I just had a conversation with my sister, Genny, about the Stanford rape case, you know, the one that won't get off your Facebook newsfeed. To briefly summarize, Brock Turner, a student-athlete at Stanford University, was dealt a mild three-month sentence after being found guilty of raping a young woman.
I was up all night, furiously reading every detail in the case, trying to understand how something like this could have happened. The judge, Aaron Persky, was a student-athlete when he attended Stanford, which made his decision to give Turner such a light sentencing more understandable (Turner will be released after three months in jail). Turner's long-time friend penned a letter that implored people to stop painting her friend in the light of a rapist. She says that she knows for a "fact" that her friend is incapable of rape because he isn't one of those guys who jump out of you in the middle of the night with a knife to take away your virtue. I mean, she's right. If I saw him walking down the street, the word rapist wouldn't be at the forefront of my mind.
Nevertheless, I still can't help ask the question of "What does a rapist look like?" Personally, I think of Benedict Cumberbatch's rapist character in Atonement. His eyebrows just look rapey, nothing like dear Brock Turner's baby face. Most everyone can easily agree that the friend didn't do herself a lot of good with a letter because it's pretty obvious that looks don't indicate likelihood to crime (see: Anthony Perkins in Psycho).
What people are getting upset about is the letter Turner's father wrote to Persky, pleading for mercy that "20 minutes of action" won't ruin his son's life. Twenty minutes. What can someone do in twenty minutes? They can behead a child, rob a band for millions, lie under oath about not sleeping with someone, drunkenly crash into a family of four, and, let's not forget, rape someone until they have lacerations in their vagina. What on earth does time have to do with it? People don't get 20 minutes to do whatever they want in the hopes that it won't have any consequences. Contrary to whatever world you live in, this is not The Purge. What was upsetting is that my sister sympathized with the father. While she agrees Brock is a rapist (which is good since he didn't), she could not help but argue that if the victim hadn't been drinking, none of this would have happened. And that is the statement I want to address: If women stopped putting themselves in positions to get raped, they won't get raped.
I want to first say that if the victim had stayed the night she was attacked or decided to not drink alcohol, there is a strong chance Brock have flirted with a different drunk stranger and ended up in the same position, with a rape victim. The victim wasn't marked for rape that night. The rapist chose a victim (at the time he met her, he might have not been thinking he was going to have sex with her unconscious body, but his actions were still a choice nonetheless). If we take this scenario to a broader scale, every woman in the world would have to remain sober and awake at all times so that men cannot rape them. Women aren't marked for rape. But according to everyone, they ask for it. So every woman would have to stop "asking for it" so that men could stop committing crimes.
Pointing out and correcting what the victim did wrong is a lot easier to do for the victim and not the rapist. "She shouldn't have been drinking." "She shouldn't have gone to a party where she didn't know that many people." "She shouldn't have gone out looking like that." Boom. Problem solved. If she had done one of those things, this whole headache never would have happened. But, why is no one pointing out what Brock did wrong? Why is saying "boys should stop drinking so they stop raping girls" not the most overused line like it is for women? Maybe it's because people don't truly believe that sobriety will stop men from raping others. And that is scary. We can dissect and analyze the victims all we want, but that doesn't change the fact that 99% of rapists are men.
Perhaps it seems naive to ask people to change the way they talk and think about rape, but seeing as I have witnessed this destructive attitude towards victims first hand, I find it worth fighting for a change--though it could easily be a forgotten case in a week's time.