The outrage over Brock Turner’s early release and light sentencing for rape may be starting to die down, but the bigger picture of what a case like this means to society is still very much alive.
The short version of Brock Turner’s crime is that Turner was caught in the act of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at a party. He was found guilty. The suggested sentence was six years behind bars, but Turner got six months and only served three because of “good behavior.”
Actress Patricia Arquette said that Brock Turner was not an anomaly – and she is right. This is a prime example of rape culture in our society, which is a main issue in feminism.
Rape culture is a culmination of beliefs/attitudes in our society that perpetuate rape and how we view it in society. In the Brock Turner case, a big focus for his defense was trying to blame the victim for the assault. Think about that – blaming a young woman for being sexually assaulted and violated. It sounds outlandish plainly stated, but that is exactly what happens all too often because of rape culture.
If a girl says she was raped or sexually violated in some way and someone asks questions like “were you being flirtatious” or “what were you wearing” or “how much did you have to drink,” those are examples of how society wants to push blame onto the victim. It is as if there has to be a reason for rape, other than a rapist of course.
Male privilege and objectification of women play into rape culture a lot as well. When this was first covered in mainstream media, there was more focus on the details of the assault as if to leverage out if it was or was not rape based on technicalities. Also, Turner was portrayed more as “Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who made a mistake” than as a rapist. Even his mugshot was omitted, and instead most news outlets publicized a smiling senior portrait as if to say “look at this nice young man.”
He was given a shortened sentenced, released early and now he is allegedly in talks to start a college speaking tour on the dangers of alcohol. The fact that he is able to use his crime as a platform for publicity and to place blame on other circumstances is a prime example of how his male privilege fuels this instance of rape culture. The media didn’t completely portray this as a rape case, it was also a human interest case of a college boy filled with potential who was caught up in a whirlwind of mistakes and that is a perfect example of rape culture right in front of your eyes.