A Nightmare Better Known As The Brock Turner Verdict

June 7, 2016

Incase you haven’t heard anything about the Brock Turner case over the past couple days; I will fill you in on the disgusting and deeply disturbing series of events. Brock Turner is a former Stanford University student, and star swimmer. More than a year ago, two witnesses found him assaulting an intoxicated, unconscious (I repeat, unconscious) female outside of a frat party on campus. Ever since last Thursday, when the judge sentenced Brock to an extremely lenient 6-month sentence and three-year probation period (when he was set to face 14 years), there has been an outrage across all social media channels and news outlets for good reason.

CkXiItsVAAE8heO

In a bone chilling 12-page victim impact statement, the victim (who has withheld her name for privacy reasons), provides a detailed description of what this experience and trial has done to her life. What I took away from her statement is that every waking moment of her life since the night of the attack, has been absolute torturous hell (which is me putting it nicely). It was extremely tough to get through all 12 pages, as I felt both my heart aching in agony, and every inch of my body slowly fill with rage.

What I find to be so confusing is that the concept of this whole thing is really quite simple. So I’m sort of stumped as to why many people (including Brock, his father, his best friend, and Judge Aaron Persky) are having difficulty grasping this idea. If you murder someone, you are a murderer. If you steal something, you are a thief. If you rape someone, you are a rapist. Period. Rape is a criminal offence, and Brock doesn’t deserve to get away with a slap on the wrist because of his athletic ‘potential’. He should serve the time he rightfully deserves for committing such a despicable act. For me, it is extremely hard to swallow the fact that people are strongly defending someone who is so indefensible. As the victim impact statement pointed out:

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty-six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt.

Aside from what happened on the night of the assault, there are a number of other deeply disturbing instances, which have resulted from this case. One, neither Stanford University nor Brock Turner issued an apology to the victim. Two, Brock Turner’s father, Dan Turner, wrote the most cringe-worthy and jaw dropping letter, which epitomizes and encourages rape culture. The letter details how the verdicts have shattered and broken his son. Hmm. His letter paints a picture of his son being the victim, with no consideration whatsoever of how the real victim’s life has been affected. He also mentions how Brock will never be the same…maybe your parenting should have included that lesson about how it is  explicitly unacceptable to rape an unconscious woman? Most disturbing of all, is this excerpt from the letter: “That [the verdict] is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life”. 20 minutes of action? It is absolutely heinous and downright insulting to classify something as serious as rape as “20 minutes of action”.

CkWtHTFVAAADVmo                                        Photo Courtesy of @ThisDrunkPhoto

What is extremely infuriating to myself, and the many others expressing outrage over this case, is the fact that if you are a star athlete at a prestigious U.S. university then everyone is quick to hop to your defence and work extremely hard to cover up the case, and get you off the hook. Do we not see that something is wrong here? Brock Turner’s extremely lenient punishment was based on the fact that he has “potential” as an athletic swimmer, rather than the crime he was found guilty of committing.

We saw the exact same thing happen with another high-profile university athlete rape case featuring Jameis Winston. Winston was a star football player and Heisman Trophy winner at Florida State University, when he was accused of violently raping a female in the name of Erica Kinsman. Despite DNA evidence, and Erica filing separate reports with police and the university, the investigation was suspended for no reason. Erica’s case, unfortunately, is the sad reality of what actually goes on when victims try and report sexual assault to their educational institutions. There is a documentary titled The Hunting Ground, which reveals the lengths universities go to, to cover up and lie about rape cases in order to uphold the image of their school, and not deter prospective students.

These two cases, along with hundreds of thousands of others tell an extremely important story. These are not one-off events that happen once in a blue moon. There is an obvious pattern of campus rape, and the severity of this problem cannot continue to be overlooked. We cannot continue to let rape become a cultural norm – this is morally intolerable. Although sexualized violence against women is one of the world’s most common human rights offences, this isn’t an issue about just women. This is a basic human rights issue for males, females and transgenders alike. For all of the people who quickly hopped to the defence of Brock Turner, I personally guarantee your sentiments and statements would tell a much different story if this had happened to your own sister, daughter, or wife. The scary thing is, Brock Turner actually has a sister, Caroline Turner, and she also released a statement in his defence, which speaks volumes to the parenting job Dan Turner and his wife have done. It couldn’t be more crystal clear that the verdict of this case is utterly unacceptable for numerous reasons. The verdict explicitly violates the integrity the U.S. Judicial System is required to uphold, demonstrating privilege and extreme bias in favour of someone who has been proven 100% guilty.

image

The grim results of this trial as well as the Jian Ghomeshi trial add more fuel to the rape culture fire. These verdicts aid in discouraging those who want to speak out, for fear of experiencing similar repercussions. This is extremely problematic because this can lead to many victims being more reluctant to report rape. This is not okay, and silencing survivors doesn’t make this issue go away.

Growing up as a female, both my school and my parents taught me how to avoid being raped, and what I should do when a male is attacking me or trying to sexually assault me. What’s ironic is that males are never explicitly taught or educated on why it is wrong to rape women, and this may be the root of the problem. It is something that goes unspoken. Parents talk to their sons about the danger of having unprotected sex, but not about the importance of consent. This is something that needs to change NOW. Because of what I have been taught about rape growing up, I have lived my teenage years and early adulthood somewhat paranoid about ever being in that type of situation, and always thinking about how to avoid it. If young teenage boys are taught that rape is a crime and are educated on the repercussions they would face if they were to rape a girl, perhaps they too would have carried around the same paranoia I did. Perhaps this paranoia would deter them from engaging in rape, or better yet, significantly reduce the number of rapes that occur.

I could honestly go on writing about this forever, and how white privilege plays a huge role in this, and that I find it no coincidence Judge Aaron Persky used to be a Stanford athlete himself. But instead, I would like to end this post on a more positive note. As I mentioned above, this post isn’t just about females. I am here to stand up for all the survivors of sexual assault: transgender, male and female. I want everyone to know that I am on your side, and I stand united in this battle to seek justice and put an end to rape culture and the judicial system’s encouragement of it. Know that I am actively fighting for you, and I will continue to do so everyday. No matter what you are told, or made to believe by your perpetrator(s) or an institution, you and your story ARE important. NEVER let anyone try to silence you, tell you your story is petty, or try and trick you into thinking that what happened is your fault – because it most certainly isn’t. Although you may feel weak at times, you are in fact not weak at all. You are strong, and courageous, because you are a survivor. You are no different than cancer survivors, or those who have survived war…you are just a survivor of a different type of battle, and for that I commend and honour you. Filed under my Sabatage Approved page, you will find some resources I have gathered regarding sexual assault, and reporting sexual assault. I intend to grow the list of links, and will continue to work on developing these resources. If you agree with the unfair verdict, there is a petition against Judge Aaron Persky you can find here, which has been drawing wide support. Please share this post, and feel free to leave a comment regarding other resources you may be aware of!

imageedit_129_8021112926

 

Advertisements

Women of Influence: My First Evening Series Event!

image

When I first got the idea for beginning my blog, I devoted a good portion of time to researching websites and online resources created specifically for women. As this site becomes more and more developed, I plan to create and dedicate an entire page to exactly that. Whether it’s resources dedicated to personal finance, education, or body positivity, or more serious issues like sexual assault or domestic violence, my ultimate goal is to gather as many informative online resources for young females and women to have at their fingertips and become familiar with. So while I was conducting this research, and gathering a list of websites I found to be of interest, I stumbled upon Women of Influence.

What I found so intriguing by the site was the fact that it is essentially an all-encompassing package of everything needed to become a successful, well-rounded, businesswoman. WOI hosts inspiring and educational events, they offer development programs which can be tailored to your organizations needs, they write insightful articles on relevant and important issues, and their network boasts a large number of powerful professional women and celebrities alike. While scoping their website trying to learn more about their community and what they do, I came across the Women of Influence Evening Series event featuring keynote speaker Lesley-Anne Scorgie. I knew I HAD to go. The ticket price ($55.00) wasn’t too steep, especially when you consider the valuable financial advice you walk out the door with (and the free wine provided by Corby Spirits & Wine). But I was lucky enough to score a free ticket because my brother happened to know the keynote speaker personally, and she was kind enough to send me a ticket!

image.png

My brother is a personal finance expert, and knows absolutely everything and anything related to money, investments, and saving. He is a role model to me and I am constantly inspired by his self-discipline when it comes to saving. Myself on the other hand, I’m the complete opposite. I really, really love to shop, and I have always been an impulse buyer. But over the past year, I’ve taken my head out of the clouds and I have come to the realization that personal finance is something I really need to pay more, and serious, attention to. Although I could sit down with my brother and ask for his financial advice anytime, I thought hearing it from someone I didn’t know would be more powerful, and really help to drive home the point. And boy was I right!

image.png

It was so inspiring listening to Lesley-Ann speak about her story, and discuss not only the highs, but also the lows of her journey, which led her to where she is today. What really resonated with me, was her discussion on the topic of dealing with rejection, and how important it is to keep persevering through the bad. She mentioned being rejected thirty nine times when attempting to publish her book, and how the rejection fueled her appetite to not give up. Although I have always advocated and believed in that same idea to keep going no matter what, sometimes I find it very hard not to get down and discouraged when things don’t go as smooth as I had hoped, and it was a nice reminder to stay positive. Another aspect of her discussion I found interesting was her emphasis on not dwelling on the past. Typically, this is always easier said than done. But Scorgie really emphasized the fact that we shouldn’t ruminate on our past financial mistakes and mis-balanced cheque books. Instead, she suggests we should focus on moving forward and minimizing the chance of repeating our financial mistakes of the past, by creating financial plans for the future (hint: our new best friend should become the word ‘budget’).

Lesley-Anne also let us in on the financial secrets that all self-made millionaire women have in common, and her speech was followed by a panel discussion, which then opened up to questions from the crowd. Following the questions, there was a ‘connecting activity’, which encouraged everyone in the room to go network and meet some new people. While everyone was mingling, Lesley-Anne headed to the back of the room where a large line formed to purchase copies of her books (including her newest book Modern Couples Money Guide) and have them signed by her.

All in all, it was such a wonderful experience attending last nights Women of Influence Evening Series event, and I had the privilege of meeting some really great women. Not only did the keynote speaker do an amazing job, but aside from that, WOI and all the sponsors did a great job as well! The venue – The Grand Banking Hall of One King West Hotel & Residence – was absolutely stunning, and I definitely spent a good amount of time admiring the beautiful chandeliers and detailed architectural work. Corby Spirits & Wine kept the wine flowing all evening, Shoppers Drug Mart was there doing makeup touch ups and tutorials, and Smith School of Business (part of Queen’s University) had a table set up to discuss some of the programs they offer to help advance your career. There was a VIP giveaway basket featuring goodies from all the sponsors totaling just under $3000, and another prize for the winner of the ‘Social Media Contest’ (wherin the winner was selected from all the quotes and pictures posted on social media using the hashtag #WOIEvening). There were also swag bags on the way out, which had a Women of Influence Magazine as well as a Glow Magazine, and an investment pamphlet and cute little booklet from Scotia Bank, with sticky notes and notepad paper inside.

image

image

Right before leaving, I stuck around for a bit so I could get in a quick word with Lesley-Ann, and kindly thank her for my ticket and see if she could sign my book I brought.

image

It’s quite evident from hearing her speak and seeing her interact with all the event attendees that she is such a humble and down to earth woman, considering all she has accomplished. I absolutely cannot wait for the next Women of Influence Evening Series event (although from the website it doesn’t seem like it will be anytime soon), and I am so excited to see who the keynote speakers in the future will be. I highly recommend taking some time to visit the Women of Influence website, even if you’re not from Canada, because the great articles they have on their site will still be valuable and a great read for any female. For more about Lesley-Ann, you can head on over to her personal website or http://www.mevest.ca. I’m just beginning her book Well-Heeled, so stay tuned for an upcoming post on that!

imageedit_129_8021112926