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Brock Turner: The Beginning of the End of Victim Blaming?

Do I pity Brock Turner? Absolutely not. We know he is a rapist. We know he is privileged. We know the consequences of this crime will impact the person he assaulted for years to come, but maybe for the first time, a rapist is experiencing real public humiliation. A few days ago, I scanned my Facebook feed and all I saw was his smug little face and a paragraph outlining his crimes and encouraging me to share with the world. In fact, the outrage has been so great that California passed a law which mandates prison sentences for anyone convicted of rape, taking away the discretion of judges to be lenient.

But let’s get back to the question of pity. His father wrote, “He will never be his happy-go-lucky self with that easy-going personality and welcoming smile,” and “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” I’m sure we can all agree these words are more appropriate for the person he raped. Her life will never be the same because of Brock Turner.

While Brock is sad and depressed, let us consider that his entitled and privileged attitude wasn’t born in a vacuum. The attitude that his life shouldn’t be spoiled because of one “bad decision” permeates in a culture where victims are blamed for their rape because they were drunk, or wearing short skirts, or were too flirty to begin with. You see, Brock grew up in a society that promoted college parties as a place to get young women drunk so they are easier to get into bed. He was taught that a passed-out young woman is “fair game” and that it’s her fault if she gets raped because young women shouldn’t drink.  

Perhaps Brock Turner is a tipping point. In the outcry of this crime, I have heard little to nothing about the person who was raped. She is not being vilified for drinking. Her sexual past is not being publicly scrutinized (to my knowledge). Instead, we are talking about Brock Turner, convicted rapist. Let’s keep sharing; continue the momentum and work toward preventing violence.