Brock Turner's Male Privilege Is What Got Him Out of Jail Early -- Not 'Good Behavior'

Sign from Stanford protest

A justice system is put in place to protect the people. But, truthfully, I don't feel safe in saying that our system protects everyone. Sure, every system is flawed, but at this point I'd have to say that our system is pretty much unjust to minorities (read: everyone who's not a white man). Say what you want about that statement, but Stanford swimmer Brock Turner's release from prison after only serving half of his already lenient six-month sentence is all the proof necessary. This comes after the 21-year-old was convicted on "three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person."

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After the controversial sentencing and the prosecutors' request for at least six years in prison, Turner will be released Friday, September 2, reportedly due to "good behavior." 

More from CafeMom: No More Brock Turners: If You Have a Son, You Need to Step Up

In light of this news, we must acknowledge one fact, and that is this:

Most times our judicial system is rigged against all minorities and women (basically anyone who is not a privileged white male). Our system has shown us this time and time again, especially in the way that it constantly helps to perpetuate rape culture. 

Why white male privilege and not just male privilege? Well, because while Stanford swimmer Turner only had to sit a measly three months in jail, this black high school athlete was sentenced to five years in prison for a rape that he didn't commit. And there are so many more horrifying examples of inequality in the system.

As Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who is leading the effort to recall Judge Aaron Perksy (who handed down the sentence in this case), pointed out to the Washington Post -- this bias and privilege held among males (especially among "young white males at elite universities") is "a long standing pattern."

Brock Turner blamed "party culture" for his actions -- and, instead of forcing Turner to take ownership, the irresponsible judge basically decided to hell with what this young woman must have gone through and will continue to go through -- it's of high importance that we protect this criminal's promising future.

From the judge to both Turner and his a**hole of a father, the entire case was pumped with unchecked, white male ego. 

What message does that send to the women and men who we're constantly trying to educate on the ins and outs of sexual assault and rape culture? Does it create more of a conversation or less of one? How does this dictate the mindset of future generations to come? There are a lot of scary questions, but each of them is deserving of some serious thought. 

Even after the judge's decision to step away from criminal cases and only try civil suits, I find absolutely no comfort. Despite Brock's conviction and requirement of drug rehabilitation, I find no comfort.

More from CafeMom: Dad of Stanford Rapist Defends His Son in Disgusting Display of Male Privilege

It is, however, the victim's harrowing letter that brings comfort. If you're truly reading it, you'll know that it is, in fact, only the beginning of a discussion. It brings me a little bit of hope that even under these circumstances, it will undoubtedly change the way we see rape victims, the act of rape, and rape culture all at once. 

Her message perfectly captures the absurdity of rape culture, as it horrifically describes the unjust system that vilified her out of fear that -- according to Judge Aaron Persky -- "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him." That him being the rapist. She wrote: 

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don't line up, she's out of her mind, she's practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he's like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he's having a really hard time right now.

This brave and honest message will encourage other women to continue to speak out, until they feel they've truly been heard. As the victim told BuzzFeed, "Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up .... I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder." And I couldn't agree more.

We can't cower away out of fear that rape culture will win out again, but instead we must come forward and continue to make our voices heard again and again and again, until women are seen with just as much esteem and worth as privileged white men. Until women get the justice that white men seem to be entitled to when being questioned about sexual assault. 

More from CafeMom: How One Sexual Assault Survivor Learned to Live & Love After 21 Years of Abuse

And it seems like this message is at least starting to resonate. Just today Chessy Proutt, the victim in this New Hampshire sexual assault case, spoke out for the first time (she was 15 and therefore remained anonymous at the time) to declare that she refuses to be ashamed. "I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been," she said on the Today show. "It's been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people, other girls and boys, don't need to be ashamed, either." Moreover, in response to the Brock Turner case, the California State Assembly just passed a bill that would force anyone convicted of sexual assault to go to prison.

So we may not have won the battle with this one, but we're set to win the war -- if (and only if) we continue fighting for ourselves and our equality through any and every platform that gives us even the slightest voice. But, I believe that we will make ourselves heard.

 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, you can find help and support at RAINN.org, the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1 800 656 HOPE (4673), or Safe Horizon Crime Victims Hotline 1 866 689 HELP (4357).


Image via GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images

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