Editorial: ‘Rape’ is not just a dirty word

Videtteonline.com – Sept. 13, 2016

Since the rape that took place at Stanford University in January of 2015, Brock Turner has been plastered all over the news, social media and in the mouths of college students everywhere.

Turner, then 20, an elite swimmer at the university, was charged with three counts of felony sex offenses after raping a woman, then 22, behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity house. The woman was found half-naked and unconscious later that evening with no recollection of the events.

In the victim’s statement, which went viral, she detailed the counts of her rape and how she had to obtain these details from the media. She woke up in a hospital confused and scared with remnants of the assault all over her body.

The case and the victim’s powerful statement caught public attention immediately and only grew stronger as the court case proceeded.

In a letter to the judge, Turner’s father, Dan Turner, insisted that his son’s life would “never be the same” and that the dream he had worked for is diminished.

“That’s a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life,” Dan Turner said.

It was this reaction letter that sent the public on a frenzy. How is it that in a case of rape, a student’s ambitions and status hold any worth?

Prosecutors asked that Turner serve six years for his offenses, yet the trial led to a short, three-month sentencing with an added three years of probation and the label of a registered sex offender.

Judge Aaron Persky presided and is now under scrutiny for having let Turner off with such a lenient sentencing. Fuel was added to the flames Sept. 2 when Turner was released from prison.

Upon arriving home in Ohio, Turner was met with armed protesters. Angry men and women holding signs reading “castrate rapists,” “shoot your local rapist” and “no sympathy for rapists” lined the streets.

“Rape” is no longer just a dirty word.

As a result of the case, California lawmakers are currently working toward a change in law dealing with rape. Currently, harsher sentencing is dealt when the victim is conscious. The public is now saying that just because the victim cannot say “no,” does not mean the answer is “yes.”

The Turner case has brought rape culture to many conversations across the country. When it comes to universities, rape often goes unreported.

In fact, U.S. News reported that during their freshman year, 15 percent of college women are raped.

Unfortunately, the talk that surrounds rape usually includes “risk factors” for women. Don’t wear revealing clothing. Don’t drink too much. Always go out with a buddy. Do not appear to be sexually interested. Have a low “number” so people do not perceive you as eager to have sex.

Instead of focusing on telling people not to rape, the conversation shifts to the victim and tells them how they can avoid being raped. In reality, it is not the victim who needs to change. It is the rapist.

The Turner case has brought up important issues the public is often too afraid to talk about. Now with its implications and lenient sentencing shoved right in the faces of observers, the conversation can no longer be avoided. Rape is not a subject to be brushed to the side. We can no longer blame victims for the actions of their rapists. Change must come.

Turner’s victim ended her statement with a call to victims and potential victims everywhere.

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining,” she quoted from Anne Lamott. “Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking here today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionable, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you,” she said.

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