Two Bikes

John Loo_FlickrMy fifteen year old daughter helped contribute to this blog, which makes me grateful and sad. The topic is the one on many people’s minds – Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, tried to run away when caught at it, then tried to paint the assault as consensual. He was convicted of three felonies, which could have put him in jail for 14 years. Instead he got a six month sentence because, to boil down what seems to be the judge’s take on it, he’s a young guy who’s a good kid despite it all, and jail might be too tough for him. Some in the media have taken the same approach.

And yet he’s a convicted felon.

This morning my girl and I talked a lot about the case, the legal defense of the rapist, the courage of the woman who was assaulted, and how people across the world are responding. “Did you see this one?” we would ask each other. Oh how grateful I am that we had a complicated conversation about rape culture, white privilege, male privilege, consent, sexism and denial.

It was rewarding to have this complex discussion with my girl, who is wise in her analysis. It was sad because this case is just one of way too many. We can talk about these issues until we’re blue in the face and that still won’t fully protect my daughter, my niece, anyone, should a man determine they are going to have sex with her without consent.  My girl and I agreed we need to talk about this stuff; she wants to talk with her friends to raise awareness about the issues and change rape culture.

So let’s turn to the good stuff my girl and I shared.

The vitally important comment on this case is from the victim herself. Her impact statement is going viral, and hooray for that. Her words are insightful, authentic, chilling and yet hopeful. If you read no further here, please read her words.

Turn to the disgusted response to the letter of Turner’s father. In a plea for leniency, said father noted that his son shouldn’t see jail time for “20 minutes of action,” a phrase that has lit up the web.  Alexandra Ozeri’s writing “fixed” the letter  to say what the son’s actions really were, rather than the picture the dad tries to paint. Jon Pavlovitz wrote Turner Senior father-to-father, giving him persepective on being a decent parent. Turn to the response to another one of Brock Turner’s supporters, who suggests he couldn’t be a rapist, illustrating many stereotypes about rape culture.

About a minute after I found it, my daughter called from the other room, “Mom did you see the Facebook post from Matt Lang? Use that!” (He’s given permission to share). Just in case Matt removes his post at some point, here’s the gist-

“I’ve been drunk many times, even in the presence of promiscuous women who were also drunk, and I managed not to rape them, so I don’t think drinking and promiscuity are the problems. This here is the problem: some guys are entitled p***** … because their fathers and coaches and friends taught them to be.  Brock Turner and his ilk… were taught that they can have what they want, when they want, including women. And that’s called being a man.”

Reflecting on the victim’s powerful impact statement, Jessica Valenti writes, “Her statement is a damning indictment of a culture that bends over backwards to humanize rapists while demonizing their victims.”

Yes. Painfully, yes.

But there is hope; the victim herself talks about it. She concludes her victim impact statement by acknowledging the strangers that saved her and continue to do so, as she progresses with gaining strength and perspective.

“Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me. Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.”

 

Janet   |   @janet_madsen

Image: John Loo, Flickr (Creative Commons)
This blog represents the ideas of individual writers, and does not necessarily reflect any formal stance taken by Positive Women's Network. Read our comments policy.

Youshouldknow.ca: Sexual health science, culture and news for women edging to middle age, parents and educators. Info on sexually transmitted infections, relationship dynamics, aging and sexual health, and sex education.

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