Stanford Rape: A Case of Privilege
Like many people, hearing about the Stanford University Rape Case makes me very angry. The Stanford woman, who was unconscious and raped behind a dumpster, known as Emily Doe (fake name), has been emotionally, mentally, and physically scarred for life.
Her attacker, 20-year-old Brock Turner, faces only three months in county jail and three years of probation, because he's the one who would be “severely impacted,” according to Judge Aaron Persky. The judge concluded that because of Turner’s age and no recent criminal background, he could receive a shorter sentence. (Prosecutors recommended he receive six years.)
Let me explain. Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault. These crimes carry a maximum of fourteen years in state prison. But because of this rapist’s “life goals,” he was sentenced to less time in jail, even though he committed a serious crime and was found guilty by all twelve jurors! And the latest news on the case is that Turner will be released three months early.
There has been much sympathy for the victim of this horrible crime, and much outrage for the convicted felon.
On the other hand, Turner sees himself as a victim as does his dad, and friends. They can’t seem to accept the fact the he is a rapist. His father said that his son should not have to go to prison for “20 minutes of action.” Even some news outlets refer to him as the “Stanford swimmer,” like that’s the important part. Maybe they should say, “He’s a criminal that knows how to swim.” This nonsense just goes on and on. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Turner blamed the rape on alcohol and Stanford culture, and even tried to blame the victim’s sister somehow.
Emily Doe wrote a letter to her attacker and dedicated it to all women by saying, “to girls everywhere, I am with you…on nights when you feel alone, I am with you.” The letter is very expressive, powerful, insightful, and provides the victim’s clear thoughts. Buzzfeed has the entire letter on its site.
But it is frustrating to read Emily Doe’s point of view, because Turner still did not confess to his crime. He doesn’t seem to understand what he’s done, even when people keep saying it. It’s kind of frustrating when you are continuously trying to explain a fact to someone, and they keep contradicting it.
In the letter, Ms. Doe brings up a point about how Turner said the rape was consensual sex. If so, why did he run when two men approached him? The victim brings up this point, and more, in her letter. She explains that because she was unconscious and couldn’t remember what happened that night, she couldn’t prove the assault was unwanted. “I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation,” she said.
Although the victim’s letter was for women, the media has been pushing it towards men and boys. The sentencing of this rape case is showing males that crimes like this are okay if you are successful and are working towards a goal, like the Olympics. This is completely sending the wrong message, and so is the judge’s ruling. Rape is a serious offense, and the punishment should fit the crime. Period. Being an athlete doesn’t take away from the fact that Turner did something wrong. “We should not create a culture that suggests we learn rape is wrong through trial and error,” the victim says in her letter.
Turner committed a crime, and should get the punishment he deserves. The victim feels that her attacker’s sentencing is a “mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women.”
In addition to the horrific injustice done to Emily Doe, it seems very unfair that so many young black men are being treated differently for similar crimes. What if a black man committed the same crime as Turner? Would their cases be handled the same if they would have expressed their goals in life? I don’t think so. Brian Banks is proof of this. Banks was wrongly accused of rape when he was sixteen, and sentenced to six years in prison.
Banks had a promising football career and was working towards the NFL. Similarly, Banks and Turner were both accused of rape, and both had favorable career goals. So what’s the difference? Let’s state the obvious here: Banks is black, and Turner is white. Banks gets six years in prison, and Turner gets six, now three, months in county jail. Banks believes the Stanford rape case is a “case of privilege.” And so do I.
This just proves that institutional racism is still alive and well. Many people say it does not exist because they don’t want to believe it, or because it does not affect them. This case proves an injustice to Emily Doe, and every African American unjustly sentenced by racial bias. But, all Americans, especially African Americans, cannot let cases like this silently slide by without addressing it.
Young people have strong opinions and are not afraid to express them. But most of us, for example, are not registered to vote, and think voting is not going to make a difference. That is false. Our voices do count. We need to be voting for judges we can believe in so that this kind of disgraceful sentencing can stop.
Vice President Joe Biden wrote an open letter to Ms. Doe. He said that he was filled with furious anger, and he was sorry “that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken…You were failed.”
There is also a change.org petition people can sign to remove Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Turner to only six months in jail from the bench, for his decision in this rape case.