspaper, the details of the crime inflicted on her while she was unconscious. After all of the intrusive procedures she endured after she awoke confused from her unconscious state, she experienced the absolute horror of discovering she was found nearly naked with her legs wide open. The dirt and twigs that covered her hair from being dragged across the pavement by Turner were also found inside of her vagina.  Her so-called salvation came only after fellow students discovered Brock Turner “humping” her unconscious body. Yet, somehow, she “may” have liked the experience, as was pointed out by Turner in court.

    It was just a “boy being a boy,” right?

    As Turner sat in court, the testimonies from family pointed out what a “good” person Turner is. He is a Stanford swimmer, he gets good grades, and he has always been a shy boy, Turner’s mother’s stated.

    A real American golden boy all the way around, it seems.

    Except for one very big thing.  Brock Turner is a rapist.

    It was pointed out that the 22-year-old woman who was assaulted by Turner may be a “bad” person. Blame.

    She was sexually assaulted after passing out at a party by Turner, but the court wants to know “Why was she was drinking irresponsibly?”  Of course, naturally, women are responsible for the behaviors of the world, are we not? Really, it doesn’t matter what race we are, being a female suffices without fail.  The old saying, “Eve made me do it,” comes to mind.

    One up for Brock Turner — at least he is a male rapist. If we turned the tables on social class in this case, would he still be a “good” golden boy?  What if the victim was a wealthy upper class woman? Would Brock Turner be a rapist, then? What if the woman had assaulted Brock Turner — would she be a rapist?

    Blame. Culture and society plays a huge role in this case. The stratification of class divided the golden boy Turner into a classification that had access to resources and power to which the already powerless victim had no access. I guess if you have a social status to lose, you don’t have to spend the same amount of time in prison as those not lucky enough to have been born privileged.


    The problem is this: Americans think of social problems as “personal” issues, when they are not. They are public issues. This is a “we the people” issue. I wonder when “we” will fix this social issue. I wonder when “we” will realize that rape culture is not a “thing.” Rape is a serious crime. A crime that cannot be labeled. A crime that cannot be forgiven.

    The legal system is so corrupt at its base. What good is a trial by judge and jury, if you are unfortunate enough to be just a girl who was raped by an Olympic hopeful? The only way we will ever see a change is to change sociological concepts of the issue and stop making rapists a social issue, making it a thing, by calling it a culture. Stop slapping their hands and letting them go free.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • October 13, 2016 at 8:45 pm
      • Reply

      That picture tells the story. As long as women are responsible for preventing rape, rape culture will continue unabated. As a survivor, that makes me furious.

    • Our judicial system is a mystery to me. Sometimes it may be better to handle such things yourself instead of going to the law. If we want things done right, there are ways to handle these things without police, law, or the courts.

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