TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST IS ABOUT RAPE, RAPE CULTURE, AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
There are few things that make my blood boil, make me feel filled with rage and despair. Injustice, violation of human rights, any harm or hurt caused to a living creature. Yep, those things will make me feel like crying, vomiting and punching a wall at the same time. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there seems to be an endless stream of horrible crimes and incidents and tragedies.
Most recently, I have felt very angry about the Stanford University rape case that has been dominating social media. I’ve spent the last few days marvelling at the pathetic excuse for a punishment the perpetrator has been given. And tonight, I felt my insides contort in anger when I read that this young man, a person who has shown no remorse or feels any responsibility for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, has had his “sentence” reduced to four months. Four months in prison. What a joke.
Sadly, this ‘Emily Doe’ – whose name has not been released in order to protect the woman’s privacy – is just one case out of hundreds of thousands around the world. Did you know that in New Zealand, “up to 1 in 3 girls will be subject to an unwanted sexual experience by the age of 16 years” and “up to 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault as an adult“? That in the United States, “an American is assaulted every two minutes“? What’s more, only 9% of sexual violence cases are reported to the police in NZ, and in the U.S., only 2% of rapists serve time for their actions. These stats make me feel queasy. It’s horrible.
I don’t really know what I want to say in this post. I don’t have some big message that will somehow end rape culture, and the problem of rape itself. I wish more than anything that I did have something earth-shattering to say, and a magic wand that would end this problem. But I don’t.
What I can say is this. Excuses about why rape happens are not okay. It is NEVER the victim’s fault. I don’t care if she was wearing a nun’s habit or a bikini, clothing is not a factor. End of. In the same way that nobody is EVER “asking for it”. Those words need to be wiped from the world’s vocabulary, because every time I hear or see them in another rape case, I am in sheer disbelief that anybody could possibly blame a victim for something so horrible. In this article, which discusses the recent Stanford University case, the author sums it up so perfectly:
“In fact, it’s hard to think of a single crime besides sexual crimes where the same yardstick applies. Nobody ever asks someone who’s robbed if they ‘asked for it’, ‘provoked it’ and if they ‘shouldn’t have been cautious’. Why the hypocrisy when it comes to rape and harassment whose base is also plain physical violence and lack of consent?”
Now let’s move onto alcohol. Sure, alcohol lowers inhibitions. I almost got a tattoo once when I was drunk. If I had, it would have been my fault. Why? Because it was my choice. Yes, I was a few drinks in. But that doesn’t remove my brain from my head. It doesn’t rob me of taking responsibility of my actions. Because they’re my actions. Nobody else’s. Alcohol didn’t decide to (almost) get a tattoo. In the same way that in this case, alcohol didn’t rape Emily Doe. Brock Turner raped Emily Doe. Because alcohol doesn’t rape people, people rape people. It’s as simple as that. There is no excuse that can ever make that different. Rape culture. It’s disgusting. And what’s worse is that we shouldn’t have to end something like this, it shouldn’t even exist in the first place. How sad that we’ve reached a point in the world where we have to fight against people who use these lines and perpetuate this terrible, terrible culture.
For Emily Doe, I feel overwhelming empathy, compassion and sadness. Sadness that this man has robbed her of herself, her dignity, and tarnished her life. But what makes me even sadder is when I think about how many millions of people around the world are raped. If it’s every two minutes in the US, it must be more like a number of seconds worldwide. That itself is just horrible.
With these sickeningly high statistics of sexual assault, people wonder why more victims don’t report their rapes. They can stop wondering. All they need to do is look at the news, and you’ll see countless stories just like Emily Doe’s in which the rapist is serving an appallingly short sentence. Or getting away with it completely.
4 months. That’s the price Brock Turner is paying for his actions. I’m almost 100% sure that Emily Doe is going to be affected by this for much longer than 4 months.
Rape culture needs to end. Blaming the victim, making excuses like alcohol and claiming that the victim consented, that bullshit needs to be done away with. Because there is no excuse. And in order to address the problem of rape, society need to stop making it okay. Stop giving the rapists free passes or empathising with how their promising futures are being destroyed. What society is destroying is more important, more precious than promising futures. Every comment that perpetuates rape culture, every rapists who walks free, every single moment in cases like this one, all of it adds up and drops a bomb on humanity, on innocent people, and on our world. And I’m so sick of it.