Empathizing with Rapists Instead of Victims

Brock Turner

Brock Turner

Why do we so often empathize with the privileged even when they commit brutal crimes?

Rape is just “20 minutes of action.” And it’s non-violent.

That’s how the father of convicted rapist, Brock Turner, saw it.

Judge Persky was also blinded to the victim’s pain by the predator’s distress. 

Brock Turner’s name has been dragged through the dirt, he must now register as a sex offender, and he lost his Stanford scholarship. Punishment enough.

And so Mr. Turner will likely serve just three months in jail.

Not seeing from her point of view

On the night of the assault the victim, called “Jane Doe” for her protection, had planned to eat dinner, read, watch TV and go to bed. But her sister was visiting and wanted to party at a Stanford fraternity. So Jane, desiring more time with her sister, went too.

Jane had some drinks at the party. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed with blood and bandages on her hands and elbow. Here is some of what she told the judge:

My sister picked me up (from the hospital), face wet from tears and contorted in anguish… She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up. I was not okay.

You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice.

Brock Turner

Brock Turner

Rape victims commonly suffer from anxiety, depression, and trauma. Their rate of post traumatic stress is higher than combat veterans.

And rape is the crime women fear most, outside of murder.

Yet Jane’s suffering merits a mere three months in county jail?

It’s her fault: look how she was dressed

In another crime against empathy, we too often blame her instead of him.

The defense asked Jane what she was wearing the night she was attacked.

I’m reminded that women are frequently barred from fraternity parties unless they dress sexy. And since frats so often control campus social life, women usually conform. And then if they are raped, it’s their fault for dressing sexy.

Turns out, Jane had worn a beige cardigan. More librarian than vixen.

But it’s not the dress, anyway. Women dress sexy all the time and the vast majority of men manage to control themselves. Because men can control themselves.

It’s not his fault: He was drunk — It’s her fault: She was drunk

In a statement to the judge, Brock blamed his drinking. “It wasn’t me. It was the alcohol!”

Judge Persky granted probation after taking into account his age, academic achievement and alcohol consumption.

The judge continued: “There is less moral culpability attached to the defendant, who is … intoxicated.”

So drinking makes her partially culpable? Even as drinking excuses him?

Women’s promiscuity is the problem

Mr. Turner says his actions were partly the product of sexual promiscuity.

But we typically only complain about promiscuous women. “Promiscuous men” sounds odd. Boys will be boys!

So it’s her fault again. Because she is a woman. And women are promiscuous these days.

Why empathize with powerful criminals?

Brock Turner would have probably gone to prison for a long time if he had been a poor, black kid from the hood, as many have pointed out.

Why do we empathize with the powerful — even when they do horrible things?

Powerful people have more control over ideas, since they are more likely to be media owners and writers, politicians and judges, popes and priests. We are more used to hearing their ideas than hearing the perspectives of the powerless.

So the notion that clothing causes rape, or that drinking gets “him” off the hook while putting “her” on it, makes sense to a lot of us. Even though these things really make no sense.

Powerful members of society also see themselves as good. So the privileged white judge has a hard time seeing the privileged white college athlete as a bad guy. And they’re both Stanford Cardinals!

The good news: public outrage against Brock Turner’s light sentence shows progress!

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 10, 2016, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. This case exemplifies how the judicial system is deliberately set up to benefit privileged white men and also proves why many women don’t feel safe coming forward after being sexually assaulted. By blaming the victim instead of holding the rapist accountable, the judicial system is creating a world where boys can feel invincible, that they can treat women in any way they want without getting punished. The victim’s statement is a perfect example of the way the court mistreats the victims of sexual assault cases. Due to her blackout, she was unable to remember anything from that night, and somehow that became Turner’s main argument, and the judge went along with him. Instead of Turner being bombarded with questions, she was forced to say what she was wearing, if she would ever cheat, her sex life with her boyfriend, and even more unimportant questions. A quote from her victim’s statement has stayed with me over the past few years because it shows how the system that is supposed to bring her assaulter to justice ends up causing her way more hurt than she initially was carrying. She said, “it is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.” For the court to imply that Turner is somehow the victim in this situation, undermines the pain and hardship that he caused someone else. Turner’s incredibly short sentence discredits her and all other victims of their pain and struggle.

  2. This story makes my heart heavy. Rape is something that will scar you for the rest of your life. I believe that because Brock is white and his family is wealthy its the reason he got the minimal sentence he did. There are other people that are incarcerated right now for a much longer time for a non violent crime. He RAPED a woman. He took every emotion she could feel away from her. So there was drinking involved, so what! That shouldn’t justify his actions and shouldn’t be the reason “Why she got raped”. There was probably thousands of other men and women drinking at that party, was there any other rape victims due to alcohol? No, so how is this excuse a good enough one to get his monster a three month sentence in jail? And as far as his family goes how dare they point fingers and blame this on that young woman. Your son is a RAPIST and you will one day regret everything you ever did for him during this time in his life. He deserved a harsh punishment that he did not receive. There are African American men serving years for rape.

    Our justice system needs a lot of work. We live in a world where we are treated a certain way depending on the color of our skin and in situations like this no matter the color of your skin or gender that you are everyone should have the equal amount of punishment.

  3. Reblogged this on L8in.

  4. What Brock Turner did was absolutely inhumane to the core, and how the judge can live knowing that he gave Turner such a light sentence is beyond anything I could comprehend. But the issue relates the underlying values of society. Society too often, across cultures and the ages has valued the social standing and reputation of a man leagues over the females’. Sons were seen as blessings, while daughters were seen as burdens as curses, and this very unbiased mentality carries over to rape culture. “Boys will be boys” speaks to the nature of men being primal and unable to control their desires, but what a woman wears when she is assaulted highlights a key point in this debate. It shows that women are expected to be in control of their promiscuity and conceal it in every way possible while men are excused and allowed to run rampant because its in their nature. If society is so forgiving, it is without doubt that the judge and Turner’s own family is too. No one mentioned the education the victim had; the focus was on Turner’s achievements and his downfall. This victim became another name in the books, but Turner became a fallen hero. Society puts men on pedestals and when they fall, society cushions it, easing the pain and being forgiving. For women however, they are attacked left and right. The domestic abuse case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is a prime example of sympathizing with the abuser because he is beloved. However, if a woman was in that same position, she’d be dragged through the mud and left to rot. Gender roles and expectations are a huge factor in empathizing with the wrong side.

  5. Kaylie Solomon

    If you drive while intoxicated, you get a DUI and get arrested. You lose your driver license, pay a bunch of fines, and are required to put this on every background check for life. This is what happens when no one is injured. If someone is injured, it becomes a felony and you will receive jail time. So why, in the case of a drunk rapist, who intentionally hurt someone, only receiving 3 months in jail? The fathers comment of “20 minutes of action” is the perfect example of privilege. So if I decide for 1 minute to cheat off another students test, I shouldn’t receive a 0 and be kicked out of the school, because it was only 1 minute of action, right? I read the victims letter to the rapist, and the most truthful part of her letter was when she said that if it hadn’t happened to her, it would have happened to someone else. This is the thing about rape: it is intentional, it is planned, it is a crime that deserves harsh punishment. The rapist himself even said that he wanted some “action” that night. If he wasn’t a rich, white, and successful man he would have gotten the punishment he deserved.

  6. My mother claims to be a feminist and she sides with Brock Turner. Actually its more accurate she sides agains Jane. She will constantly talk about “why was she at that party, she’s 22!” or “you have to take responsibility for when you hookup drunk”. She almost completely ignores how Jane was passed out and could not give consent. Its honestly sickens me that my mother could be so blind. I hear her yell at the tv “He wasn’t a rapist!!!”. Its very obvious she has this idea that a rapist can only be a rapist of he stalks and girl and kidnaps her. Rape is not a personality, it is an violent action that anyone can choose to make and (more importantly) not make. Many are outraged by the lenient punishment but my mother thinks its too harsh. I believe this is due to the fact that my brother is 19 and likes to go to parties. My mother can’t stand to see a young white kid go to jail for a drunken rape because what if it was her son? Of course it shouldn’t matter. Either way, I don’t agree with her opinion. I believe he should go to jail for years. He was trying to have sex with a passed out girl. She has physical and mental wounds after. That doesn’t come from consensual sex.

    • Sounds like your mom has internalized a lot of ideas that privilege White, Male, privileged people. It’s strange how normal that mindset can can seem when you’re inside it, And how crazy it seems when you aren’t inside of it.

  7. It is upsetting how men think it is the women fault that they get raped because of how she dresses, a women can’t go out anymore without the fact of getting raped is in the back of their minds just because these men can’t seem to control themselves. Women should have the freedom to dress how they want without worrying about being raped. To me it seems these men who are convicted of rape just keep coming up with excuses like “oh we were both drunk” so its not either of our faults, wrong! no one told them to get messed up where you can control your actions. I hope the rates of rape go down and fewer people have to go through this no one deserves too.

    • It’s a convenient way to encourage rape.

      Luckily our culture is changing.

      And in fact men are harmed by that mentality too. When a woman is raped she frequently loses interest in sex. And that hurts other men. Women become untrusting of men. And that hurts other men. And the mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, wives and girlfriends are harmed by these men — which all harms men, too.

  8. “Why do we so often empathize with the privileged even when they commit brutal crimes?”

    Good question. This incident reminded me of Brian Banks an African American who was wrongfully accused of rape. At the time, he was a young promising High School football star who ended up serving five years in prison for a crime he never committed. He was 16 at the time and was tried as an adult… On the other hand, even with overwhelming evidence, Turner is only going to be in jail for probably 3 months. This is a clear double standard, where one’s status and skin color is enough to make the seriousness of a crime disappear. It perpetuates rape culture, and also sends the wrong message to women and men: women have to be careful and learn how to protect themselves, while SOME men can easily do whatever they want. Worst of all is that the victim has been blamed, again. Not only did she have to relive — and newly discover — details about what had been done to her, but at the end she did not receive the justice she deserved! This is truly sickening.

  9. When I found out about this on the news, my heart kept pounding faster and faster. My blood was boiling! Why is Turner only sentenced to jail for a few months? Because he is white and privileged. His father made excuses saying that sending him to prison wouldnt be good for him. Are you serious?! He needs to be punished for what he did. He violated and assaulted an intoxicated female who was unconcious. He is a disgusting piece of sh*t. And the judge is too if he thinks a few months would do justice. The judge was probably paid out money. I pray for that girl and hope she stays strong.

    • A slap on the wrist sure can create panic among women, who know that light sentences make rape more likely. And you feel completely dismissed as a gender.

      Even one of the male jurors was upset. He told a reporter that he felt like all the time and effort the jury made was dismissed, too.

  10. One thing that amazes me throughout this case is that a Swimming organization gave a significantly better sentencing and code of conduct than our judicial system. The USA Swimming organization banned Turner for life, therefore dismantling his chance at being an Olympic swimmer, while in court he only received a 6-month sentence.

    I’m glad to have seen the case blow up, because this kind of sentencing helped people realize how stratified and patriarchal our society is, further progressing feminism. This is undoubtedly one of thousands of cases that have received this kind of sentencing, but most if not all have been missed by the media. Now that this taboo of rape has be acknowledged in our society I hope that there is a change in sentencing guideline throughout the years in America


    • I’m glad to see the case blow up too. Now judges would seem to be less likely to let a man off with such a ridiculous sentence. And potential rapists just might get the idea that everyone will learn about what they did and find them disgusting. And then they can get a life sentence like they gave their victims.

      Light sentences encourage more rape and more harm.

  11. It seems that the powerful look over the young white privileged male because they assume they’ve been good all this time. That, “oh they’ve only had one mistake, but they’ve done all this good”. Wrong, they have never been caught doing all the bad. If the rapist was a poor young black kid, they would assume that they’ve always done bad. They need to be taught a lesson, doing this is wrong. When in reality, they probably are more honest than the privileged boys. And blaming the victim is because of a double standard and contradictory words. “You can’t come unless you look sexy” then you blame them for looking sexy. Telling girls they don’t look good, that they should change. But when they starve themselves and try to change for society they are blamed and told they did it for attention. All in all, it’s not the victims fault. Its the world and society who needs to change.

    • They don’t seem to realize that most rapists are repeat rapists — who just haven’t been caught. Or that fraternity boys and jocks are especially prone to rape.

  12. It goes to show how we treat the victims of such atrocities by giving the assailant all of the attention and popularity for doing something so horrible. I also find it crazy that we have to protect the identity of the victim because our own society is destined to ostracize her and put the blame on HER for being raped. Inexcusable.

    • “It’s crazy that we have to protect the identity of the victim because our own society is destined to ostracize her and put the blame on HER for being raped. Inexcusable.”


  13. When I first read the victim’s letter, it shook me up. It was very graphic, and very upsetting. As a victim of rape, it brought back a lot of feelings that I had when I began to try and discuss what had happened with friends and family. Immediately, a huge portion of the blame was placed on me. Unfortunately, we live in a rape culture. Victim blaming is very common, and has become completely normalized. Brock Turner is a privileged wealthy white male, and will automatically be seen as the “good guy”, when in reality, he committed a terrible crime, and should pay for what he has done. Unfortunately, that is not how things are currently playing out. I sincerely hope the case is re-opened with a new judge, and Brock receives the sentence he deserves.

    Additionally, it is great that this case is receiving so much attention, but it is just one injustice out of thousands, that happened to catch the attention of the media. We must not forget that this is not an isolated case, but a horrendously common occurrence. I hope that we see a change in our ingrained rape culture in my lifetime.

    • Hopefully this case will affect more people in the future. I just read an editorial in the San Jose Mercury News advocating for a change in sentencing guidelines based on this case.

      And I’m so sorry that you had to go through an experience like this.

  14. It still truly amazes me how ignorant people are. The Brock Turner case was upsetting enough without his father mentioning the “20 minutes of action” comment. You also have to wonder if Brock Turner’s disregard for women is a learned behavior. I was shocked to discover that Brock Turner has a sister, so to hear his father describe such a heinous act as “20 minutes of action” is alarming.
    It is so easy these days for people to blame the victim. The credibility of women is always the one that is questioned. People assume the woman must have done something wrong. Almost as if she either deserved it or was asking for it. I’m wondering when the time will come where we will take a woman’s word for what it is, he word. Whether or not she was dressed provocatively or not. Whether or not she decided to approach the man first or not. Rape is rape and should be treated as such.
    I’m tired of hearing excuses and people blaming their actions on peer pressure. Yes, peer pressure exists but at a certain point in life, it’s time to take accountability for your own actions.
    I commend the victim for how she handled things as well as for the letter she wrote. It’s so important to speak up until you are heard.

  15. I heard of this case for the first time maybe a week ago, from my cousin. I was so disturbed by Turner and his father. I’m disgusted with Stanford, the Judge, the few students that were told to give their opinions of Turner and sided with him. When did rape become okay? Societies view on this case was astonishing. What kind of world do we live where it is okay to blame a victim for a man rapeing them? Its like saying that it would be the victims fault for stabbing a burglar for intruding on their home. Well he came into my home, he made the decision that is morally wrong, and I am the one convicted because I defended myself. Brock turner was not charged rape of an intoxicated person, or rape of an unconscious person, but for exual penetration of an intoxicated woman, sexual penetration of an unconscious woman, and assault with intent to commit rape. The victim was clearly unaware of what happened to her, this boy should have been given the maximum sentence for all five charges. He clearly showed no signs of regret, no guilt for his crime. This was not the victims fault, it is never the victims fault. This will be the reason some victims of rape will not come forward. This was a horrible incident that will follow Jane mentally, psychically, and emotionally follow her the rest of her life. My sincerest apologies go out to the victim.

  16. Jose Antonio Buenrostro

    Rather than asking why do we empathize with the criminal, I would ask how could anyone empathize with the criminal? In my opinion it is quite unlikely that the judge who ruled to only incarcerate Turner for three months, truly feels that three months of jail time is enough of a punishment for a crime such as this one. Similarly, if Turner’s father had been questioned about a similar case, not involving his son, would his reactions be the same? As mentioned in the post and in many other articles related to this incident, if he were to be a young minority male from the hood, he would be facing much more serious consequences. This case is another in recent history that clearly shows the flaws in the justice system in the United States along with the sense of entitlement that many of the rich and powerful have. An act as horrid as this one should not have conditional trials, rather, all criminals should be tried under the same law with the same consequences. Cases such as this will continue to diminish the already questionable reliability of our justice system.

    • If the judge who ruled to only incarcerate Turner for three months truly feels that three months of jail time is not enough of a punishment for a crime such as this one, why did he give him that sentence? He could have given him several years — 14 as I recall.

  17. This was so disturbing to me when I first heard about the case. However, I was not surprised because now a days we live in a “rape culture world” where it is common to hear about a rape and no justice has been done. I think safe sex and safe drinking should be taught in high school in health class. Knowledge is power and health class should be put back in the curriculum because teenagers should be informed about everything so things like rape and abuse of alcohol can be taught and students learn.

    It is NEVER the victims fault and I do not understand how people are so arrogant like the father and say “Women’s promiscuity is the problem” or “It’s not his fault: He was drunk — It’s her fault: She was drunk.” Men and women both should drink responsibly and if women can control themselves so should men. I read something earlier about how Brock Turner Family Support Group posted on Facebook saying “It is every parent’s responsibility to teach their daughter about the dangers of excessive drinking.” How absurd is this? Excuse me this is just ridiculous. Every parents should teach their children, not just daughters sons too, about safe drinking.

    • It’s amazing the things that can seem natural than normal when you have been socialized into a particular, And Yet strange, way of seeing. At least we seem to be moving forward, given the outrage.

  18. The topic of Brock Turner case I believe goes deeper than just the overall privilege in the United States. This a case that highlights women inequality, poor rape myths, the PTSD of rape victims, the horrible way our justice system deals with rape and how deep of issue rape is on college campuses. The outrage of how this case was handled is about the only good quality to come out of the Brock Turner case. The one thing I would really like to comment on out of all those issues in this case is rape on college campuses. What a lot of media outlets failed to look at more closely in this case, was the school Stanford University. Stanford has hundred of cases on record in which they haven’t done anything for the person who was rape or anything TO the person who did rape. In fact, Stanford is currently under investigation with U.S Department of Education Office for Civil Rights for how poorly they have handled rape cases. In that investigation the school is being sued twice saying they did not follow Title XI. A violation that could if found guilty make Stanford lose all of their govt. funding. The school has over 259 cases where they have not followed protocol on a rape case on record, this Brock Turner case was the first time the school remotely came close to doing what they are supposed to. Stanford currently holds a higher number than Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Dartmouth. This case is about all the inequalities that occur during a rape case. But I believe after hearing that number, that this case is a turn in the right direction. That just maybe there is hope for future victims. Unfortunately, things have gotten so bad, that I’m one of the few individuals that look at this case as mere hope we might do better in the future.

    • Yes, I’m hoping that all of the attention that his been brought to this will work to educate the public and the people in power. And even if the judge screwed up, the outrage shows that we are moving forward.

  19. Sadly this story isn’t uncommon in America. It seems to be getting all the news and attention because this time it affected white, privileged America. It also helps that there were two good samaritans who testified in court and could say without a doubt that the Victim was unconscious. Most rape cases cannot even be prosecuted because it is always “her word” against “his.” Living in a society that accepts rape culture, most people will side with “him.”

    While I think it is good that the country is discussing this issue and finally giving rape victims a voice, I still cannot help but notice that people still slide into rape culture rhetoric. While we discuss that it should not matter what the victim was wearing, it is also noted that she had a beige sweater (God forbid it be a teal sweater!). I could not even help but feeling that with the Victim’s powerful statement, she felt some need to justify herself and share what she was wearing. She knew that people would always wonder if she did not state outright that she was not dressed sexy. It really should not matter if she was dressed as a librarian or a vixen, but it is said, to further prove Brock Turner is a rapist.

    It is discussed how she went to the party with her sister as if to say, “See, she was safe! She was following the rule of always having a buddy!” The Victim should have been able to attend a party by herself and not expect to get raped. That should be a given. Instead, we hear how Brock Turner even tried to kiss her sister, but her sister was able to push him off. I believe inferring that she clearly did not have much alcohol.

    These are only two examples of how our discussions of the events of that night perpetuate rape culture. Brock Turner is a rapist because he raped someone. The Victim is a victim because she was raped. End of story.

    While I think it is good that the country is discussing this issue and finally giving rape victims a voice, I still cannot help but notice that people still slide into rape culture rhetoric. While we discuss that it should not matter what the victim was wearing, it is also noted that she had a beige sweater (God forbid it be a teal sweater!). I could not even help but feeling that with the Victim’s powerful statement, she felt some need to justify herself and share what she was wearing. She knew that people would always wonder if she did not state outright that she was not dressed sexy. It really should not matter if she was dressed as a librarian or a vixen, but it is said, to further prove Brock Turner is a rapist.

    It is discussed how she went to the party with her sister as if to say, “See, she was safe! She was following the rule of always having a buddy!” The Victim should have been able to attend a party by herself and not expect to get raped. That should be a given. Instead, we hear how Brock Turner even tried to kiss her sister, but her sister was able to push him off. I believe inferring that she clearly did not have much alcohol.

    These are only two examples of how our discussions of the events of that night perpetuate rape culture. Brock Turner is a rapist because he raped someone. The Victim is a victim because she was raped. End of story.

    • “While I think it is good that the country is discussing this issue and finally giving rape victims a voice, I still cannot help but notice that people still slide into rape culture rhetoric.”

      Yes. I noticed that too. And it says that while we have come a ways in that we are protesting the sentence, We are still imbued in rape culture.

  20. This story has been on my mind constantly from the moment I first heard about it. As a college student, I was educated in bystander intervention, how to listen to victims, and the next steps to take if I were to be sexually abused, all from my freshman orientation (before I even took one step into a classroom). I am very thankful for this education and I am hopeful that our generation is the generation that tells our children not to rape, as opposed to “be careful, watch your drink!”. Brock Turner’s parents should be ashamed of themselves because they failed to raise an upstanding young man who can now benefit to society in a positive way. This is not an alcohol issue or “college drinking promiscuity” issue. This is an issue that deals with sexual assault, white male privilege, and race. I like how you mentioned that if this were a black male he would be in prison for the full sentence, no questions asked. Yes, going to prison would have a significant impact on Brock Turner’s life, but oh man, I can’t imagine what society is about to do to him when he gets out…

  21. I know I’m a little late to the party, but I want to thank you for writing this. Every time I see that little asshole’s face in the news my stomach hurts for the injustice. And my heart hurts for Jane.

    • It’s odd, I have the same reaction when I see his face so that it seemed strange to put it on my blog. I guess seeing his face could help Women be warned in the future.

      I’m hopeful about people getting educated as a result of this controversy.

  22. I just can’t stand it. It makes me so bloody irate. Same stupid arguments, same reprehensible lack of personal responsibility, same objectification of women. When will it end?

  23. One quick side thought I had in regards to what you mentioned on power … I notice a lot of people around me have a hard time finding and listening to their own rhythm. They don’t trust themselves and thus look outwardly for guidance. I believe this is the main reason why religion is so damn powerful and has withstood the test of time. But furthermore, you can also see how people would tend to flock towards someone who seems like they know what they are doing — someone who seems confident and powerful (hence.. Trump…). It must be a hallmark of humanity if it has been around for so long, but anything can be changed. It would be a good exercise to consider how we can teach kids in school to find their natural rhythm and be confident in themselves as individuals.

    That said .. on to the much bigger and more important topic .. this horrendous incident. Personally, I haven’t felt the need to voice my opinions on this topic .. and for a good reason : EVERYONE around me has been so reassuringly vocal about the utterly disgusting thing that occurred. It’s pretty much universally agreed his father is a white trash scumbag and it’s clear to see why his son turned out the way he did. I’ve heard that the judge who handled Brock’s case also went to Stanford and thus felt a camaraderie for him … just complete utter misuse of power. I’m not sure how I feel about the media discussing the incident from her perspective … if it is against her will it would lead to her feeling even less powerless to the situation … That being said the last thing we need is any even remote hint of remorse towards this criminal. I don’t care what school you go to or how much money you make, nobody should be exempt from the law. If only that were the case …

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this. I do think it’s a good thing that people are speaking out on it. It’s something that can educate and create change. And Jane Doe said that she felt she didn’t have a voice. And I haven’t heard her complain about people reading her words. So I am hopeful that she will finally have her voice be heard.

  24. jessica alvarado

    I think this article brings up some great points especially about how people empathize with powerful criminals. I feel that a lot of people like myself are furious about what happened and because of that it can be easy to fail to see the bigger picture of this upsetting event. The criminal justice system is flawed because people of the same kind like Brock Turner and the Judge share similar qualities which gave Turner the advantage over the victim. Until reading this post, I failed to realize that the Judge wrongfully failed the victim all because he was looking out for someone her was fonder of. Someone like him, a powerful male with money, similar education, and the idea that he has a better opportunity at being successful in life than the victim.

    It’s a shame that Turner was let off the hook meanwhile the victim has to deal with her situation for the rest of her life. Most of all, I feel this gives other judges and people with power to continue to break the law and rob people of justice and a sense of ease. Also, this puts fear in other women and families, which to me is sexist and simply beyond wrong.

  25. I guess the shooter, now they found out. Had a boyfriend and want to that club. He became radicalized apparently late. But there’s so many layers to this. I remember you brining up homophobia and how sometimes how our culture or cultures view masculinity and how men who can be secretly gay, be the biggest homophobia. Perhaps because of fear and insecurity. It just is so sad and I saw recaps of it and faces they shown of the victims and it makes you tear up. The second largest casualty of mass shooting except 9/11.

    • Ah, I’m feeling inspired to write a post. Don’t think I’ll have time to get it out by Wednesday. Probably Friday. (During summer and any other time I have free time I write extra posts for when I’m too busy — Think tomorrow’s a continuation of the series I wrote on Frats.)

    • The question I would ask his where is the outrage when so many rape cases end up with a slap on the wrist or nothing.

      I suspect this case has gained so much outrage because there were witnesses and he still ends up with a slap on the wrist — and most likely because he is privileged (white, an athlete, at a top school).

      • I want to make three points:

        1) Rape is way too high in this country. Frankly, I really do not understand it myself.

        2) Rape is a terrible crime. I grew up with two sisters. I can recall when my youngest sister, then around 19, came home and told my father and oldest brother about this guy who tried to rape her. My Dad and brother got their guns and baseball bats (this was in rural Georgia)..found the guy. Suffice it to say she had no more problems from the guy. My point is I saw first hand the emotional trauma she was suffering. Here the guy was not successful. But, she came home looking like she had been in a huge fight with ripped and torn clothing…crying, shaking….what if she had no one to turn to like her Dad and big brother? Most women do not. That is what is sad and horrible.

        3) The judge in this case, as in the Baltimore case, should be punished. This is EXACTLY why Mr. Trump is doing well in this election. Americans a fed up with there being one set of rules for one group of people and another set for the masses. This is all about class. What this judge is saying is even if he had killed this woman, this guy is too good to go to prison.

        My point was not to make light of the Stanford situation. But, as a Black man I am so accustom to seeing this in matters of race it does not faze me. Just numb to this sort of thing. Sad to say it but it is true. This just happens to involve class and gender.

        In the case of the ex Baltimore Raven cheerleader, it also points to how rape of a male is viewed as a joke. People jokingly saying this kid should be happy he was getting blow jobs at 15….Apparently the judge felt the same.

      • I think the problem is that too many people still think that people enjoy rape, whether she “tricked” him into rape by what she was wearing, or feeling at liberty to walk around at night… And men always like sex, regardless, right?

        These people can’t seem to summon the empathy to make the distinction between sex and rape.

  26. While I feel that it is important to understand the ulterior motives one’s abuser may have, I have to say that there is literally no excuse, no cause for forgiveness, and no good reason to sympathize with a person who has committed rape. Even a rape which is supposedly nonviolent has the potential to utterly destroy a person’s life by crushing their self-image and reputation. Even a woman who enters a place one would consider “dangerous” like a frat should not be blamed for what happens to her, as rape and battering is a result of an individual decision. It isn’t “inevitable” or “fate”; It is the conscious act of another person to do harm to another.

    • Yes, supposedly nonviolent. Because when she realize what someone has done to her it is clearly an act of horror and terror. The same emotions that violence creates.

  27. I know you obviously know as most of the country does. So sad, RiP to all the victims in Orlando today or technically yesterday. But here we go again.This could have been a domestic terrorist, because unfortunately gays can be targets to any group or religious affiliation and be a target for a hate crime. But this was from a lone wolf guy having allgiance to ISIS. I don’t know if you plan on doing a piece for this. I know you’ve done so before.

    But this one takes me mind to a couple places. The lack of taking steps to stop someone who has shown dangerous views, kind of like Elliot Rodger showed red flags, but nothing done until too late. Then you add in patriarchy and the creation of ISIS like views, the desire to control and oppose women or represent feminiity or opposing ways. Gays are seen as dirt in such fanatical, archair cultures and groups. Then my sympathy goes to, talk about oppression with women, but what gays have gone through and when things seem to get better, a push back. This was a mass murder, but mass hate crime, because the guy specified a known gay club. He could have went after any group of people but specified gay people or gay club.

    • Good points. I’m wondering what you think about the NRA pressuring Republicans to vote against gun laws that would make it more difficult to sell arms to terrorists. I mean the Second Amendment does he use the words “Well regulated.”

      • I think a lot of people republican or not, regardless of NRA’s push, don’t want guns further restricted. Some might come from a selfish stand point. I’m not a gun fan, so this says a lot from me, when I’m otherwise neutral about guns. But I’ve been in quite the debate on a forum I go on with politics and everyone is so wrapped up with guns. Complete neglect of how the fbi missed this, and apparently the guy’s wife knew about his scouting for attacks and never told authorities. I know he was supposedly abusive. Then it makes me think of Elliot Rodger and his manifesto and conspiring and evidence of wanting to murder, But yet he wasn’t put away in a jail then or a mental hospital. It wasn’t until her actually killed students and i’m thinking, if they acted on red flags when they were there. He’d be put away and we’d not have dead students. The aurora movie theatre shooter had therapy because of his mental derangment, nothing done until too late.

        So many missed signs. So I think of, I mean I don’t want peoples freedoms gone, but when things are obvious, there should be system revision where dangers and evidence of danger to society put away. It makes me think of domestic violence and a man that beats his wife over and over. He gets arrested, maybe for a day. He then texts his wife that he will kill her or threatens her, this is evidence of wanting to murder. Or stuff like that, but often with this there’s just a restraining order on the man, a piece of paper. He shows up at his house or wherever his wife is and kills her. Oh yeah now he’s arrested for however long, but it doesn’t bring her back to life.

        The problem is our culture, masculinity of feeling entitled or powerless and against the world and having to take it out on others or even this insecurity showing itself within as this man was secretly gay and just couldn’t bare seeing his reflection from other gay men apparently. And have to take his own self hatred for being gay on gay people. The fact is that, fine restrict Automatics or whatever. It would be nice if that worked, but it won’t make a difference. France is one of the strictest for guns, I think guns are banned, yet that didn’t stop the paris shooters from having guns and shooting people. Terrorists and gangs, you think they get them legally? They can get them so easily. My friend works in law enforcement and says how easy it is for criminals or people to get guns illegally.

        Some of the shooters have used legal guns, but if they were banned, they would easy enough go to illegal guns from the black market. But look at the shooter here, Mateen. He used legal guns, but that’s because he was a security guard for a top security company. But think about that and it shows how no matter how strict background checks could be, that they could be slipped through the cracks. This guy was not checked once, but got through two background checks, and it;s because he had no prior history. That’s the problem though. A lot of mass shooters don’t have prior history. So it’s not going to show and they’ll pass a background check no matter what. It’s because often these guys are “pressure cookers”. They never done anything,but they are disturbed and boiling internally until something does happen. And I don’t know if a pscyhe test would work, because they would probably lie. But if you write a post, I’d avoid the gun debate, because you know it’s a heated conversation and it would stir the pot and have people on here have heated debates which you don’t want, I’d think. I think probably culture, terrorism, homophobia and discrimination against gays or being secretly gay and that homophobia and how our culture or similar ones brew this are good layers and topics, but not a gun debate.

      • Just seems like some people complain that Obama isn’t doing enough on terrorism, And many of those same people are okay with people on terrorist watch lists buying guns. Why do we need to protect their rights to terrorize and kill? It’s really about the NRA wanting to make as much money as possible by not limiting gun sales at all. The NRA wins by getting money. The rest of us lose by increasing our chances of aiding terrorists (and batterers and the mentally ill) who use guns to harm people. A lot of people fight hard for the rights of some privilege groups like the NRA to make as much money as possible even as the rest of us lose — including the people who are fighting to have no limits on gun sales.

  28. Throughout my high school years, it was very clear that it is never the victim’s fault. I attended an all girls’ Catholic high school, where sexism was looked down upon.
    When I first heard of this, I could not imagine the reasoning and what had been going through the judges mind when only 3 months of time behind bars seems like a fair enough punishment. Being a college student myself, I have been given a fair warning of the big college world full of alcohol, drugs, boys, and “promiscuous girls”. The first day of orientation at Cal Poly, it was very clear that under no circumstance is rape, sexual violence, or assault of any sorts will be allowed. One of the things that I have been so fortunate to attend a school that cares, is they have a club all about consensual sex, and they often go around to class, groups, clubs, and Greek life explaining the importance of give consent and what it means. Before attending any classes through Cal Poly, it is mandatory to take a sexual and alcohol related course online to show that all the students know the rules and consequences that come with these types of decisions. I have just finished up my first year at Cal Poly, and I still cannot believe how many people still believe that this is the girl’s fault.

  29. I thought you’d like this. I came across this and this man’s speech for the removal of Judge Persky. Go figure, from a republican congressman too. Need more politicians and republicans being for women than against women.

  30. One of the scariest things I learned about this recent furor over the sentencing of Brock Turner… Is that the very fact that he was found guilty is rare ~ I’ve read that 97% of all rapists face no punishment at all (The Daily Beast). Incredible, and has me imagining the words of the victim in this case needing to speak in the loudest voice ever as her words contains the terror of all the broken lives of so many behind her.

    • Yes. And that is part of the reason of why this case is so frustrating. There were at least two, And maybe three witnesses. And still not much punishment. Sad and scary.

  31. Rape crimes get serious in europe too.
    Attackers in groups attack unprotected victims.


      • That’s the cologne Germany attacks, I think I told you about that and you did a blog post about that earlier this year or late last year about the female mayor blaming women. These were from refugees too and perhaps the culture there too. But reason why we need to be careful about not being selective with who we allow in, especially if people whose cultures and views are archaic of women’s rights and modesty.

      • John Claude just asked me about this. I guess that’s what he was talking about. Some countries are trying to educate the immigrants to behave in ways that respect women. I’m glad they’re doing so!

      • There are cases where women were part of organizations who helped out immigrants and were attacked by some of them but the organization forced the victims to not report the crime because “it would give a bad name”

      • Not sure. I’ve heard the reverse where some of the people who had signed up to help ended up being rapists. I can’t remember now whether the organization Tried to cover that up.

  32. What’s scary about this is that that kid will most definitely go out and rape again. I read somewhere else that he would be in jail for six months. That is still too light of a sentence and was intentional because of the “severe impact” it would have had on an aspiring Olympian. You should give leeway to good student drivers, not rapists. I was doing a little research and it seems that a lot of first world countries and then third world countries rank in the top few highly rape reporting countries. To name a few: Sweden, Australia, South Africa, India, and the US. I find really interesting that among the top highly reported countries the US are included. There was a comment in the article in which somebody highlighted, that the statistics show that women aren’t safe anywhere and that just made me think that I am either jaded by growing up in one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S or I’m completely oblivious. Maybe a little bit of both. I think reading up on those statistics made me realize that I should be a little more cautious of my well being since a majority of the reported rapes seem to be acquaintance rape.

  33. Please wake up guys! A rape is a RAPE, whatever the circumstances…party or dress or alcohol or even cultural compulsions. No punishment can ever be enough for rapists even if they carry a placard on their shoulder 24/7 declaring their status.

    Why do people manipulate laws to serve their own motives? Aren’t laws for everybody? Don’t try to tell me that an accomplished student can rape on the campus and go scot-free? Did you say “20 minutes of action?” Well, a murderer may require just 2 minutes of action! And remember a rape is a bigger crime than murder. But men can never understand that.
    Public outrage has highlighted the issue… Lets hope the right people hear that and at least law is followed!

  34. The public opinion is that Brock Turner is a piece of garbage rapist who not only raped an unconscious woman, but managed to put her through more stress by taking her to court and trying to defend himself using excuses completely unrelated to the fact that he raped someone. I think everyone should read the victim’s letter, it should be mandatory in school. It really makes me upset to hear of people defending him as “oh he’s just a boy that was drunk and didn’t know better” or “think about his bright future that could have been, look at these swimming times!” This is not an isolated incident, rape and rape culture is taught and people emphasizing with the rapist is part of the problem. Brock Turner might not get a long sentence in jail but Google and social media will forever follow him, just as being violated follows Jane Doe. I have been following this case, and in some comments on Facebook a person wished that he would get raped in prison, which is disgusting as nobody should joke about rape of any form. That being said, if the idea of prison rape is so scary to some men, it seems similar to how many women are scared of even going outside alone because of rape, which maybe will help people understand the fear. I wish more rapists had their names smeared all over, or at least I hope people continue to treat rapists as they deserve, with the blame put in the right place.

  35. There is no other crime where we try to justify it by denigrating the victim. It’s ridiculous. And this is absolutely The Wrong Thing to say, but the rapist’s father is exactly the kind of guy who would raise a rapist and lo and behold, he did. He taught his son that that there are no consequences, and now, even in the face of this horrendous thing, he’s still making excuses. Disgusting.

    • Strange that the judge thought that Brock was not an ongoing danger to society given how he was raised, And the fact that most rapists are repeat rapists.

      • How brock turner was raised, shows exactly why and how brock is a danger to society, because of his father’s views. That’s exactly the wrong way to raise a boy and reason why he is dangerous. The judge most likely has a bias because of his privileged upbringing and what the privileged will do to help each other out.

      • Yes, I’m sure that’s right.

  36. These are very common cases we see and hear of in the news rapes and how easily t is for the offender to have so many liberations after all they did to the victim, judges look at the past of these people and if its clean they simply excuse there actions calling them accidents or misunderstandings, and when this doesn’t work they blame the victims for how they dress and act around them, in these times every women decides when to dress a bit more classy but that doesn’t mean men don’t control themselves they do and the most reasonable way is to ignore women when they seem under the influence of drinks or drugs instead of acting and backing up on consequences by putting out nonsense excuses, offenders will try every way out of what they did now its up to us to to let them get away after hurting badly some one as a person.

    • Sometimes it seems like women have to have lived perfect lives in order to get a conviction while the guys can rape and that’s still not enough to convict. Especially a problem in a situation like this where there were eyewitnesses, as two men actually saw him raping and rescued the young woman. And she still doesn’t get justice?

  37. happyfreeconfusedlonelyatthesametime

    I’ve taken criminology in uni and we’ve talked about stuff like that a lot. I think there are a lot of questions in your post that have a lot of different answers. It’s about what your law system defines as the goal of the penalty. Plus which penalties are allowed by law and how much can a judge decide in that case. Which considerations can he take into account. I think this is a very complicated issue

  38. I think the fact that Brock Turner was prior to his assault of the unconscious Jane, a respected member or his community, says a lot about the society we live in today. Even though Brock claimed that his actions weren’t like him and he blamed the alcohol he had been drinking for his violation of another human being, I can’t imagine him being a generally stand up, respectful of women type of guy prior to the assault. The fact that we respect and build up people based on their accomplishments in one area of life causes problems, like the encouragement of entitlement which most likely played out in Brock Turner’s case. He had his ego inflated from being a good swimmer, and a white relatively socioeconomically well off male, by our society and particularly by college culture, so much so that he felt entitled to an unconscious woman’s body. This pedestal he was put on for his swimming accomplishments went so far as to alleviate him from any just sentencing. Though the media’s outrage is a step in the right direction, it seems rather convenient that the outrage at his behavior came after his sentencing and not before, I believe had there been pressure from the media for a maximum sentence prior to sentencing, we would be having a very different discussion now.

  39. One thing I don’t understand about american college culture is why ladies even consider going to “fraternity parties”. With so many rape cases and open misogyny, why don’t just ignore those guys at all?

    • I suspect these things are the culprits: internalization and conforming to cultural expectations, wanting to be popular/have an active social life (self-esteem issues).

      When people are used to certain cultural practices they don’t tend to question them (internalization) and so they conform to cultural expectations. And going to fraternity parties is part of American cultural expectation for college. Plus college is a time of figuring out how cool you are, But you are worth, So students want to go to these parties to prove their coolness and popularity.

      And fraternities and sororities were originally set up to give male fraternities more power. Men invite and determine who can come to their parties.

      Plus, one of the reasons why women sometimes also blame victims is that if it’s “her fault” she feels safer. So some women may feel safer than they actually are.

      But I agree that it would be best for women to boycott these parties.

      • The system is where the frat houses conduct the parties which seems sexist. What would help I think is the sororities conducting the parties and hosting them. And the women there decide the men they went there and if any frat guys and non frat college students can come or maybe just them and not guys part of a fraternity. Allowing the choice for the girls instead of the guy’s with the parties.

      • If sororities hosted at least half of the parties I’m sure things would be much better. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  40. It really begs the question, what ill deeds has Judge Persky done, that he has later rationalized as the result of being under the influence of alcohol? When you consider how much research has been done in Psychological Warfare Operations, with efforts to brainwash people into doing things they don’t want to do; there are very drugs that aid in overcoming one inhibitions. Most street drugs & alcohol DO NOT fall into this category. The date rape drugs Rohypnol, also called roofies, GHB, aka liquid ecstasy, Ketamine & perhaps Scopolamine are classed, as they are because the do induce compliance & nullify inhibitions.

    If Brock Turner had confessed to using Special K (Ketamine), Judge Persky ruling might have some validity but not to the extent of such benevolent sentencing. It seems that Judge Persky chose to ignore a very basic understanding of how law is suppose to work and that is to ameliorate feelings of retribution. Instead Brock Turner has for all intents and purposes been sent to Summer Camp for wayward boys, except he is an adult, who should be incarcerated for the most prevalent aggravated crime in the US.

    • You make a good point. I wonder whether the judge had been part of the fraternity where ideas that support rape culture are prevalent, normalized and even encouraged. At the very least, he lives in a culture that frequently blames victims.

  41. Empathising with the rapist is quite obviously a societal aberration, a behavioural kink that needs to be steamrolled out through as much punitive measures as are meted out for the crime of rape itself. Enlightened opinion is bound to make it happen.

    • Yes, we will have to do a lot of work with the enlightenment part.

      We find rape victims being blamed for attacks on them throughout the world. And even though it makes no sense, we are so used to getting our ideas from the more powerful members of society – which in the patriarchy are privileged males – that this sort of thing actually makes sense to a lot of people, male and female alike.

  42. Reblogged this on Rcooley123's Blog and commented:
    This behavior is way too common and beyond inexcusable. Blaming the victim is so easy for many these days. It must be called out for what it is and stopped in its tracks.

    • Thank you!

      And it is so easy to blame more powerless victims when more powerful interests have so much influence over our ideas, and are actually in position to help privileged criminals, who they relate to.

  43. It’s so upsetting. I’m proud of the students for fighting this though. Often in stuff like this students and the university turn the other way and things continue on and so does unjust rulings for rapes going forward. This crap happens because judges and the justice system isn’t held accountable as universities and such have a way in sweeping things under the rug or victim blame or something to where people of a town or university look at the perpertrator as the victim instead of the actual victim. Students and the community this time, aren’t having this shit and they will fight tooth and nail for justice and I’m proud of the community for that. The law professor which I already posted about and students. Here’s a link here. Petitions have been passed around I believe to have that judge removed.


    And then two good men, swedish students who tackled that piece of shit Turner kid when they came across him sexually assaulting that girl. The guys chased after Turned and tackled him and called police and had him down until they came. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/06/07/the-swedish-stanford-students-who-rescued-an-unconscious-sexual-assault-victim-speak-out/

    There is no question this was rape, espcically from the swedish men who were witnesses who took down Turner’s account. Yet the judge has his head too far up his ass to see that. But the victim wrote a letter to the piece of shit Turned and father which I is up and you might’ve seen and is in that link, but also to the two guys who she calls her heroes.
    In such a dark time, it’s a little relief knowing there were good guys there to amidst a monster. This is what she wrote about the good young men helping her.

    “Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet,” she wrote in her letter to Turner. “I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.””

    • Thanks for this and for all of your thoughts on the topic. Is so important for others to step in. I’m so glad that these young men — what they did to help her -– help to give Jane Doe some sense of security back 🙂

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