My daughter learned very early that her mama watches the
news in the same way she watches sports. It's interactive and there's a lot
of yelling. Since I'm a Cubs fan and a feminist, crying is also usually involved.
This week, I sat at my dining room table and read the most
heart-wrenching and powerful letter
ever. The statement from the Stanford rape survivor is something that should be
read by as many people as possible. I hesitate to say all because I know people
who have lived that letter. Who have prosecuted rapists and seen what is
described in that letter. Yes, some of us have a pass from this homework.
For me, as a mom to an almost-teenage girl, I needed to read
that letter. As a feminist activist, I had to read that letter. As a human
being, I cried. And I cry as I write this recalling her words.
“Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never
would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to
So much of the parenting-a-daughter handbook is filled with
things to tell her to not do. Do not go out at night on your own. Do not ride
the train by yourself. Do not get so drunk that you pass out. Do not leave your
drink unattended. Do not. Do not. Do not.
What we need to do is rip those pages
out of the daughter handbook and put them in the son handbook.
Do not go out at night on your own and assault someone.
Do not ride the train and corner the woman riding solo.
Do not target the woman who has had too much to drink and
Do not put anything in a woman’s drink.
Do not. Do not. Do not.
I am angry. I am angry because a woman made a mistake of
drinking too much one night and was raped. The consequence for drinking too
much should had been a terrible hangover. Instead Brock Turner saw her,
vulnerable, and raped her. His father plead for leniency at his sentencing and
called his mistake “20 minutes of action.”
Judge Adam Persky agreed that Brock Turner had been victimized and punished. He lost his
prestigious swimming scholarship and his opportunity to swim at the Olympics.
Brock Turner's father cited his son's loss of appetite for snacks and steaks. Surely that is his penance for his mistake, correct?
Except that Brock Turner raped another human being.
Rape is a crime that is so intimate that it is almost
unspeakable. It is the one crime where society immediately questions the victim. What
was she wearing? Why was she drinking so much? Didn’t she like to have a lot of
Where men of lesser means and darker skin tone have been
convicted and sent to prison for years, Brock Turner was sent to a local jail
and told to think about what he had done for a few months. The privilege that
Brock Turner swims is in as natural as any pool he has dived into.
As I continue to raise my daughter to
go out into the world on her own, I will have to acknowledge that even when you're raped—and sometimes even after a
jury says he is guilty as hell—he will still not be held fully accountable.
Judge Persky was also an athlete at Stanford.
Perhaps he saw a bit of himself in that rascally young man standing in front of
him. Perhaps he envisioned Brock Turner shaking off that one night of violence
to become an upstanding citizen despite having to register as a sex offender
for the rest of his life. Only Judge Persky knows why he valued Brock Turner
over the woman he raped.
What I do know is that as I continue to raise my daughter to
go out into the world on her own, I will have to acknowledge that even when you
are raped and two eyewitnesses catch him and pin him down until the police arrive...
Even when your rapist says to the police that he never really talked to you.
Even when you endure hours of evidence collection for your rape kit. Even after
having to retell the tale of your rape over and over again in court. Even after a
jury says he is guilty as hell, he will still not be held fully accountable.
I have already had the talk with my daughter that we stand behind
our girlfriends. We do not let people call her a slut. This of course is my
prep work for when I have to tell her that a girl in her class may one day
stand up to the world and defend a convicted rapist because he was nice to her. I
will teach her that not only men are guilty of misogyny.
Much of this was already in my annotated daughter handbook.
What Brock Turner, his father and Judge Persky do is make me tell you about it.