There is nothing like a heart-breaking case of sexual assault to make me immediately want to hold my daughters close and never let them go. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a single case of violence against women that isn’t heartbreaking, but a detailed letter recently published by the young woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner just over a year and a half ago, has left me in absolute ruins. She describes so vividly the pain and anguish she has had to bear, it really brings to light the torture that rape victims endure in their everyday battle to overcome.
And I’ve learned something so important from this story: while I may teach my girls to run from the weird guy, to stay away from the suspicious men, the ‘pervert-looking’ guys, and ones that make the hairs on their neck stand up in fear… the golden boy, star-of-the-swim-team-boy might just be the most dangerous of them all.
I’m struggling with how to teach them to listen to their instincts and to trust their gut when Brock Turner probably never set off anyone’s danger radar. I’m torn between protecting them and instilling a deep mistrust for just about every man on this planet.
And while Brock Turner will forever be lumped with the special kind of scum that is reversed for rapists, I think his father has a lot to answer for.
Dear Mr Dan Turner,
I recently read a letter you had written. You certainly have a flair for words. Your letter taught me about entitlement and privilege. It also gave me a little English lesson when I learned the synonym for ‘sexual assault’ is “action”.
So forgive me if my letter doesn’t measure up to your linguistic talents, and that I may not be very eloquent when I say this: You are a first class a-hole.
YOU are everything that is wrong with society today. Your son may have been the twisted little douchebag behind that heinous crime, but you and your kind fuel the Brock Turners of this world.
You are the reason young men continue to rape women. You are the reason why ‘privileged’ offenders get negligible sentences. You and your kind are the accountable for the fact that many women will never report crimes committed against them.
I don’t have a son Mr Turner, but rest assured, if I did, he would know that sexual assault and rape are wrong. He would know that a lack of consent (or consciousness – in this case), means ‘NO’.
He’d know that women deserve to be valued and treated with respect. He’d know how to communicate and listen. He’d know that his achievements doesn’t make him superior than anyone else. He’d know that he wasn’t entitled to everything he wants, especially if what he wanted was another human being. He’d know that his privilege wouldn’t set him above the law.
You see Mr Turner, these are values that a loving parent instils in their child. I do not doubt for second that you love your child. You standing by his side through this ugly ordeal only cements the fact that you love him deeply. And you should.
But you have failed as a father. You have failed to help him see a difference between ‘wanting’ and ‘having’. You have failed to teach him that while the world may be your oyster as a young Stanford undergrad, that doesn’t mean you can simply take something of great value with ease.
And you failed miserably this week when your letter to the Judge referred to his unlawful deed as “20 minutes of action”. Because which young man doesn’t like a bit of ‘action’, right?
That there Mr Turner, was your teachable moment. An opportunity to love your child, but condemn his actions. An opportunity to be the father he is obviously sorely lacking. And you botched it up pretty royally didn’t you?
We understand you didn’t want to see your boy rotting away in a prison cell for years of his life, but to excuse his behavior on the ‘culture of alcoholism and partying’ is pretty pathetic. I know many men who drink, even occasionally to the point of excess, who don’t end up raping women in their drunken stupor.
To justify his assault on the fact that this ‘culture’ exists in the swim team baffles me. How many other Stanford swim team members have been accused of sexual assault?
In my family, we were introduced to the concept of right and wrong from the earliest of age. If I got into a spat with anyone at school, you could be certain I was getting a spanking from my mom when I got home.
I bet your son has never had a spanking in his life. And while I don’t condone corporal punishment as valid teaching tool for children, my point is that I wasn’t coddled and made to feel like I was right at every turn.
You failed your son, and you failed that young defenseless woman when you set him loose on this world with that giant chip on his shoulder.
I hope you bear that burden for the rest of your life.