14 Reasons The Brock Turner Rape Case Is More Important Than You Think

Unless you’ve been in bed sleeping for the last few days, I’m assuming you’ve heard at least a little something about the Brock Turner rape case. Here’s a quick rundown: in January 2015, Brock Turner, a 20-year-old Stanford University student, was found sexually assaulting an unconscious young woman on campus. In March, he was convicted of the “intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.” A few days ago, Brock got his sentencing: a six month jail sentence. 

Yes, you read that correct: a man convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious young woman was given only six months in jail, despite the fact that prosecutors were asking for a six year sentence. Despite the fact that he ruined a young woman’s life, he was given only six months in jail. Despite the fact that young men his age have been given longer sentences for something like selling marijuana. Despite the fact that his case got a lot of attention from the beginning, and that he never showed any remorse for what he did, and that, in fact, he tried to push the blame off of himself. Six months in prison. Six months1

If you aren’t full of anger and rage in hearing that story, then allow me to explain why you should be. The Brock Turner rape case is about more than just an unfair sentencing. It’s about sexism, rape culture, racism, privilege, and almost everything that is wrong with America. It is something that has ignited intense feelings in hundreds of thousands of people who can’t believe that in 2016, someone can still get away with a sentencing this small for raping a woman.

The Brock Turner rape case is more important than you think, and if you’re not paying attention, you need to. Here’s why:

1. It’s a perfect example of victim blaming.

brock-turner-father-letter

There are so many things about this case that scream “VICTIM BLAMING.” One of the defenses for Brock’s actions were that binge drinking was involved. Drinking doesn’t excuse rape or assault of any kind. The implication is that this girl could have avoided being raped if she wasn’t drinking, but that’s not okay – the rape could have been avoided if Brock didn’t rape her.

Another example is the letter Brock’s father wrote for the court in defense of his son. If you haven’t read it yet, you should read it – on an empty stomach, though, because it’s disgusting. He wrote, “This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” 20 minutes of action. Don’t you mean 20 minutes of rape? Let’s remember two other things: One, Brock did this to himself and I in no way feel sorry for him. Two, his “steep price to pay” is six months in jail, a sentencing so pathetic it makes me feel embarrassed about our justice system.

That letter, along with the focus on how much the victim drank, is a perfect example of victim blaming, which is so prevalent in today’s world that it makes me feel sick. Let’s get one thing straight: in any rape case, it is never the victim’s fault. So can we please stop acting like it is?

 

2. It is basically rape culture defined.

This entire case should be in the dictionary under “rape culture.” Rape culture refers to the way some people try to excuse rape (including victim blaming), the way people dismiss it, the way people try to act like it isn’t a huge issue. The short sentencing, some of the media coverage (more on that in a minute), and the overall tone of this case show us how rape culture is alive and well, and it needs to stop. If we all took sexual assault as seriously as it should be taken, convicted rapists and sexual offenders would be punished more harshly than they often are. We wouldn’t try to find excuses for their behavior, or try to figure out “what happened” behind the scenes. This case should be a wake up call to everyone who doesn’t “believe” in rape culture.

In his own defense letter, Brock writes, “I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student.” Blaming this on drinking and peer pressure is absurd. It’s about rape. Let’s not confuse things.

 

3. It involves blatant sexism.

brock-turner-mug-shot

Let’s be real: Brock Turner got such a short sentencing because he is a rich white male. If he were anyone else – a woman, a lower class person, a young male of a different race (more on that in a minute too) – this pathetic jail sentence wouldn’t have been so short. This case is proof that so many people out there value the quality of life of a young white male than they do of a young woman.

 

4. If you look up “white privilege,” this case should be there.

Speaking of Brock’s advantages, let’s talk about the very clear white privilege on display here. As I already said, Brock is a young rich white male. White privilege refers to many things, one of those being that people on average are more likely to assume good things about a white person just because of their skin color. When some people see Brock Turner’s face, they see an innocent white face with a good future ahead of him – these are the same people who see a mugshot of a young black man and automatically think, “thug.”

When many media outlets wrote about Brock, they pointed out how he was talented and smart and had a great future ahead of him. They didn’t even use his mug shot, instead choosing a smiling yearbook photo. These same media outlets have written about similar cases where black or colored males were being accused of the same thing, and they used the worst photos they could find, highlighting all of the bad things about these people instead of the good. Confused? Watch the above video and it becomes clear.

 

5. It’s proof that racism is very real.

rape

For those saying that racism isn’t around anymore – take a look at this case and the white privilege surrounding it. I would be willing to bet everything I own that if Brock Turner were black, things would be completely different. This case is about rape and sexual assault first and foremost, but it’s also about the race issues America faces every single day that no one ever wants to talk about or admit even exists.

 

6. It gives us a look at how sexual assault victims feel.

When Buzzfeed published the letter Brock’s victim wrote for court, it was terribly sad – but it was also important, because it gave us a look at how sexual assault victims feel. Too often we focus on the the person who did the assaulting and not the victim. Thinking about someone being a victim of sexual assault is hard, and so many people choose not to think about it. It’s important to know how seriously rape can affect someone because it’s the first step in realizing how unacceptable this behavior should be. If you haven’t read her letter, read it now.

 

7. It shows us how messed up the media can be. 

I work in media, but this doesn’t mean I can’t admit how horrible media coverage can be. In this case, a lot of media coverage focused on the outrage people have felt about everything that happened…. but then there was also the coverage that sucked. The Washington Post, as an example, wrote an entire piece that basically glorified Brock Turner and might as well have been titled “Victim Blaming.” They focused on all of the good things about Brock. They didn’t use his mug shot. They focused on all of the wrong things. I don’t even want to link to it, because it’s gross.

On another level, Gawker used this opportunity to be so hypocritical it actually hurts and slam Buzzfeed for reasons I still don’t understand. Their coverage should have focused on the unfairness of the case, but instead they made it about them and their pettiness.

This is an example of how much the media can change the way we see things – and how that can be a really horrible thing.

 

8. It still gives us a reason to feel a little bit of hope for humanity. 

There are so many awful things about this story that I don’t even feel right writing that above sentence. But if we’re going to look for something remotely positive, let’s remember the two Swedish men who caught Brock Turner sexually assaulting his victim. This case makes me feel depressed about humans, but these guys make me feel a little bit of hope. They saw what Brock was doing, and they didn’t ignore it or walk away. They got involved, they chased him and knocked him down, they testified, and without them, Brock probably would have gotten away with everything he did. Too often you hear stories about people ignoring horrible things, but these guys were heroes.

 

9. It shows how important the fight for equality is.

Yes, we still need to fight for equality between sexes and races. Yes, even in 2016. Please stop denying it and take a long hard look at this case as proof.

 

10. The attention has given this victim an important voice.

victim-words

Reading the victim’s letter to her attacker is hard – it’s sad, makes you feel angry, and describes a horrible event. But that letter gave this victim a voice, and that can be so, so important. Some victims never want to speak up, and that is their right, and it’s okay. But other victims do wish they had voice, and this girl gave them one with her very powerful words.

 

11. It has brought up an uncomfortable and often ignored sexual assault conversation that needed to happen.

Right now, you’ll hear almost everyone talking about this case. That’s important because so many people want to ignore sexual assault and rape. It’s uncomfortable to talk about because it’s a horrible thing and no one wants to touch it. But we should be talking about this stuff, because ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t happen isn’t working. Wake up.

 

12. It will help weed out the people in your life who suck.

For real. If someone you know is sympathizing with Brock Turner, get them out of your life immediately.

 

13. It shows us how unfair the legal system can be.

brock-turner

In case you didn’t already know, America’s legal system sucks in a lot of ways. I could go into hundreds and hundreds of examples of this, but I don’t have the time. This is only one small example in the grand scheme of things.

 

14. It’s proof of so many things we need to fix in this country.

The moral of the story? This case shows us so many things wrong with this country and the way people think. I wish I could say I think it will help, but honestly, this just reminds me of the Steubenville case that happened years ago. And so I’m assuming this will happen again, but maybe, just maybe, this will make an impact. I sincerely hope it does.

What are your feelings about this Brock Turner rape case? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments.

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.

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  • Glamzee

    This news is almost as bad as that time we were all sady reminded that Chris Brown put a woman in the hospital