Brock Turner’s name has been making its due rounds on the media circuit as of late.
For those of you that don’t know already, he’s a Stanford University swimmer who was accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus grounds during the early hours of January 18, 2015.
On June 2nd, 2016, Turner was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault and was, in turn, sentenced to six months in jail followed by a three-year probation.
Yes, I know. It’s fucking ridiculous.
While the articles and stories focus on Turner and his victim, the outcome of the trial sets the stage for a deeply frightening look into how the American justice system responds to rape and sexual assault.
The first visual representation I saw surrounding this case was a picture of a baby-faced, white male with a smile on his face.
I’ll say it again: It was a baby-faced, white male with a smile on his face.
It’s nowhere near a mugshot, which most definitely should have been taken when he was arrested for the crime. Instead, it’s a picture of him that was seemingly cut out from his high school yearbook. *UPDATE: After 18 months, Turner’s mugshot was released almost immediately after this post was published*
It reminded me of Peyton Manning’s sexual assault case that was revealed in full detail earlier in the year via Shaun King of New York Daily News.
Although these two cases are wildly different in many ways, they both have the same premise: A rich, white, male athlete is accused of sexual assault and knowingly uses his wealth and privilege to lie and smear his way out of the allegations.
For Manning, it worked. He went on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL and wound up winning two Super Bowls and five MVP awards.
If you Google search Manning today, King’s article will be the third to last link available.
How can that be? Shouldn’t the documents revealing Manning’s allegations and the way he and his legal team ruined a young woman and her bright career be the very first thing we see?
Instead, we’re presented with links to how President Obama and the Denver Broncos had a grand ‘ole time at the White House, celebrating their victory over the Carolina Panthers. We get his hall of fame career statistics and a picture of him holding a pizza. But the most disturbing part is the pictures that pop up on the right side of the screen. They’re eerily similar to Turner’s, if not fast-forwarded about 20 years.
Manning’s legacy lives on and will continue to live on, with barely a dent to his name.
On the other hand, we have Turner. Although he was sentenced to six months in jail, he’ll most likely serve three.
So, no, he won’t turn out like Manning.
His swimming scholarship has been stripped. His Olympic bid is now out the window. He has to register as a sex offender and will live with that title for the rest of his life.
And in terms of justice, it’s not enough.
Turner won. And he won big time.
If Turner was anything other than white, it would have taken a miracle for the defense team to reduce the sentencing down to 90 days.
I am appalled at the judge presiding over this trial. Before his gavel came down to seal the sweet deal for the defense, he states that Turner “will not be a danger to others” and that he thinks “a prison sentence will have a severe impact on him.”
Fucking hell, you have got to be kidding me.
Turner is a danger to others. This is a fact. Not an opinion
All it took was alcohol for him to act recklessly on that fateful night. To put bruises on the insides of her thighs. To put pine needles in the back of her head. To leave her elbows and hands scratched and bloody.
To rape a woman.
He left his victim crippled in her own bed, inside her own home, not being able to sleep during the night out of fear of waking up in a hospital, with no underwear, wondering what in the hell happened.
Turner deserves to be in prison.
But time and time again, America shows us that if you are wealthy, white and/or a star athlete, you will fare much better in court opposed to a person of color whose family has gone through generations of poverty.
And to take it a step further, the justice system tells us that if you have a penis, your words are much more valuable compared to someone who doesn’t.
If there was any sort of debate as to whether male/jock/white privilege exists in America, it ends here.
Also, to the American criminal justice system: take this fucking L.
Fighting Rape Culture is an Uphill Battle
The silencing of the victim in this case screams louder than anything else and we need to be aware of it.
The defense team’s biggest argument was that because the victim was unconscious, Turner’s statement on what transpired is the only account in which the jury should be allowed to believe.
And as expected, Turner then put words of consent in the victims mouth. His statement had her motionless body come alive, claiming that she liked it because, while unconscious, her arms somehow rubbed his back.
Turner’s team of lawyers created a series of maze-like questions, hoping that she’d get lost amidst the stress and anxiety that surrounded her and her family.
This is an insult to American society as a whole. Not just to women, not just to the victim, but all of America itself.
Women are livid and they have every right to be.
But so should men.
This is as important an issue as any and men should be losing sleep over it. We should wonder and question and shed ugly tears and punch pillows and drive to secluded areas and scream our heads off out of frustration.
We have to realize that there is a winner in this situation and that winner is Turner. We have to realize that while this case made national headlines there are hundreds and thousands of other cases where vile human beings get off scot-free. We must keep in mind that because of cases like this, women are afraid to speak up when they are sexually assaulted, whether it’s at home or in the workplace, whether it’s on a bus or on “Scary Path” near the Stanford campus.
It’s not the first time a case like this has made headlines all over the country. It happened in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. It happened in Missoula, Montana. It happened yesterday and it will happen tomorrow.
And it begs the question: Is reporting sexual assault worth it for women?
To All Sexual Assault Victims
As a 23-year-old, Korean-American male, I am with you. I hope you hear the sincerity of my words through this screen when I say that I am truly sorry. I am sorry that us men continue to fail our better halves. I am sorry that we continue to take your innocence and try to lie and smear our way out of it when we are caught.
Nothing you did made you deserved of what happened. It is not because of your mannerisms. It is not because of the way you dress. It is not because of the way you made eye contact with us during that party. It is not because you drink too much alcohol. It is not because you didn’t reject us hard enough. It is not because you enjoy sex just as much as we do. It is not because you cuss. It is not because you smoke weed. It is not because you wear yoga pants. It is not because you work out too much. It is not because you are a freshman. It is not because you wear thongs. It is not because you wear tight jeans. It is not because you are flirty.
It is not because you decided to go out with your younger sister. It is not because your boyfriend lives on the other side of the country. It is not because you rubbed our backs.
It is not because you were unconscious.
It is us and our inability to control our selfish desires. It is us who see you as objects of pleasure. It is us who drank too much. It is us who think we are invincible. It is us that think all women want us. It is us that don’t know what the word “no” truly means.
It is our sense of entitlement.
It is our male privilege.
On behalf of “us,” I apologize, from the deepest depths of my heart.
I see beauty in your tears. I see strength in the way you stand. I see grace in the way you address your rapists. I see poise amidst the chaos. I see elegance in the way you get back to your life. I see courage in the way you force yourself to sleep every night, knowing you’ll have to relive that nightmare over and over again.
You are beautiful and you are loved. You have people behind you. They are rooting for you. So please, don’t let us get in the way of your happiness and the amazing life you were destined to have.
And thank you. Thank you for embodying the very best of the human spirit in such harsh and cruel times. Thank you for showing us what true courage looks like. Thank you for fighting and climbing and clawing through this never-ending, uphill battle.
If there is anyone that can get through this, it is you.
Of this, I have no doubt.
With much love and respect,
P.S. if you haven’t already, please read the victim’s statement addressing her rapist. It is one of the most important things I have ever read as a man, as a son, as a future father and as a human being.