The Stanford Sexual Assault

Before I go on, I’d like to state in no uncertain terms, that all forms of assault, including rape, is wrong. Secondly, the Standford rape victim, Brock Allen Turner, should have been sentenced to more than 6 months of county jail and probation. Personally, I think the punishment, or lack thereof, and the reason behind it (the judge felt that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on him as Turner was a champion swimmer who once aspired to the Olympics) is simply shameful. I wonder–what would’ve made the judge take the case more seriously? If Turner had murdered or severely wounded her after the rape? Or if Turner had raped her with a body part instead of his fingers? The fact that I have to wonder about this is indication of the type of world we live in.

In the recent years, movements like SlutWalk have gained traction and popularity. Their goal? To tell the world that no victim should be blamed in the event of a sexual assault. Specifically, she should not be held accountable for any assault to her because of what she chooses to wear. Activists say: “Do whatever you want; wear whatever you want; you should not be touched in the first place. And of course, in a philistine effort to drive their point home, scantility clad women take to the street once a year in a protest march. While their intentions are good, they are, however, incredibly naive.

It is this same naivety I felt ran rampant in the letter the Stanford victim read to Brock Turner. She said: “I was drunk and unconcious but you should not have touched me in the first place.” She is absolutely correct, but, she is also being incredibly idealistic.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place.

Yes, having ideals is a great thing. Mindsets must change so boys like Brock Turner don’t assault women. Mindsets must change so these boys blame themselves instead of substances. They must change so men don’t blame their victims for their actions, like we saw in the Delhi rape case. Every movement that aims to educate the world; every assault case that goes viral, every individual who is punished for his or her violence–makes a small difference towards the end goal. Causes like these make the world a better place, and we should support them.

But this is what I take issue with. In their bid to strive for their cause, they neglect reality. The reality is this: it is going to take a lot more time and many more generations before we see beliefs shift. Meanwhile, we live in a imperfect world, in which, despite our best efforts, people do things they’re not supposed to be doing. While no one has the right to assault you, many won’t take your right seriously. When we neglect to mention reality in the struggle for our cause, we send the wrong signal to women everywhere.

We should be talking about what we can take responsibility for in order to protect ourselves, while we wait in (joyful) hope for the world’s enlightenment. We should teach our children that while there is an area beyond our control, there is another that we do have control over. We must ensure they take responsbility for their part in the latter.

For example, in the past, when I’ve visited India, I’ve always taken care to dress conservatively (neck to ankles). I wouldn’t dare to venture out alone at night. Why? Because I understand the environment in which I am operating. Most people who’ve heard me say this have been outraged. “You should not have to compromise! You should not be raped, regardless!” Sadly, I do have to compromise, and sadly, if I did not, there is a high chance I would be raped. I know my rights; but that doesn’t change a damned thing. I have the right to walk around Bangalore in a bikini if I wanted to. But should I, knowing that I am in an environment that I’ve no control over? Probably not. By thinking this way, the circle of responsbility meets with the environment that is within our control.

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Of course, assuming responsbility in no part prevents a negative outcome, but it goes a long way in reassuring us that we did all we could, with the little we have.

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