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Monday, June 6, 2016

Rape Culture in the United States of America (***WARNING: Sensitive subject being discussed. Beware if you are easily triggered***)


While I normally write strictly on books and seek to support my fellow indie authors with this blog, some recent events in this country have enraged me to the point of needing to write something and speak my mind.  Please forgive me if I seem to bounce around.  There is so much to cover.  I could probably write a novel on this alone, but I will try to keep just the basics here.  

So far, everyone from the Huffington Post to the Daily News has reported on the Brock Turner case.  In case you happen to have been hiding under a rock for the past week or so, let me fill you in.  

On January 18, 2015, Brock Turner raped a woman that I will not name here.  Sure, her name has been mentioned in just about every other report and blog, but I need not add to the flood of unwanted notoriety she has received because of her case.  She is not out for fame, and never (in my opinion) has been.  She is, however, out for true justice.  

What has happened to our justice system?  Somewhere in the journey for fairness, human rights, civil rights, and the like, we have gone from 'justice' to 'just us'.  Our court system tells us that they seek to ensure that every crime is punished appropriately.  If this is true, then why is it nearly always the victim who is put on trial by the court of public opinion?  Why is the ruling of the court continuously swayed by pretty words and that very same public opinion?  Why do we not look at the facts in these cases?  Why have we allowed our country to move backward in the prosecution and punishment that rapists (and other violent offenders) receive?  
Brock Turner should have spent a minimum of approximately fourteen years in prison according to his state's mandates.  His defense attorneys argued for six years since it was his first offense.  The judge only sentenced him to six months in a county jail and three years probation.  He is also required by the judge to complete a sex offender management program and register as a sex offender for life.  
Aside from the obvious miscarriage of justice in this case, it is even more outrageous that his father argues that the sentence he was given was still too harsh!!!  Yes, you read it correctly.  I kid you not, dear avid readers.  
If only the victim in this case could get such a light sentence.  Hers is forever.  Forever will she endure the struggle of fighting against agoraphobia, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.  Over the next five to ten years, she will consider several times on taking her own life to end the pain.  Statistically, she will do one of three things:  commit suicide, become alcohol/drug dependent, or become a shut in.  She committed no crime but receives a life sentence all because some adult male who knew better and was competent enough to stand trial decided he just had to have her right then and there---as if she were some inanimate object such as a pair of sneakers.  But, it was not some pair of sneakers he swiped from a department store.  No, it was so much worse.  What he stole can never be given back.  Those moments of her life, twenty minutes as Brock's father argues, will never end.  They will live on in her nightmares.  

Many rape victims go through a very similar scenario.  Assume the victim mentioned has reported right away.   
First, you are confused and disoriented.  If you happened to consume alcohol prior to the rape (which I did not in my own experience), imagine that confusion and disorientation is heightened.  You begin to question yourself.  What did I do to cause him to do this to me?  What could I have done to stop it before it happened?   How could I not see this coming?  Why didn't I wake up in time?  Why didn't I fight?  Why didn't I run?  Why did I freeze?  
Still, this line of questioning is nothing compared to what you will endure from the prosecution, the police, the doctors, and the defense attorney...let alone what you must endure from the public if it is ever discovered or made public knowledge.  You're asked questions such as what kind of clothes did you normally wear?  Were you a virgin?  If you are sexually active, how many partners in the last six months did you have?  Why so many?  Why only that many?  Did you lead him on?  Yes, those are legitimate questions asked by not only the people defending your attacker but also those meant to protect YOU.  
If you are one of the few who report it the moment it happens, you are lucky enough to get immediate physical evidence such as pictures of contusions, lacerations, or any other external injury you might have suffered.  Oh, did I not mention this part yet?  Yes, after you report it and while you battle your own torrent of emotions on the inside, you must endure the medical examination.  You have a team of doctors and nurses, some of them male if there are no females on staff or on call, who will poke and prod you to within the last millimeters of your sanity.  They collect particulates from your hair, search for skin samples from beneath your fingernails, scrub you down for any possible semen residue, perform a few oral swabs, vaginal swabs, and anal swabs...as if you haven't been violated enough.

After the examination, you are allowed to shower.  Me?  I waited three years.  I only happened to have a pair of panties from the last time he assaulted me two days prior to me reporting it.  Thank goodness my mom hadn't come to my room to collect the laundry at the time.  Even though I suffered for three years, I still had to endure parts of the examination.  
Once you are released from the hospital and put in touch with either a social worker or a rape counselor, you go home.  Nothing is the same.  It's your same bed, your same four walls, but something has drastically changed.  You don't realize it in that instant, but that something is you.  
You are no longer who you were just prior to the rape.  You have to face that you are no longer you ,but a different you.  You've lost the will to do what you used to do before.  Your prior routine belongs to someone else.  You are nothing more than a shell of a person, because your rapist/attacker has just sucked out your very soul.  He took everything.  Brock Turner's rape victim knows this, but Brock Turner's dad complains how his son has lost his luster.  Well Mr. Turner, imagine how your son's victim feels.  Your son got off unjustly light.  So what if his life is going to be hard.  So what if Brock's life will no longer be a life of freedom and joy.  You fail to realize that your son Brock was the ONLY one with a choice during that twenty or so minutes he violated that woman.  You, sir, are also what's wrong with this world, today's entitled youth, and the epitome of rape culture in America.  You, sir, should suffer a fate similar to what your son SHOULD be suffering for daring to suggest that your son is a victim in any way, shape, or form.  
A month after your rape, you are still slightly numb but it's wearing off.  The numbness is fading and you are beginning to feel the pain over and over again.  Nightmares become more and more vivid.  They begin to consume your every waking thought, despite your intense efforts to resume a normal life like the police, doctors, and lawyers told you to do.  They tell you that in time, the pain goes away.  
It never goes away.  I can attest to that.  It takes years to learn to enjoy the touch of a consensual relationship with any partner.  It takes conscious effort not to throw up every time a man gets too close.  It takes strength you never thought you'd need to keep from just turning your car ever so slightly to the left into oncoming traffic to just be over and done with it.  You constantly argue with yourself over whether or not this life is worth living, whether you're worthy, or whether anyone will ever love you now that you've been violated.  
Months of therapy and a handful of pills later, you still struggle with the decision to even venture into the local Wal-Mart at 3:00 pm because you fear there may be just too many people there.  Many of your acquaintances have abandoned you.  Your social group, if that's what you call it now, is so small that you don't really think you have one.  Sure, you learn who your REAL friends are--the ones who say 'no matter what' and mean it--but going to the movies with the girls is a chore.  You wouldn't even dare to go out and have drinks with anyone because you'd be so afraid of it happening again.  Besides, you can't mix alcohol with the medications the doctor put you on to keep you from ending your own life.  
Years down the road, you finally consider dating.    Do you tell your partner what you've been through?  What happens if you are sleeping near each other or if you dare to even have sex again, you're asleep, and you wake up screaming from a nightmare?  What happens if he goes to console you and in your half-asleep stupor, you run from him or freak out more if he even touches you?  How do you deal with that?  
Not to mention, you will be so paranoid that you run any potential date through the sex offender registry or do a background check on him or her at some point.

I assure you, if Brock Turner ever dates a woman or finds one stupid enough to date him, he won't wake up screaming from being violated by his 'slap-on-the-hand' sentence imposed on him by this lenient and unworthy judge.  He will be satisfied just fine by this woman, and if she's been living under a rock this entire time (or doesn't check the sex offender registry when she dates a new guy), she'll never know what he did.    What's worse is that his dad will be there to defend his son and tell this girl what a fine and upstanding man he is and how he was misunderstood.  

"If you wouldn't wear such revealing/tight clothing, he would have understood that you weren't just playing hard-to-get."
"If you weren't so drunk, you'd have been able to stop him."
"She wanted it."

These are among the top things that rape victims are told after reporting a rape or telling someone about being attacked.  It's as if  'NO' really doesn't mean 'NO' unless you're sober, covered, or have a friend with you so that your friend can translate the concept that you aren't interested in sex.  Some people believe that the 'anti-rape culture movement' is some hype created by uber feminist movement that tends to demand society to accept that there is zero difference between a man and a woman (aside from obvious sex organs).  While any HUMAN is capable of the work of another HUMAN, that isn't the point.  Why does simply being uninterested in sex with a particular person have to be part of some hyped up movement or have to have some underlying reason other than "No, I'm not interested."?
Demanding the right to be safe from being raped or becoming a victim has NOTHING to do with politics, societal movements, or anything like that.  It is 100% a safety issue.  I, as an American citizen, demand the right to be safe.  I demand the right to say 'no'.  
If you look at it aside from it's criminal perspective, rape is a violation of a woman's Constitutional rights.  In the Bill of Rights, it guarantees the right to "...life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness...".  While those three inalienable rights do not mean that citizens can do everything they want just because it makes them happy, it does mean that we have the right to pursue a decent life along with the right to life itself and liberty.  However, when a person rapes another, the rapist has denied his victim the right to the pursuit of happiness, the right to life, and the right to liberty.  How, you ask?  I'll explain.  
First of all, the right to life is something everyone identifies with.  We all simply have the right to continue breathing because we were born.  If a rape victim commits suicide, I personally think it should be involuntary manslaughter at the moment or at least facilitation.  The rape victim likely would have never committed suicide if they hadn't been raped.  Am I right?  
Secondly, liberty--

Liberty is most easily described as 'freedom'.  Slavery became illegal in the United States when the Thirteenth Amendment was finally passed by the House in January of 1865.   A rapist forces his victim into a life of slavery to anxiety, PTSD, and other debilitating mental disorders that would not have happened had he simply grasped the concept of 'no'.  
Finally, Pursuit of Happiness should be an obvious one.  How can one seek happiness if one is locked in a cage of one's own misery, a cage forced upon them by someone seeking either power or pure sexual gratification.  
Mandatory minimum sentencing has done NOTHING to deter these violent offenders from committing crimes.  Why not?  Why are so many rapes unreported in this country?  If we're so advanced, you would think that we would automatically resolve the issue of violent offenses or at least find a greater deterrent than sitting in jail for a short while.  
Many murderers get life in prison or death sentencing.  All they need is a little DNA or something greatly concrete such as a confession to be sentenced to death or life without parole.  Yes, some murderers get off easy, but not near as many as rapists.  Rape is the most under-punished crime in the United States as it stands.
MY attacker received nothing more than probation and three months at a boot camp type facility for juveniles.  He committed a major assault and battery, putting one of his friends in the hospital, three months after getting out.  He was arrested for drugs after that.  Never did he receive any severe consequences for what he did from the legal system.  \
So, back to the case of Brock Turner.  His dad is the epitome of what is wrong with this generation.  These are the kids who won participation trophies, demand 'safe spaces' because words hurt, and feel a sense of entitlement to having the world cater to them.  They took the saying of 'the world is your oyster' to mean that the world owes you every imaginable thing possible as long as you are happy.  Your feelings matter only.  This is the generation that will be left in charge one day if we do nothing to end rape culture and the sense of entitlement.  Men are not entitled to a woman's body no matter how much he is 'turned on'.  Men are not entitled to a woman's body no matter how little clothing she is wearing.  No one goes out and rapes a guy when he is wearing nothing but a pair of shorts while mowing the yard.  I mean, think about it.  A guy can go outside on a hot summer's day with his nipples showing.  However, a woman goes outside in a bikini and she's an instant slut?  Really?  I don't think so.

Though personally, I believe a woman should dress modestly, that's my opinion and it stands only because I don't think that it is appropriate to show one's body off like that.  I feel the same way with men.  Guys, put on a shirt while you mow that lawn or whatever you're doing.  I don't want to see your nipples, either.  Yet, this isn't a modesty debate.  The point of what I'm saying is that no one has a right to touch you if you don't want them to, no matter the reasoning behind it (aside from medical intervention such as Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and the like).  Rape culture exists because no one speaks up about it.  It exists because of fear.  We, as a society, fear that which we do not understand.  We do not understand why a rapist becomes a rapist.  We do not know why some people, despite their background, decide to take from others what is not there.

It needs to end and it needs to end now.  This we know.  The question is, what are YOU going to do about it?  I know what I'm going to do.  I'm going to speak up.  I'm going to sign and start petitions for tougher sentencing for rapists.  I'm going to demand they spend life in prison or the death penalty.  I will fight for this as much as I can.  Rapists are no better than murderers.  In my eyes, they're worse to a certain extent.  The rapist's victim gets to die twice--once upon being raped and once upon natural, final death.

Have you ever seen the eyes of a rape victim?  Let me show you what the eyes of someone who has had their soul ripped from them looks like:

Notice the empty look?

Here's the eyes of someone who is happy and is free to live their life as they desire:

See the difference???