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What College Rapist Brock Turner's Sentence Says About Rape Culture

Chloe Gilman
June 12, 2016 9:00 AM

In a society where over six people are serving life sentences for nonviolent marijuana offenses, Judge Aaron Persky has handed a six month sentence to convicted rapist Brock Turner. A six month sentence that will surely last three months before being cut short for “good behavior.” A six month sentence at the end of over a year of litigation, during which the victim had to repeatedly recount the most traumatic event of her life to fight against disgusting attacks on her character and credibility. 

In her final statement to the court and her attacker, the victim described the tragic evening and the persistent trauma that followed. The victim, identified as Jane Doe 1, accompanied her sister to a college party, and ended up being sexually violated while she lie unconscious on the ground behind a dumpster. Two passing students witnessed the attack, confronted the assailant, and ultimately chased and detained him until police could arrive.

Brock Turner, his lawyer, and the many character witnesses they gathered are all quick to excuse this attack because Turner and Doe had been drinking. They all speak of a party culture that exists on college campuses; the celebration and promotion of binge drinking and wild behavior. They explain that Turner “isn’t like that”, they speak of his athletic accomplishments, his small-town naivete that surely made him susceptible to overindulgence and stupid antics. Except he is “like that.” Not only is Brock Turner a convicted sexual assailant, he is a man that is willing to attack a woman and follow it up by attacking her character in court.

Turner’s father, in a letter to the court after the sentencing, expressed that his son didn’t deserve to serve any prison time for “only 20 minutes of action.” This attack was not “20 minutes of action.” Jane Doe spent the morning after the attack in the hospital, where she endured invasive examinations. She spent the next year defending herself in what should have been a straightforward case. And she will spend the rest of her life living with the psychological effects of surviving rape.

This case is not about a couple of kids that got a little too drunk and engaged in embarrassing sexual relations, as Turner would like us to believe. This case is about a culture that accepts rape, a culture where affluent men have bright futures at stake and young women have shameful pasts and ulterior motives. A culture where rape can happen to an average of once every two weeks without being considered a rampant social problem in need of urgent action.

As feminists, it is our responsibility to fight against this culture; there is now a petition to recall Jude Persky, and we must continuously speak out against sexual violence and support victims.

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