Consent is everything. It really is that simple.
It's pretty ridiculous that here and now, a considerable way through 2016, we are still telling people not to have sex with anyone else against their will. It truly is baffling to read, see and hear what modern society's concept of rape really is.
If you aren't already familiar; on June 2nd Brock Turner, an American teen, was sentenced to six months in county jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman on Stanford University campus 17 months prior. Yes, she was unconscious. She wrote a powerful letter to Brock, detailing her feelings about the case and essentially, underlining how, because of his selfish actions, her life will likely never be the same again. And yet he is serving just half a year as it was thought a longer sentence would have had a 'severe impact on him'. Prosecutors had asked for Turner to be sentenced to six years in a state prison. The maximum for the three felony charges - assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object - was 14 years. Again, he is serving just six months in county jail. It is thought that Turner will appeal his conviction.
His defence lawyers argued that his victim, now 23, was so intoxicated from alcohol that she wasn't to know whether he did or did not assault her. They argued that, as she can only remember events prior to and following the incident, there is no concrete evidence suggesting he did indeed attack her. I mean, other than the two teenage boys on bikes who caught Turner in the act, obviously. It is important that people everywhere know that, even despite the message this case brings, the right thing to do after witnessing or suffering a sexual assault, is to speak up.
Enough is enough. It is time we ended rape culture, once and for all. Rape cultures demonstrates the ways in which society blames victims of sexual assault and normalizes male sexual violence. It is frequently preached about via social media and when a case like this one comes to light, the amount of support from strangers is astonishing- yet we are still teaching our children not to be raped, instead of teaching them not to rape. Brock Turner's father claims his son's life is going to be ruined over "20 minutes of action". This is not a typo. This is a direct quote. It was argued whether or not prison was the appropriate consequence for his son, who he reported was "totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity". Yeah, so totally committed that he took advantage of an unconscious woman against her will.
Brock Turner's childhood friend also spoke up, claiming it wasn't fair to base the next decade of his life on the decision of a girl who remembers little other than the amount she had to drink. She argued 'political correctness', and remarked that "rape on campuses isn't always because people are rapists. This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgement".
Brock Turner was caught in the act. He was found behind a dumpster, physically abusing a half naked, unconscious woman. Police and medical staff made notes of the dirt, cuts, bruises and vaginal abrasions that were discovered covering the body of the woman. These are not idiot boys and girls. This is a victim and a rapist.
Let's get this straight. Rape is rape. Non consensual sex, under any circumstances, is not acceptable. Consent is the word 'yes'. It is verbal willingness. Anything else - silence, physical or verbal refusal, unconsciousness, anything. If your partner initially decides to engage in sexual activity, and then changes their mind, that is not consent. If there is any doubt in your mind that the human you are about to be intimate with might not reciprocate your feelings, you should not even question whether you should proceed. Brock Turner's friend's letter is the perfectly illustratration of the blatant problems society has with the way consent is spoken about and described, and the insidious influence of rape culture.
"Men destroy women's lives, as individuals and collectively, every time they perpetrate these kinds of attacks. And then they try to protect one another: 'He was a good guy,' 'He deserves compassion.' But at what point does compassion extend towards women who live in fear and trauma due to men like Brock who are, truly, everywhere? Who are everywhere because they are raised by and surrounded by men who consider sexual assault to constitute '20 minutes of action?' This is literally what rape culture is: the idea that sex is something for men, that men get from women, at any cost. Rape is sex, under patriarchy. And men's desire is always excusable, always acceptable, always a bigger priority than women's safety, well-being, and dignity."- Meghan Murphy
I stand with all victims of assault, regardless of the outcome their abusers did or did not face.
Read the harrowing statement from Brock Turner's victim here. https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra?utm_term=.tw02jmNQM#.wmdOx4rD8