by Kiersten Hallie Krum
On Friday, Brock Allen Turner, convicted rapist on three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person–a conviction that brings with it a maximum sentence of 14 years–was sentenced to six months in a county jail followed by probation. The prosecutor recommended six years, but to avoid imposing a “severe impact” on the convicted rapist’s life–the convict rapist was, after all, an excellent swimmer on the Stanford swim team with visions of Olympic glory prior to raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, a crime for which he was convicted–the judge agreed with the probationary officers six month recommendation.
But that wasn’t enough for convict rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner. Oh no. He wrote a letter denouncing this six-month sentence–a sentence that means his son, convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner, will be out on the street in a few weeks–claiming that this whole crime and punishment journey has been quite the ordeal for convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner. According to convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner, these days, convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner is no longer his former “happy-go-lucky” self. Among other hardships, convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s diminished appetite means convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner can no longer even enjoy a rib-eye steak. My, that *is* some severe impact for convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s “serious actions”–a phrase used by convict rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner, to describe the sexual assault his son perpetrated on an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in the middle of the night. According to convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner, “20 minutes of serious action” are not enough reason for his son, convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner to have his entire life destroyed. Convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner, appears to be quite okay with the fact that those 20 minutes of “serious action” were more than enough to already destroy the life of convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s victim. Apparently, her life doesn’t hold as much value as that of convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner.
“He has never been violent to anyone including his actions the night of January 17, 2015,” writes convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner. Note how convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner, takes pains to include the actions of his son on the night of January 17th as part of his son’s apparent lifelong policy of nonviolence. Because finger raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster is so *gentle* an “action”.
I was unaware until I read the statement made by convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner, that punishment for a crime depended on the amount of time it took to commit that crime, like say for a convicted rapist to commit that rape against his unconscious victim. Do murderers get to argue that since it took only a few seconds to shoot or knife or garrote or whatever their victims, that they should therefore not have the remainder of their lives seriously impacted by serving a prolonged sentence after being convicted for their crimes? No, they do not. Neither should convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner.
What if she were your daughter, sir? What if it was your daughter who had been raped behind a dumpster while unconscious not only with a man’s fingers, but with other foreign objects lying around her? What if it was your daughter whose worth was so marginalized that her convicted rapist could have the consequences of his actions impact his life as little as possible. What would you say then, sir?
“I don’t want my body anymore,” she said. “I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
It’s a horror on top of tragedy to realize we’re now used to the fact that, in rape crime especially, the victim is the one on trial. Here, even after a unanimous conviction was declared against convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner, still it is the female victim whose pain and tragedy is being trivialized to defend a convicted rapist in order not to “severely impact” his life with a sentence that was already half of the maximum penalty. This mindset of our rape culture is so prevalent even the “respected” Washington Post seems to have taken careful pains with its headline for the story.
“You took away my worth”: A rape victim delivers “powerful” message to a former Stanford swimmer https://t.co/sw4KxFoo69
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 5, 2016
Note the quotations around powerful implying her statement may not actually be that and how the woman is described as “rape victim”–her entire identity tied to the sexual crime perpetuated against her–while convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner is identified by his university affiliation and his swimming accomplishments, NOT by the crime he committed against the amazing woman who has endured more than some “severe impact” against her life due to the criminal actions of one convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner.
I am angry. Angry for this inspiring, brave stranger, angry at a misogynist culture and justice system that thinks this laughable sentence for convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner is any kind of “justice.” Angry at the message it perpetuates to men–and particularly to college-aged men–that women are meat. That we hold little value. That our word is untrustworthy. That if we can’t audibly say no because we’re unconscious for whatever reason, then we lose all right to our bodies and ourselves and are fair game without consequence. That what we wear determines how we should be treated and/or whether we should be able to deny, or worse, be responsible for, a man’s sexual assault on our person. That even when a jury convicts a man of all three counts of sexual felony, that man may still skate relatively free with a trivial sentence so his life is not severely impacted for such little reason as this. I’m angry that it tells women that our bodies and our identities are worth less than a young man’s swimming times and Olympic potential.
These are the battles that have been waged and lost even after declaring victory. These are the warriors who have been defeated in their moments of triumph. This is the justice so many have seen slip through their fingers.
I’m angry–no, I’m infuriated–and, worse, I feel powerless–but I have a platform and I have a big voice and I will use it to call out these heinous people who hold a woman’s worth so cheaply. Don’t tell me we don’t live in a rape culture. Don’t tell me there isn’t a war against woman. Don’t you dare say to me not all men. I know my value. I know our value. The rest of the world will know it too.
I won’t try to summarize the powerful (yes, Washington Post, POWERFUL) words that this brave, brave lady stood up in a courtroom to deliver to convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner and his supporters after hearing that his conviction would result in less time spent in jail than it took to go to trial and convict him. I won’t detail how grievously her life was “impacted” or how little respect or value Judge Aaron Perksy and the probationary officer displayed for this courageous woman by refusing to give convicted rapist Brock Turner the sentence he was due. Instead, hear that courageous, inspirational lady speak through her own words in the statement she delivered to convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner at his sentencing. In yet another show of outstanding courage, she authorized BuzzFeed to publicize this statement–a post that has already receive more than four million views–so that other woman who have been raped and have found the courage to come forward and report their assaults (and those many, many others who haven’t) and even follow through through endless debasement and humiliation to see their rapists brought to trial and conviction only to have the rape culture that proliferates our society fail them yet again, so that those woman and more can know they are not alone. May her lighthouse shine here too on our platform so that others may see that light and follow it home.
Her statement is long. It will break your heart and it should. It is not a must read, but it must be read by everyone. She MUST be heard. It is only in this way that we have a prayer of ending this rape culture in which we women live every single day.
Shine on, brave lady. Shine on.
“To girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you.“
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Writer, singer editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel Wild on the Rocks is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.