This is my personal response to the verdict and aftermath of Brock Turner. It is also a message to college men everywhere:
Perhaps now is the time that we as a nation stop using someone’s intelligence, athleticism and financial and social influence as reasons to excuse him from such a heinous crime as sexual assault. Perhaps now is the time to translate these strengths into an expectation of young men everywhere. An expectation that says, you, of all people, should know better. You, as your family and friends claim, have strong moral fiber, and a very successful life ahead of you, so shouldn’t you be setting the standard for young men in our country? Because if we can’t trust the affluent, intelligent, “well-rounded” men- our supposed rising leaders of this country- to treat women with respect, how can we expect anyone else to? This young man should be held to a higher standard, to teach all the other men out there- this is not ok. Sexual assault is never ok. No matter how powerful or successful you are, or how much potential you may have. Being too drunk to say no does not mean yes. Ever.
If anything, being in this position of power- which this young, white, affluent, intelligent athlete is- makes his actions even more disgusting. He had an upbringing that should have taught him that raping a woman is wrong, regardless of whether she is conscious or not, or even if you aren’t sure. To argue that this man should be excused for his behavior because he has a bright future seems backwards to me. Is it disappointing that his life is changed forever? Yes, of course. I’m sure his family had very high hopes for him. But what should be more disappointing is that young men in this country who have every convenience are being raised to think that this type of behavior is acceptable, defensible, no big deal. “Just 20 minutes.”
Let’s use this horrible event as an opportunity to tell young men- especially young men with every privilege and opportunity at their fingertips- that we expect better. We expect you to set the example, the tone, in this country, of how to treat young women. I know you can do it. Young women and men everywhere are counting on you. So stop making excuses and start living a better life. Find meaningful, consensual relationships with others, don’t just take something because you have been raised to expect and demand whatever you want, even if people don’t agree or consent. Let’s vow to stop upholding the tradition that the powerful can continue to prey on the powerless, and get away with it.
I am making a request of all college men: next time you find yourself in a potential sexual encounter, do this woman a favor and stop for one minute and think. Ask yourself, is this woman coherent enough to know what’s happening? Would I get in trouble for this? Could I look her father in the eye one day? Would I want this to happen to my sister, girlfriend, best friend? If the answer is no, or you aren’t sure, or you are too drunk to think it through, then stop. Do the right thing. Get this woman somewhere safe. Then go buy yourself a cup of coffee.
To college men everywhere: We are watching you with high hopes that you will set a new standard in this country of how to treat women with respect. Aim to be like Carl-Fredrik and Peter, the heroes of the hour. Because you of all people should know better.
If you have not read the victim’s response yet, please take the time to. Warning, for women who are victims of sexual assault, it may be triggering for you.