Brock Turner Is Released From Jail And The Media Still Won’t Call Him A Rapist

It was bad enough Brock Turner was only sentenced to jail for six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. It gets worse, though. After just three months, Turner was released from jail on good behavior, and media outlets are still insisting on calling him the “Stanford swimmer.” After all of the discussion and outrage surrounding Turner’s laughable sentence for his heinous crime, it seems that some still don’t want to call him what he really is — a convicted sexual offender.

The outrage surrounding his sentencing wasn’t simply because it was lenient. It was about the fact that he got a lenient sentence because he was a privileged white kid whose lawyer consistently touted Turner’s athleticism and academic achievements part of his defense. Even if he had raped a victim in a pool at swim practice, it would never be OK to call Turner anything but what he is now. During the trial, just his name should have been used. There is no need to qualify his identity as anything else. Most other people who are charged with crimes don’t get that advantage.

That news organizations are still including his privilege in headlines is mind blowing. It’s like no one has been fucking listening at all to why this case was so important and how big of a role media and representation go into perpetuating rape culture. Here are just a few major news outlets still calling him a “Stanford swimmer.”

Turner was protected by the media when he was called a good swimmer or connected to Stanford University. Even the victim, in her moving letter asking the judge to put away her assailant for as long as the law would allow, noted that she was shocked at how the media was identifying him. After reading about her assault in a newspaper, she was taken aback by how safe the world was for her attacker. She wrote:

“And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.”

That every headline or lede includes “former Stanford swimmer” and not anything about his three sexual assault felonies is almost more disappointing than his measly three-month jail stint. The justice system royally screwed up, and the only hope was that as a society, we had learned something about rape culture and privilege. Judging by the way the media insists on identifying him, many people haven’t learned a damn thing.