Saturday, September 3, 2016

5 Tips on How to Not Rape a Woman

Yesterday Brock Turner, a young man convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in January 2015, was released from county jail after serving only half of his six-month sentence. Three months. He got three months in a county jail for doing things to an unconscious woman that a male witness couldn't describe to police without crying because of the awfulness of the scene.

In case you didn't hear the full story, on January 18, 2015, two graduate students came across Brock Turner raping a half-naked, unconscious woman behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity house near Stanford University. Turner, a freshman at the time, ran from the graduate students but they were able to catch him and hold him down until police arrived. Turner later plead not guilty to five different felony chargers, two of which were later dropped. Turner faced up to 14 years in a state prison, but was only sentenced to six months in county jail. Judge Aaron Persky thought that a longer sentence would have a "severe impact" on Turner who happened to be a very good swimmer and once aspired to compete in the Olympics, a topic that was brought up often throughout the trial.

Yesterday Brock Turner was released from county jail after serving only half of his sentence due to good behavior. He is now a registered sex offender and will be on probation for three years.

When I first wrote this article it was over 2000 words of me ranting because I feel very strongly about the injustice surrounding this case. But you know, there are plenty of articles out there for you to read that say basically the same things I was saying. How the sentence was too light, how this is incredibly disrespectful and insulting to anyone who has been sexually assaulted, how no one freaking cares that Turner was a good swimmer, etc. As a future journalist I also think it's important for people to form their own opinions based off of facts so I'm not going to spend too long telling you exactly what I think is wrong with the situation. Instead I thought it'd be a good idea to share some ways to not rape a woman because clearly there are men out there who need a refresher.

5 Tips on How to Not Rape a Woman

1. If you meet a woman who is drunk, buzzed, or intoxicated in any way, stop any sexual intentions immediately. Alcohol affects everyone differently and even a small amount can severely impact a person's decisions. If someone is drunk and says they want to repaint all the walls neon orange, you would tell them "You know, that's probably not a good idea" and tuck them into bed. The same policy applies even if the intoxicated person indicates it's OK to do something that may benefit you. And don't act like you don't know someone is drunk-- frankly you'd have to be an idiot to not see that. A drunk woman saying yes is not the same as a sober person saying yes and should not be taken as such.

2. On that note, consent is not a one-time word. After Brock Turner changed his story a couple of times he decided that the victim had actually said yes to what he was doing to her. I just want to clear this up Brock, was that before or after she passed out? A woman needs to constantly be consenting to what is happening. That doesn't mean she has to say "this is fine" every two seconds, but if she ever asks to stop or slow down, or I don't know, FALLS UNCONSCIOUS you need to stop. Even if a woman eagerly agrees to sex she has the right to stop any time she wants. The second a woman stops consenting is the second it becomes rape.

3. Learn the definition of rape. Brock Turner told investigators that he was fondling the woman but they never actually had sex. Guess what Brock? Still rape. The United State Department of Justice's definition of rape is “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” So while it's true that Brock never actually took off his pants he is undeniably guilty of raping this woman and needs to stop claiming that he isn't.

4. If you're doing anything with a woman and she passes out, get help. Oh my gosh, this one is so obvious it's painful. Passing out is not a woman's way of saying "do whatever you want to me". Passing out means something is wrong and you should get medical help for that woman immediately. The victim did not regain consciousness until she arrived at the hospital later that day. Authorities repeatedly tried to wake her at the scene but were unable to do so. She even vomited while staying unconscious. It couldn't have been more obvious that she was in no state to consent to what was happening. 

5. You are NEVER privileged enough to justify rape. It doesn't matter if you are wealthy, intelligent, or a really good swimmer (sorry Brock), there is never a reason to rape someone and get away with it. And while Brock technically didn't get away with it (remember those three months in jail he served? I know, it went by so fast I almost forgot, but it actually did happen), countless people do. According to the U.S. Department of Justice "About 20 million out of 112 million women in the United States have been raped during their lifetime." The real statistic is most likely higher because many women never report their sexual assaults due to various reasons including fear, embarrassment, and/or the long and often difficult process of convicting their attacker. Brock Turner was able to hire a very good lawyer who, according to the victim, made the entire ordeal terrible. In her words,

"I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now."

Her entire letter to Brock Turner is available here and definitely worth a read if you still need to be convinced that any of this is OK.

Brock Turner got off easy. He will one day lead on ordinary life and will meet people who will never know what he did. But the victim of his actions will never forget what he did. She is permanently changed and scarred from what Turner's father described as "20 minutes of action". Rape takes two people, but will always affect one of those people more than it affects the other. And often that person is left forgotten to pick up the pieces of their shattered life and try to put themselves back together while the person responsible for it all gets to hold little or no responsibility for what they've done. All I can hope now is that somewhere inside Brock Turner knows the gravity of his mistake and at the very least never does something like this again. To his victim, I hope you know that millions of people are rallying behind you and supporting you the best we can during this time of injustice. There is no way to take back what has been done, only look forward and hope that change is in the future.