XIII - Much Better - Rape is Real to Me and Means More Than the Facts
On January 18, 2015, on the Stanford University campus, Brock Allen Turner, then a 19-year-old student athlete at Stanford, sexually assaulted 22-year-old Chanel Miller (referred to in court documents as "Emily Doe"), while she was unconscious. Two graduate students intervened and held Turner in place until police arrived. Turner was arrested and released the same day after posting $150,000 bail.
…The trial concluded on March 30, 2016, with Turner convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault. On June 2, 2016, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail followed by three years of probation. Additionally, Turner was obliged to register as a sex offender for life and to complete a rehabilitation program for sex offenders.
The facts seem obvious! A 22 year old woman was drunk and unconscious. A 19 year old drunk man, Brock Turner, engaged in sexual contact with her. Two other young men saw what was happening, and intervened, holding the man, who sought to escape. Turner pleaded innocent of multiple charges. A jury found Brock Turner guilty on multiple counts. He was sentenced to six months in prison, and served three months before being released. Significantly for his future, he is required to register as a sex-offender whenever he moves (for the rest of his life).
I see two contrasting perspectives on this:
1. A young man has already been significantly punished for a poor choice he made, and should not have his life ruined by continuing punishment,
2. A young woman was brutally sexually assaulted. Her sister and she (and perhaps other women) face life-long trauma which was completely caused by the young man’s actions. He has never seriously accepted responsibility for what he did. He has done nothing to show his concern for these two women (and others who have been similarly assaulted).
I find it difficult to see the young man as a victim. He was on a swimming scholarship at Stanford University. He contested the facts. He sought sympathy, despite having done horrific things to a woman. She did nothing wrong.
Brock Turner could have been sentenced to, and required to serve 14 years in prison. He served 1/56th of this time! He did not gratefully accept this. Instead, he appealed his conviction!
(additional quotes from the survivor of the sexual assault) On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. …
My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. …
One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person.
Most people have been and are not seriously impacted by the news of this assault and the words of the woman who survived it.
A moderate number of people - have been and/or are seriously traumatized by all of this. These people will never forget! It may trigger - their own traumas - from significant things that they’ve experienced. The vast majority of these people are and will be women and girls.
Others - will be or have been disturbed by this. They differ from those traumatized because the effect upon them will be substantially less, as well as often disappearing - essentially being forgotten.
Men, in particular, will be much more likely to fit in this latter category, rather than the one preceding it. Far fewer of us have direct ties to what happened. Far fewer of us - go deeply into our feelings - staying with them.
There are core systemic differences that we have as - gendered people. While our life experiences significantly differ from each other, we face some basic differences - that are often gendered.
I, a man, am walking alone - in the dark - well away from home - in an area that doesn’t feel safe.
Who do I fear?
Clearly - a male person who is probably somewhere between around age 16 and some age - from around 25 - to, in some situations - perhaps someone in their 50’s or so.
What do I fear?
Most vividly - I fear a male person with either a handgun, or the appearance that he likely has a handgun that I can not see. I fear that he will rob me of my wallet, perhaps my cell phone or my car. I fear that I could be killed - if he believes that I am resisting him.
I can imagine trying to run away from him. If I feel that he is after me, and I see a safe place to run to, I may consider running.
Now, let’s assume that instead of 71 year old, white male, George, we are talking about a female person.
What does she fear?
Well, she certainly could have a fear similar to mine! Most likely though, the primary fear she has is different! Her fear is gendered. She fears a sexual assault, or a rape from a man or boy!
In my head I know that I could (also) be raped. I don’t seriously fear it, though.
Now - presume, that this hypothetical woman or girl - has had an actual threatening situation in her past. She may have been assaulted. She may have feared being assaulted. Someone close to her may have told her of a similar experience!
I can not know, particularly within my body the fears that women and girls have - similar to what I have alluded to.
Speaking of gendered differences, let’s assume that I have had a serious experience in my past, where a partner, a female child of mine, my mother, a close female friend or co-worker - or similar had either been assaulted or felt in danger of being assaulted. Let’s also presume that she told me of this experience in significant detail.
I can certainly imagine that I might seek professional help with a therapist. I would likely want to deal with intense feelings I had. I also might not have others to talk with and want to know how I could emotionally support this woman or girl.
How likely is it that I, as a male, would subsequently turn to active volunteer or professional work, focused upon issues related to sexual assault?
Perhaps, I’m off. I imagine a few, but only very few such men - becoming active.
My sense is that it would be much different for women, in similar situations. I believe that a significant minority of comparable women would do something substantial, related to sexual assault. I also believe that comparable women would in general sustain their work significantly longer, on average, than men doing such work.
I can readily concede that gendered differences will persist. Similarly, more Black People are likely to work on racial justice issues than white people. The issue to me is the size of the gender disparities. 40 men, on average, in contrast to 60 women, would be “fully realistic”. The reality, however, seems to me to be far, far from this. I see perhaps two men, on average, vs. ninety-eight women, excluding for the moment the gender fluid and non-conforming other people.
Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.
Ruin a life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. …
All the crying, the hurting you have imposed on me, I can take it. But when I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. …
Right now your name is tainted, so I challenge you to make a new name for yourself, to do something so good for the world, it blows everyone away. You have a brain and a voice and a heart. Use them wisely. You possess immense love from your family. That alone can pull you out of anything. Mine has held me up through all of this. Yours will hold you and you will go on. …
Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. …
Now - more recently - updates from: https://sfist.com/2022/08/22/stanford-rapist-brock-turner-goes-viral-again-on-tiktok-in-ohio/
"Brock Turner is now living in the Dayton, Ohio, area,” says one recent Facebook post. "He is frequenting bars in the area. Do not let him leave with an intoxicated woman. Inform the women of who he is. Inform the bartender, bouncers. Brock Turner does not belong in public."
I try to seriously work on multiple issues that concern me! I do not expect men to rush and join me in my outrage - related to this horrible rape - and much, much more! Similarly, I do not expect men to rush and join me in my outrage - related to the Dobbs - Supreme Court Decision. It overturned Roe vs. Wade - allowing states to prosecute women, girls, trans men and medical providers, who perform and have abortions. Similarly, I do not expect white men to rush in joining me in white Anti-Racism trainings and work, supporting the work of BIPOC - struggling to end systemic racism in the United States.
I do hope that men - will listen and speak their truths - related to these and many other issues. Where we are now - two percent, I hope that a year from now we will be at least four percent, and a year later at least eight percent.
I hope that we will - move into relationship - with other men - in doing our personal work together. I hope that we won’t rely upon others to teach us! We can learn from them - reading, listening, and much more - without draining them (further). Black Women, white women, the Queer/Gender-non-Binary People and other “outsiders” - do The Work already.
We can be “in community” with each other - and in the end - with “them” - as we become both - “part of them” - and “outsiders who support all”.
If (when) we do this, we will learn that our lives have much more meaning! If (when) we do this, we will learn that we can be “healthy” physically and emotionally! It is lonely - being a man! It doesn’t have to be that way!
I always try to be open to listening! You, sharing your truths with me - helps me learn! I have a lot to learn! I’m trying! Thanks!