Stanford Rapist’s Father Thinks His Son Should Get Away With “20 Minutes of Action”
If anyone was still in doubt that actual rapists receive tons of support and forgiveness and justification for their actions, this letter from convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner’s father appealing for his son’s innocence should convince them. Turner was convicted of raping a woman in March and was sentenced to six months in county jail Thursday on the basis that a real prison sentence “would have a severe impact on him” in the judge’s own words. The letter, which Turner’s father read at his son’s sentencing, is a festering pile of patriarchal entitlement, but the most awful line argues that Turner shouldn’t have to go to prison for “20 minutes of action.”
If that’s his argument, how many minutes of rape justify a prison sentence? Rape is rape whether it lasts minutes, hours, or even the smallest fraction of a second. And “action,” really? “Action” implies consent, or in other, more commonly used words, “she wanted it.” Since Turner was found guilty of rape, the sex was obviously not consensual.
The letter from Turner’s father also recounts, in a there-isn’t-a-small-enough-violin-in-the-world kind of way, sad scenes of Turner rejecting his former favorite foods like pretzels and ribeye steak because his conviction shattered him. If you’re trying to make us feel bad for a rapist, “he doesn’t like steak anymore :(” is not the way to go.
To get the world backing Turner, his father claims he’s “totally committed to educating other college age students on the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.” But not, presumably, on the dangers posed by rapists. Turner and his father’s focus on drinking and “promiscuity” echo the victim-blaming mentality that seeks guilt in women’s habits rather than on men’s choices to rape (i.e. it wasn’t rape if she was drunk/had an active sex life/wore a short skirt/didn’t fight hard enough).
What’s especially sickening is how blind Turner’s father seems to the effects of his son’s “action.”
The letter tells us that Turner’s “every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression.” Gosh, that sounds familiar. Oh yeah — that’s how a lot of sexual assault survivors say they feel following the act, including Turner’s victim. Here are just some of the ways she described the aftermath of the assault in a letter she read to the court:
“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. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most.”
“I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.”
However, Turner’s father thinks his son’s minimal sentence is unfair. “The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and interact with people and organizations,” his letter says. “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.”
You know why he has to register as a sexual offender? It’s because he committed a sexual offense. Everyone agreed on that. Even the shit judge who only gave him six months (Judge Aaron Persky; a petition to get him off the bench is doing the rounds) agreed that a sexual offense occurred. Are you mad because the legal system now recognizes what Turner is?
The way his victim lives, visits, works, and interacts with people and organizations is “forever altered,” too — and because of something Turner did to her, not because of any choices she made. I doubt the life she “dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve” ever involved surviving a sexual assault. But to Turner’s father, that doesn’t matter. He heard that letter about surviving sexual assault, and still had zero concern for his son’s victim. What kind of monster hears that and feels nothing?
It’s one thing for a father to express love for his son in the face of horrible wrongdoing. I mean, parents of mass murderers cry when their children are sentenced to life in prison. It’s another, twisted thing for a father to support his son’s decision to sexually assault a woman. Who cares if she’s so hurt and terrified that she’s physically incapable of sleeping alone and will bear psychological scars for years and years because of what he chose to inflict upon her? Turner doesn’t want to eat steak anymore, so clearly he’s the victim here.
Messages like this teach boys and men that it’s OK to rape, as long as you get away with it — misogynist poison disguised as paternal concern. In a culture that forgives rape (when it chooses to acknowledge it at all), that’s what we’re supposed to look up to.