It is Monday morning. The office is quiet, like usual, just the normal click-clacking of keys and general weariness of a weekend lost yet again hangs in the air. I check email, reheat my coffee, and browse drearily on social media the current events of this exceedingly warm Monday. Everything is the same, but I am numb. Deeply unsettled, I’ve just finished reading the full statement from the victim raped by Brock Allen Turner, former student of Stanford University last January of 2015. My arms erupt in chicken skin and I feel my coffee roll over in my stomach, staring at my computer screen.
Consent. What is the meaning of consent? Simply, it is defined according to Merriam Webster as “to agree to do or allow something : to give permission for something to happen or be done.” What does it mean to consent in most scenarios? Well, it usually involves a verbal agreement between two parties, which at least in my experience as a human being functioning at a normal mental capacity, is pretty hard to do when one of the parties is unconscious.
I’ve always been vocal about issues concerning women on social media. I don’t care if it’s annoying. I don’t care if it’s in your face and you don’t want to face the cold, hard truth that emotional, physical, and sexual violence is perpetrated on women at an alarming rate every single day. I don’t care that rapists have to sit in jail and get their cushy swimming scholarship taken away from them because of “20 minutes of action.” I simply can not stand by and watch victims of sexual assault be made a mockery of in the American justice system time and time again. It’s completely reprehensible, and downright revolting. Not only has Turner never admitted to his repugnant and unconscionable behavior, his family can’t even refer to what he did as what is actually is, rape. But I forgot, lack of consent is only sexy if you don’t get caught.
Victims deserve the right to be heard. Their traumas deserve to be validated in a society that allows victim blaming and has said victims relive the worst experiences of their lives over, and over again. Meanwhile the world sits back and scrutinizes their every action, drink consumed, boyfriends had, because God forbid you’ve had a casual sexual encounter. Then you were just asking for it, I mean, what else is the world supposed to reasonably think? That women are people and not a commodity who’s bodies are up for male consumption on a daily basis? As if.
If you haven’t already, I urge you to read the full victim statement that this absolutely courageous girl read directly to her attacker in court. It is long, and my stomach was wrenched in knots, but she deserves to be heard. His “20 minutes of action” has impacted this girls life unalterably. He has left her with permanent baggage she can never check. Do not let her pain ring in silence.
To Judge Aaron Persky, who decided this horrible, vicious attack was only worth 6 months in county jail as opposed to years in state prison, from the bottom of my heart: I hope this all serves as a very important message to you that women’s bodies are not a commodity to be had by the rich, white and powerful. Our anger as women for our sister is not misdirected about this injustice.
This decision is an egregious miscarriage of justice, and unfortunately, this has happened many times and will happen time and time again. Someday, I hope, how much we drank, what we were wearing, how many boyfriends we’ve had, and how we just shouldn’t have gone to the party that night will no longer be a justification to being violated beyond repair. So what can we do in the meantime? Start making noise, speaking out on behalf of victims, sign your name on shit that matters, and be relentless against slut shaming and victim blaming. Social change requires action, no matter how small.
My dear nameless victim, I am with you. We’re all with you.