Unless you’ve been away from social media and news of every kind for the past few days, you’ve probably heard about the Stanford rape case in which a convicted rapist (three felony counts) will be serving six months in county jail because the judge felt a longer sentence would “negatively impact” the rapist’s future. Rape culture is a huge problem.
If you haven’t yet, I urge you to read the letter written by the real victim in this terrible situation, the woman who was raped. It is difficult to read, but it’s so important.
I usually don’t use the word victim when talking about sexual assault because many believe the term “survivor” is more empowering. I believe that’s true, but in this case the woman is still being victimized. Only now, it isn’t just the rapist who has victimized her, but also the judge in the case.
This is why so many people don’t press charges when they’re sexually assaulted and why rapes go unreported. Women (and men) who have been raped are told early on that the process of going to court sucks. You’ll be dragged through the mud, made out to be a whore, have your every word questioned, etc. Now add to that even if there’s a conviction it may not mean much, especially if your rapist is a privileged, athletic, white kid.
I get that our justice system is built to presume innocence until guilt is proven, but that doesn’t mean that we hold the accuser guilty in the meantime or instead. In this case, guilt WAS proven. The jury found the rapist guilty of three felony counts.
The whole situation makes me sick and angry beyond words. I’ve been struggling with it for days. If one good thing has come out of this, it’s that a lot of people are talking about it. People are angry. People are demanding action be taken against the judge.
You all know, if you’ve read about my reason for fundraising for BIDMC when I ran the Boston Marathon, that I was sexually assaulted in college. After some consideration I went to university police, who told me they didn’t have jurisdiction because what happened to me happened off campus. So I went to the Boston Police, who completely dropped the ball. I tried following up, but was given the runaround. Nothing was ever done about my report, with my rape kit, or to follow-up with me at all. The frustration I felt (and still feel) about this is nothing compared to what this poor woman is going through knowing that her rapist’s sentence is nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
This is the problem with rape culture. As one Facebook post I saw (and now can’t find) stated: We send our boys to college with pockets full of condoms and we send our girls to college with rape whistles.
The Stanford rapist has stated he will be doing presentations on college campuses about the dangers of drinking and promiscuous sex. This is because despite conviction, he has yet to admit he raped this girl. He chalks it up to them being drunk and, essentially, her being a whore and waking up with regrets.
Let’s get this straight. She was unconscious and unable to consent. When he was approached while raping her, he ran. He knew what he was doing was wrong. He may have been drunk, but he wasn’t too drunk to know what he was doing was wrong (or to remove the girl’s clothing). The argument, “we were both drunk” is not an excuse. This is rape culture.
In case you’re curious, here are 22 more signs we live in a rape culture.
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Facebook memes from this situation.
We live in a rape culture. That’s a problem.