Wednesday, June 08, 2016

My hometown rape culture

Since the grief, triggering and rage that was Monday, learning about the verdict in the Stanford rape case, I've written and re-written this post in my head.
*A ninja edit: I love Joe Biden!*

Like millions of other people, the emotional rollercoaster between those three kept going around and around. And I don't want to be silent about it. Not anymore.

Stanford is in my hometown. The judge that is now up for recall was elected in the county where my family still lives.

In high school, we were warned not to go to Stanford frat parties because we heard girls got raped there. We stayed away. It didn't protect us.

Apparently the law still can't, either.

Even after decades of feminism, of advocacy, of public awareness campaigns, it is being argued that "alcohol and promiscuity" are to blame for a violent crime.

This rape culture existed in my hometown in the 1990s. Some things, apparently, don't change.

More even than the ridiculously light six month sentence are the ludicrous objections to any sentence at all by the rapist, Brock Turner, and his family. His father, it seems, is more interested in whining about him being so "depressed" that he no longer craves his favorite steak, than showing any concern whatsover about the woman he treated like a piece of meat.

This tells us what we have always heard before: don't tell. 

No one will believe you.
Your name will be dragged through the mud.
It isn't worth it.

And our internal voices told us: just blame yourself.
Which is what so many of us have done.

The longer I am involved in advocacy, the more people come to me and disclose that too many of us - far, far to many of us - have been suffering in silence.

Brock Turner's father wrote in a letter to the judge that his son would never be the same. Turner himself complained that he had already lost two jobs because of "this." This, bucko, is the fact that you raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Clearly he thought of her as trash.

Try living with PTSD for 25 years. Try burying things that happened to you when you were 14 because the handful of people you tried to talk to 1. didn't believe you (therapist), 2. couldn't handle it and changed the subject (family), 3. groped you and tried to get it on with you when you just needed a hug (male friend. Yes, really. He's a district attorney in upstate New York now.)

Try living and reliving this in your nightmares and having lifelong trust issues and only recognizing it now.

My boss said he hadn't signed the petition to recall this judge because "it's not here, I can't vote to recall him, so I really can't do anything about it."

I disagreed. I told him what I thought: expressing outrage, protesting, sends a message around the nation and the world that this is fucking unacceptable. That no one should be afraid of coming forward because they're afraid of being humiliated. That rape is never, never the victim's fault. That it is a violent crime that should be punished like any other violent crime.

After the triggers, after the hot, angry tears all through my drive home Monday, I decided that I am not going to be silent anymore, in hopes that other people will believe it should be OK to speak up.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Sexual Assault Helpline at 800.656.HOPE (4673.)


Anonymous said...

I only learned about this case recently via the BBC. It certainly alarms me that the sentence was so light and the father's letter ........! On one hand, I understand a parent's natural instinct to try to keep a child out of jail, so I don't agree with the letter but I would not be so critical about that. However, the letter really does not seem to at all consider the harm that has been suffered by the victim and that is deplorable.

The rape culture is not one that should be so prevalent in any "civilised society".

Unfortunately, over here we also have the denial that rape happens. It can't be happening because we are a moral and religious society so it doesn't happen. That same logic also once argued that there was no AIDS because we just don't have sexual promiscuity or sexually transmitted diseases.

We must fight to change it but it is a long fight. But the heroes of the story, the two Swedish students clearly show that in some cultures, this sort of thing is not tolerated.

Abby said...

This story infuriates me. I'm glad to see the backlash and outrage it has caused. And the father's letter is too clueless and insulting for words. I'm wondering where Brock Turner's mother is in all this. The bright spots here are the two guys who cared enough to stop and chase the predator POS down. (Note: they were on bicycles :))

It's interesting to read your take on this, you being from Stanford.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

This case has quite rightly appalled and infuriated people all over the world. I'm so sorry to hear that it is also a personal trigger for your own painful memories and experiences, Riot Kitty.

Cheryl said...

I, too am sorry you have had to deal with this type of trauma. As with so many women, I, also have had to deal with this as well.

I have been following this story from the beginning and find it unconscionable as to how it's been handled. I read the victims letter from start to finish earlier this week and it breaks my heart.

Then today, the news says they have already set a release date in Sept. which is cutting his ridiculously short sentence even shorter.

Every person (man or women) should be outraged at the injustice of this.

Elephant's Child said...

Yes. I wish I could say it couldn't happen here. But it could. It can. It does. And ignoring it condones such behaviour. And re-inforces it. For the rapist and the judicial system.

LL Cool Joe said...

It's been heavily promoted on Pinterest too, as I follow many feminist boards there. Well done for writing such an articulate post about this awful subject.

6 months for ruining that woman's life? Unbelievable.

CraveCute said...

This is so heartbreaking for the victim. She must feel so betrayed. Thank you for sharing your keen insight.

HBF said...

So glad you shared this post. I haven't taken the opportunity to look more into this news story but now I am going to as soon as I can. Thank you for speaking up and advocating!

G. B. Miller said...

Like I stated earlier, there is some heavy duty social media blowback on this. A woman friend of this twit wrote a character letter for him, and had roughly a half-dozen concerts canceled in NY (she fronts a band) because of doing this stupid thing.

It takes a lot of courage to write about what you went through on your blog, and it's a good thing that you're channeling your anger on this in a positive way.

Birdie said...

I add,

Try being a female and never feeling completely safe while walking at night. Try feeling fearful of a park by your house that is so beautiful that it takes your breath away but you can't walk there because it is a known place where women are raped. Try having a daughter and having to have her "check in" when she late because you are afraid she might have something as awful as being raped happen to her.

I am sick to death that in the year 2016 that women are still safe. Not in her school or home. Not driving her car or in her workplace. Not going for a walk or gardening in her back yard. Not safe. Not ever.

Lee said...

And nor should you be silent, RK.

This is a disgusting story and when I heard and read about it the other day, I fumed...and I still fume!

What is wrong with your justice systems? Ours here in this country is as bad...and, yes, the situation makes me very angry.

These judges sit on their well-paid arses...they live in their fantasy worlds and have no idea of reality.

As for the father...he is as disgusting as his son is. It's little wonder the son has turned out the way he has. Shame on them...shame on the justice system!

"Justice"? There has been no justice shown here.

klahanie said...

We have been finding out about this story. It infuriates me and yes, beggars belief. How often the sentence doesn't fit the crime.

Your powerful, emotive passion for this is clear demonstration that you will not be silent. Thank you.


Lynn said...

It's beyond ridiculous that that creep got such a light sentence. And it's clear that he was raised as entitled and coddled.

I admire you for raising your voice and so angry to hear that when that happened to you at such a young age, no one took you seriously.

Ileana said...

He's worried about his future when he shows no remorse for raping a woman behind a dumpster?! What about her? What about her future?? The Judge basically gave him a slap on the wrist for committing the CRIME of RAPE (6 months...reallY??) and his father's worried over his change in appetite. It's shocking and disgusting! I don't think we've heard the last of this case.

Btw, I deleted a bunch of old blogs and may have deleted yours by accident. I had to look for you on one of our mutual friends' blogrolls. Happy to find you again, chica!

Charles Gramlich said...

I can't wrap my head around it. don't know how people think like this, like that letter.

A Beer For The Shower said...

I can't believe I almost missed this post. It's perfectly said, and certainly something that people need to see. Something that should no longer fall on deaf ears. It's just astounding that for all of the so-called progress we make as society, some things just don't ever change. Well, they need to. We're only two people, but we'll try always to do whatever we can to do our part. And as always, you know we're here if you need us.

Blue Grumpster said...

I know exactly what I'd like to do to rapists.

Claire said...

This whole situation is so sad and the attitude of the guy's family and the JUDGE is deplorable.

TM Joe Biden though, I thought his statements were beautiful and refreshing. Go, Joe!

Lee said...

I hope you're doing okay, Michelle...just dropping by to say "Hi!" :)

Snowbrush said...

And you sarcastically accused Charles of being “a ray of sunshine”! Some kids here in Eugene, Oregon, burned down an eighty-five year old baseball stadium, and the liberal cry was to help them and their families to get their lives back on track. Help them? Fuck them! Blow the little bastards away for all I care. It is this sympathy for criminals that keeps me from being a liberal, although I agree with them on a lot of things. My thought about teenagers in particular is that if you commit a heinous crime when you’re a kid, it doesn’t look good for you EVER getting your life on track. We humans breed like popcorn, and I think that what money goes to help anyone should go to those who are doing good rather than those who are screwing up.

As for the rape case you wrote about, the nation has since moved on to being outraged about other things that are more likely to get worse than to get better. I'm very sorry for what you've been through, for what little if any good it does you, and I'm very sorry that we live in a country that doesn't take rape seriously. I at least THINK we're mostly beyond women killing themselves over their shame for being raped.

Senorita said...

That judge is a disgrace, I still can't believe it !