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At 20 Years Old, You Shouldn't Have to 'Learn' That Rape is Wrong

08/06/2016 17:29 | Updated 08 June 2016

It was apparently '20 minutes of action.' Isn't a 6-month prison sentence and loss of your appetite for steaks a steep punishment for just '20 minutes' of sexual assaulting an unconscious girl? According to Brock Turner's father - yes, it is.

It's a shocking testament to the mind-set of some young men - and apparently some fathers - that being drunk deems women sexually available to whoever sees them first. Dan Turner's description of his son's sexual assault as 'the unfortunate results' of binge drinking shines a very scary light on the world's view of rape.

I'm no expert, but I'm certain 'urge to rape' isn't a side effect of one too many vodka red bulls, and it's terrifying to think that some people deem sexual assault not only an unfortunate, but almost unavoidable side effect of being young and drunk at university.

Judge Aaron Persky settled on a 6-month sentence as Turner's punishment because of his lack of prior convictions and his supposed display of remorse. What I don't understand is how a person can show remorse for a crime when they have never admitted to the crime itself? How can Turner be deemed remorseful when he doesn't accept that what he did was wrong?

And just because it's star-swimmer Turner's first crime, it doesn't reduce the severity of it nor the lifelong impact it will have on his victim, and it definitely doesn't make it any less of a crime. In an incredibly moving speech to her attacker, 'Emily Doe' urges that 'we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error.' As long as young middle-class men get light sentences and public sympathy when they commit sexual crimes, then no example will be set, and nothing will change. If attackers continually receive minimised sentences then rape itself will be minimised, until eventually the word, and the crime, will lose all meaning.

Campus rape is becoming all too familiar, and so are the victim-blaming cries that follow. Being well brought-up, talented and ambitious shouldn't exempt you from being punished for your actions. And it certainly doesn't give you sexual rights over anyone you want.

As Turner is hit with his punishment, his friend Leslie Rassmussen has described it as a result of 'political correctness'. It is simply a formality that the court must endure despite Turner's obvious innocence, just something to please the press. She goes on to explain that Turner is not a rapist because he didn't kidnap his victim, and because Stanford University, the 'party school' he was at, 'encourages drinking'.

But when did drinking become synonymous with rape?

Being drunk doesn't influence what's right and wrong. No will always means no. Maybe will always means no. Unconsciousness has forever, and will always, mean no.

What part of that logic apparently doesn't apply to university campuses? Why do so many young men see it as a free pass? A world in which not only does 'no' suddenly mean 'yes', but actually becomes 'please'?

Rassmussen urges the public not to label Turner a monster. But if he isn't a monster, and his sexual assault was neither planned nor deemed wrong in his confused mind, then what is he? Why does he not see his actions as wrong? If Turner isn't unusual, and has never been a danger to society, then is he just an average 20-year-old boy? And if he is, then why has sex with an unconscious or unwilling girl become so normalised among young men at university that it is no longer even regarded as wrong?

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