Opinion piece by Melanie Walker
The case of the Stanford victim has been a trending topic in the news for the past week.
For anyone unfamiliar, one year ago a woman from Stanford was raped while unconscious by Brock Turner, a 20-year old Olympic-bound swimmer, behind a dumpster. Two bicyclers passed by noticing them; Turner got up to run away, and while one tackled him, the other called the police. For Turner’s crime, among two other additional felonies, he faced a maximum of 14 years in prison. However, last Thursday, after pleading from Turner’s family and very powerful attorneys, Turner was convicted to only serve 6 months of county jail by Judge Aaron Persky.
I’m not writing about this to speak on the vile and detestable crime Turner committed or the unsettling fact that he has not owned up to or apologize for raping this woman. I’m not writing about how Turner decided to blame his decision to rape this woman on “college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.” I’m not writing about how offensive the quote was from his father, protecting his son, claiming that his son should not be punished so harshly for “20 minutes of action,” making Turner’s dad the most pathetic excuse for a parent I’ve ever seen.
I’m not going to spend time talking about how this injustice served by the court system, that we are supposed to trust, has enabled rape culture and has made a statement to the world that the bad guys have won, and that as long as you have money, the law does not apply to you. I’m not writing about how I agree that Judge Aaron Persky should be stripped of his title, because the truth is, I do not have enough words to describe the awfulness of this case and the disgusting feeling I got in my heart when I read about it a week ago.
But I do have words for this--
Though this is a terrible step backwards for everything men and women our age have worked so completely hard on to create a more mutually-respective society, I’ve seen a lot of good that has come from this case.
For the first time in a very long time, I am actually seeing people uniting against this injustice, rather than being divided. I’ve seen countless articles of men and women protesting together to end rape culture and to protect not only women’s rights but human rights. I’ve seen an outpouring of love and support to this victim from men, women, LGBT’s, the old, and the young—commending her for her courage to speak out and to act.
Though there’s a lot of evil in this case and a lot of back-door politics we don’t quite understand, there’s also a lot of beauty that I see rising from the ashes of this injustice.
Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist, but I truly believe that this is the start of people uniting together to fight what is simply right versus wrong. And where does that start? It starts with the fire that comes from injustice. Injustices like this cause people to find their voice, speak out, and defend their basic human rights.
I would never wish what happened to this woman on anyone, and my heart truly goes out to her and her family. But as a society that is hearing about this on a third-party standing, we have two options. We can use a story like this to either sit back and let someone who is stronger and more powerful take care of the way things work, or we can act and be that strong force in the world that ignites change.
Like the victim in her letter, we can be strong and stand with her to unite people around the globe to fight.
We need to write letters, sign petitions, protest, share articles, inform others through conversation, and shed awareness of this case, because when injustice is served in a country our forefathers worked so hard to defend, it no longer becomes a “feminist issue” or an issue of rape—it becomes a human issue.
Check out the letter addressed to Brock Turner from his victim here.