Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Dear Brock Turner's Dad (Dan Turner), Defenders, and Rationalizers: #SOL16 #BrockTurner

Dear Brock Turner's Dad (Dan Turner), Defenders and Rationalizers:

Since reading about Brock Turner's conviction on three felony counts of rape and aggravated assault of a woman behind a dumpster, and since learning about the lenient sentence handed down by Judge Persky, I've shed many tears of anger and sorrow. I've read, with my husband, the victim's heart-wrenching, twelve-page letter to the court, and I've read your letter, Mr. Turner, rationalizing your son's behavior. I've also read many blog posts, news stories, and commentaries as well as Brock's friend Leslie Rasmussen's defense of him. 

These past few days I've asked myself why I'm so angry about this incident involving people I don't know. I've concluded, Mr. Dan Turner and other defenders of Brock, that in the many years since I first learned about sexual assault little has changed. 

Mr. Dan Turner and other Brock Turner apologists, you don't get it. Sexual Assault is a big deal. According the RAINN, Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, each year the United States produces approximately 293,000 victims of sexual assault. Brock is one of thousands of abusers. He's not an anomaly, but he may symbolize the tipping point, the point at which our nation finally says, We're "mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore. 

I, for one, am tired. I am bone tired of the abusers, the defenders of the abusers, the justice system filled with men who enable the abusers, the blame the victim mentality engrained in our cultural psyche.

I am tired. I am tired of learning about students who have been victimized by men and boys who rape and assault them. I am tired of not having the words to comfort or help them since we both know the system would as soon blame them for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or wearing the wrong clothing as punish the perpetrator. Judge Persky confirmed this for the entire nation when he sentenced Brock to six months in the county jail. 

I am tired of parents, like you Mr. Dan Turner, who rationalize their sons' behavior as "twenty minutes of action," parents who defend their sons instead of looking in the mirror and asking what you did to raise a boy who grew up to be a man who rapes, who assaults, who takes advantage of a woman whose judgment is impaired. Parents like you who think their son's appetite for steak is more important than his victims suffering.Mr. Turner, start with the man in the mirror. I get that you wanted a light sentence for your son, but blaming the victim, denying Brock's actions, refusing to apologize, embracing hubris rather than humility insults every victim of sexual assault and does nothing to help your child. 

I am tired of reliving the memory of my best friend in college finding me during dinner to tell me she had been to the doctor and learned she had crabs, which her rapist gave her after assaulting her behind a Quick Trip in Kansas City Missouri. My friend was not drunk. My friend was a virgin saving herself for her future husband. I helped her clean her home, sanitize the furniture, wash all the clothes, but I could not wash away the rape or her memory of it. 

I am tired of systemic blaming of the victims when the victim is a female and the perpetrators are young men. Shortly after I read about Brock's lenient conviction, I read about four BYUI students who broke into a young woman's home, stole a picture, and hung a dead rabbit in its place along with a threatening note. Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg, Idaho police chose not to arrest the men because they were just playing a prank. I am tired of the Captain Lewis types who take a "boys will be boys" selective approach to law enforcement. 

I am tired of being too embarrassed by my own experiences of having been improperly fondled by a relative, a much older man, when I was 16 and then feeling as though it was my fault when he was caught as I was attempting to push him away. I remember his constant efforts to touch me between my legs from the time I was seven years old. People knew. People ignored. 

I am tired of the memories I have of walking home from school in junior high past an older boy's house as he stood on the porch yelling that he wanted to play with my boobs because they were so big. Growing up in the shadow of leers suggesting I deserved less respect than other women because my large breasts offered an open invitation for unsolicited cat calls and advances has exhausted me. 

I am tired of feeling ashamed of and blaming myself for my own sexual assault nearly forty years ago. It took me decades to realize I'd been date raped when I was 18 during the summer of 1977; I'd had sex. It must have been my choice, right? Even though I was sick with the flu and repeatedly said "no." Even though I was in a strange place, a city hours from my home. It happened, so I must have consented. Only I didn't. I said, "no, no, no" repeatedly as I nursed a fever and cough. Still, it happened. I've kept that event a secret all my life

I am tired of the way society treats victims of sexual assault, making them feel as though they need to hide in anonymity. I've watched women in real life, in movies, in realistic fiction grapple with the struggles of sexual abuse. Even women, like Brock's friend Leslie often don't know the definition of rape, of sexual assault, of their own worth as women because they have been so acculturated to the "boys will be boys" mindset, acculturated to the idea that they are subordinate to men. 

I am tired and so are many men, good men, decent men, men like my husband. Mr. Dan Turner and Defenders of Brock Turner, my 68 year old husband articulated the message you need to hear, and he parses no words in his assessment of Brock's situation: "He's a fucking rapist, and he needs to be in jail." There you have it from a white man who knows the difference between consent and assault, from a father who never rationalizes his or others' bad behaviors. 

I am tired. I am tired of the rape culture, a culture our nation needs to own and stop rationalizing. I only hope that this story of Brock Turner, rapist; and his father Dan Turner, rapist apologist; and Judge Persky, rapist enabler lasts longer than the typical news cycle and that our nation will finally learn its lesson and stop blaming the victim and coddling the privileged assailant. 

Slice of Life happens every Tuesday through the
tireless efforts of the team at Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, ladies.