Tuesday, June 07, 2016

My Turn


I've talked about this before so I'm not going to repeat myself but I still feel like I have to say something. I'm going to ramble all over the place, but you should be used to that from me.

The hot news moment is a case about a Stanford student, convicted of sexually assaulting a stranger but given a severely reduced sentence because "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him." Seriously? Who the fuck cares about him? Why doesn't the judge care about his victim, who already has a severe impact on her life from this criminal's actions to her? It is estimated that only 32% of rape or sexual assault cases are reported. This leaves 68% - 68% - unreported. This is why. There is no justice. Being a member of an elite class means you can do no wrong. Blame the alcohol, blame the situation, blame the victim.

I'm not going to talk about male privilege - this case screams it. I'm not even going to talk about rape, the crime of rape, what it's like to be raped.

The thing is my Facebook feed is filled with memes and graphics and news posts. Most of it is outrage at the sentence (and we all should be outraged), attacks on the criminal who got off easy (yes, he is a criminal), there are a few posts about the diatribe from the criminal's father (victim blaming at its finest), and a good deal of posts about the victim's letter to her attacker (I couldn't read it all though I tried, I really did).

I don't mind that people are talking about this. Rape and sexual assault are things we don't really talk about. The problem is, just like the Steubenville case I wrote about three years ago, people are going to stop talking about it when the next hot news moment comes along. And then the next time we see a case like this the results will be the same. "The poor criminal, he had such a bright future. We need to protect his chances because his future is at stake." Nothing changes.

So, we've all heard the statistics, right? One in six American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. One in six. Do you know six women in your life? You know someone who has been sexually assaulted. You probably know several, but you may or may not know that about them. And it's a pretty good bet that someone you know is having a very hard time right now. When cases like this hit the social medial world the way this one has, suddenly triggers are everywhere and in the most unexpected places. I don't want people to stop talking about this, because rape culture is real and dialogue is the first step in doing something about it, but please consider the victims and survivors. The focus is in the wrong place. It's not about the alcohol, it's not about the clothes, it's not about the parties, and it's definitely not about the bright futures that are dashed because someone made a choice (though it could be, in part, about the bright futures that are not dashed despite said choice).

I've strayed far from the point I hoped to make, I think. This case is not about me at the same time it is. It is about every single one of the one in six. It is about the unnamed victim whose entire life has been altered because some privileged kid made a choice and some judge thought he was more important than she is. Justice.



Entire life.

And the real kicker here is that even if she did get some semblance of justice, it would not have helped those things.

Somewhere, one or more of the women in your life are hurting right now.  Maybe more than they were a week ago because of the news. Just: don't forget that.