Empathizing with Rapists Instead of Victims
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.
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!
Posted on June 10, 2016, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged Brock Turner, feminism, psychology, rape, sexism. Bookmark the permalink. 110 Comments.