Brock Turner, Rape Culture, and I'm Tired, So F*cking Tired
I’ve been staring at this blank page, hands on keys, for hours now. I keep letting myself get distracted by house-browsing on Zillow, tidying up kids’ shoes and toys, checking emails. For all the emotions I’ve experienced over this story the past several days, sitting to actually write about it at this moment seems impossible.
It’s exhausting. It’s all so exhausting. All of it. Every bit.
I think about Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Brock Turner to just six months in prison and three years probation for raping an unconscious woman, after being convicted of the following felony counts: 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. I think about how Judge Persky noted the victim’s “very eloquent statement” as he considered the punishment, and determined “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him” before granting him just six months in prison, the same sentence Naomi Campbell received for hitting a photographer and just two months more than Lindsay Lohan got for stealing a necklace.
And I’m just tired.
I think about Brock Turner’s father, his letter to the judge begging for leniency. Because his son isn’t himself anymore and isn’t hungry for steak or pretzels. Because “these verdicts have broken and shattered him” and not his actions. Because a lengthy sentence would be too much to pay for “20 minutes of action.” I think about that “20 minutes of action” portion a lot and it’s like my skin becomes heavier, my stomach shrinks and my ribs collapse from this weight of sadness and confusion.
And it just makes me tired.
I think about Brock Turner’s female friend, Leslie Rasmussen, who wrote that she doesn’t believe “it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten[-plus] years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges.” Who said that what Turner did to his victim wasn’t the same as a woman being kidnapped, because “That is a rapist. These [college kids like Turner] are not rapists.” That a photo of Turner from high school where “the caption is even ‘d’awwww’ because he was always the sweetest to everyone” means he must be innocent. Who asked the judge to “stop being politically correct” and consider her friend rather than this woman, all women who are raped, because political correctness is the real enemy and not rapists. I think about the internalized misogyny, the absolute unspeakable and willful ignorance, the trust friends place in this man over the woman who witnesses saw being raped by him.
And I’m just tired.
I think about Brock Turner. Who didn’t take any accountability for his actions, who only apologized for drinking, not for raping this young woman, despite her repeated pleas that this apology is what she wanted, needed. And my body and mind won’t let me think about him anymore.
Because I’m just too tired. And I’m nauseated and I’m disgusted and the tears are stinging my eyes but I’m too tired to cry, I’m too tired of all of this, because it never stops, it will never stop, and what do we do? What do we even do? What about my daughter, what about all the daughters and all the women and me and my friends and what do we do? Who will protect them, us? I’m just so tired. Of all of it.
But then I think of this woman. This survivor. I think of the letter she wrote to the judge. And I think of how the judge may have ignored it, but we listened. I think about the millions of views and shares. And I think about how tired and disgusted and devastated she was and must still be. Because, god, what do you do? What do you even do? And this is what she did. She told her story. And she shared it. And she stood up for us all.
And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.
And I am inspired. Because this world is an exhausting, sickening fucking place. But if this powerful, brave young woman can fight, we must all conjure the strength and energy to fight beside her.