Gender-based Violence
Comment 1

To Brock Turner’s Father: Gentle People Do Not Rape

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In your letter to the judge, you write that your son, the convicted rapist, is a person with “an easygoing personality — that people like to be around, whether they are male or female.” You proceed to state that your son has “a very gentle and quiet nature and a smile that is truly welcoming to those around him.” I have something to tell you, Mr. Turner: Gentle people do not rape. Your son is not a victim here. Your son is not paying “a steep price for 20 minutes of action”. Your son is a rapist – and for the crime he committed, his sentence is anything but steep. It is a travesty.

Brock’s life has not been “deeply altered by the events of January 17th and 18th”, as you claim in your letter – Brock’s life has been altered by his decision to rape a woman. Referring to it as “actions” or “events” is a ridiculous attempt to not acknowledge what your son actually did to this woman, and the fact that no matter how “altered” his life is, it pales in comparison to the damage and devastation his actions had on her life. Your letter does not mention the words “rape”, “attack”, “violate” or “crime” once – which shows how you seem to believe that your son did not actually commit any of those crimes, but in fact took part in “20 minutes of action” that he is now, in your opinion, too harshly judged and punished for.

You lament the impact of him being a registered sex offender will have on his future and his and your family’s life. He has to register as a sex offender because HE IS A SEX OFFENDER. Brock is not the victim of anything in this whole scenario, the woman who he raped is. Brock is the one who always had a choice, who always had a chance to not do what he did – and he choose to rape. He chose to violate a woman. He took away her right to choose, her right to her body, her right to safety. He chose to commit a crime. Everything that followed is a direct consequence of that choice and that action – and the person who had no say in any of this is his victim. She is the one who is paying a steep price – not your son. Alcohol may have played a part in the choices your son made, but it does not justify them or excuse them.

You make it seem as if Brock is a “good kid” who made a mistake. Brock perhaps was a good kid – but now he is a rapist, and there is no taking that back. That doesn’t mean he can’t do good things in his life going forward, or find ways to try to offset the damage he has done by serving his community – but none of that will erase what he did. None of it will make his victim forget those “20 minutes of action” it took your son to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

I know you probably think that this could have happened to anyone, and that this whole ordeal is something that in fact happened to your son – but you are wrong. This did not happen to your son – your son did this to someone else. This also could not have happened to anyone, because most people would not rape. To behave as if refraining from taking advantage and raping an incapacitated woman is something we should give young men credit and acknowledgement for is grossly offensive to the vast majority of men of all ages who would never commit such a crime, no matter what the circumstances, sober or drunk. To act as if the fact that your son had not raped anyone else outside of those “20 minutes of action” should somehow mean his crime is less punishable, less wrong, is not only offensive to the victim of your son’s crime, but offensive to victims of all sorts of violent crimes. Every violent offender has a first time, and none of them have committed similar acts before that first time – but it does not mean they should not be punished and held accountable, nor does it mean they wouldn’t commit a similar crime again if given a chance.

Your son is already reaping the benefits of his white male privilege. Had he been black, Latino, immigrant, trust me – he would not be walking away from this with a ridiculous 6-month sentence. This case is a sad reminder of how broken the justice system is, and how sexual offenders – especially young white men – continuously escape such crimes with impunity or a slap on the wrist.

Your son, Mr. Turner, is not someone with a gentle and quiet nature. Your son is a convicted rapist. Sugarcoating that does not help him, or anyone else. The best thing you can do for him now is to love him, as a parent should – but also to help him understand that what he did was terribly wrong and there is no justification for it. Do not tell him that “it’s okay”, because it’s not. Do not tell him “it could have been anyone”, because that is not true. Do not tell him “she was asking for it” – because no one ever is, no matter what they are wearing, how much they had to drink or what they had said or done earlier. And do not tell him he is paying “a steep price”, because he isn’t.

She is.

Featured image: Penn State / Flickr, Creative Commons

This entry was posted in: Gender-based Violence

by

Emma is an advocate and a feminist who is passionate about using creative and innovative approaches to expanding women's and girls' opportunity to live the kind of lives the choose. A native of Finland, Emma has worked in the U.S., Kenya, India and Brazil, and currently lives in Tanzania with her husband and toddler son. Follow @Emmasalor on Twitter and Emma.saloranta on Instagram.

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