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In response to current events surrounding rape, I thought it would be important to discuss rape culture in our society and how this relates to the topic of sexual violence that we discussed in this unit. A major story that has been in the news lately is that of the rape by Stanford student Brock Turner of an unconscious young woman behind a dumpster, after which he was sentenced to a mere 6 months in jail. In a Huffington Post article Turner’s father’s letter defending his son is spotlighted. In the letter, Dan Turner repeatedly makes excuses for his son’s behavior and tries to make the incident seem like less of an issue than it really was. One phrase from the letter states, “These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family” and that it “is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” The lack of empathy Dan Turner is showing for the victim of this crime and overwhelming attempt to sympathize for his son is exactly what is wrong with our current culture of sexual violence. Way too often people make excuses for criminals in these cases, due to the privilege given to certain individuals in our society. In this case, Brock Turner’s status as a young, white, star athlete with a supposed “promising future” was apparently enough to exempt him from possibly being responsible for these despicable actions. Instead of considering the victim at all, Brock’s father perfectly exemplifies the ignorance and neglect for human decency that is severely plaguing our world, particularly in cases of sexual violence. Sexual violence has become so normal that people have started to not be able to recognize it, even in the most obvious of cases.

Furthermore, in his letter, Dan Turner blames alcohol consumption on the “sexual promiscuity” that occurred that night, and that his son’s actions were not violent. Victim blaming is a huge issue with the way our world handles rape. Calling what happened that night “sexual promiscuity” takes the blame away from the rapist and places it on the victim and Brock’s apparent inability to control his actions while drinking. Alcohol is not the problem, rapists are. Also, it is important to realize that rape is a violent act. Violating someone else’s body without their consent is violence and that is exactly what happened here.

It is clear that we have to change the way people think about rape and sexual violence if we ever want to make progress toward reducing both of these things. Brock Turner and his father, Dan Turner show us that it is particularly important to teach our children about sexual violence and provide accurate information, or the rape culture that currently exists will only continue.

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