Today, I want to talk about something distressing and troublesome. I want to talk about something upsetting and uncomfortable, and I want to talk about a topic which may make you cringe and squirm.
Today, I am going to talk about sexual assaults.
Today, I am going to talk about rape.
Because today Brock Turner will be released from jail, after sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman. After spending just three months in prison.
(Three months of his already far-too-lenient six month sentence.)
Because earlier this week David Becker, charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault, walked out of a Massachusetts courtroom with just two years probation — and NO jail time — even after admitting to one of the rape charges. Even after texting an apology to one of his victims.
Becker will NOT have to register as a sex offender and, if Becker completes his probation, the conviction will be expunged from his record because, as Becker’s attorney stated, Becker simply made a “mistake.”
The attack was nothing more than a stupid, childish decision.
And this is frightening and unacceptable. This is horrific and offensive, and this is an all-around failure.
A cultural failure.
A societal failure.
A failure of our justice system.
Because sexual assaults are NOT a mistake. Rape ISN’T a mistake, and it isn’t an adolescent misstep or a naive action.
As a woman I am appalled. As a daughter, a sister-in-law, a cousin, and a parent I am scared. As a writer who has seen her peers (and friends) sexually harassed — who has read but a handful of the messages they have received, i.e. “you look like the kind of woman who asks for rape” and “you deserve to be raped” — I am sickened. And as the mother of a young girl, I am horrified.
Pardon my language, but I am fucking disgusted.
I am lucky. I have never been raped, but the fact that I have to say “I am lucky” is outrageous. The fact that my safety and well-being is something of fluke is disturbing, and the fact that it is in THIS world in which I am raising my daughter it scary.
It is terrifying.
Because as she grows from my little girl into a young woman, I wonder what I am supposed to say to her? What am I supposed to teach her? And what the hell am I supposed to do to protect her?
How can I keep her safe?
If I buy into conventional rhetoric, I should tell her not to wear short skirts or tight shirts. I should advise her that shouldn’t drink or go to parties. She shouldn’t lead men on, or talk to them to begin with, and she shouldn’t go out after dark.
She should never, EVER venture anywhere alone, because if she does any of these things, she is “in danger.” She is setting herself up for disaster, and she is “asking for it.”
Clearly clothes are the reason women get raped and not the consciousness — or lack thereof — of their aggressors. Not the actions of their rapists.
No. I cannot tell my daughter these things. I cannot teach her these bullshit lessons, and I cannot accept this is all I can do.
I cannot sit back and hope my daughter is “lucky.” That somehow my daughter will make it through life without becoming a statistic: that my daughter will NOT become one of every five women who is raped and/or assaulted during the course of their lifetime.
So if you believe our daughter’s deserve better. If you believe our wives deserve better. If you believe our sisters and mothers, cousins and friends deserve better, do not let Brock Turner’s release be the end of your outrage. Do let time silence you, and do not accept that this rape culture will live in as the norm.
Stand up, and speak out.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable, and talk about sexual assaults. Talk about rape. Use these words and share every last, disgusting detail not only with the women in your life but the men. Because this isn’t a “women’s problem.”
Sexual assault is a SOCIETAL problem.
Rape is a SOCIETAL problem.
And we need to do better. We have to.