Today, Brock Turner will be released from prison, 3 months early, because of “good behavior”. As I called it earlier this year, he served 1.8% of what could have been a 14 year maximum sentence. The rage seething inside me is palpable. Three months of punishment for dragging someone behind a dumpster and sexually assaulting her while she was unconscious. Three months for trying to take advantage of her again by concocting an elaborate, ultimately flimsy lie to defend himself when he found out she didn’t remember what happened. Three months that would have been zero months, had it not been for two real men who saw what was happening and chased him. His defense was the most slut-shamy, “why is this happening to me?”, bullshit defense, and it worked. The jury found him guilty, but the judge didn’t want him to hurt too much, so he was sentenced to 6 months, and served half of that, and the victim watched that sentence come down.
The white privilege enjoyed by Turner stays in your mouth like shitty mayonnaise, Especially when a black teenager just received 20 years in jail for driving with a suspended license, and the judge who resided over Turner’s case had no problem throwing the book at black sexual assault defendants. Just for today, though, maybe we don’t rattle our sabres regarding the way the justice system and wealthy people combine to turn white privilege into an Aryan Mothra, wreaking havoc on the lives of brown people trapped in the system for exactly the same types of crimes. Let’s not, because if those brown people in the system did similar things that Turner did, then they DESERVE to be trapped in the system. That Turner got away with it with a slap on the wrist is irrelevant to their guilt and punishment. This is not the hill on which to die.
For this case, and any other sexual assault case, let’s focus on how the victim was mistreated. She had to watch Turner get that flimsy sentence. She had to listen to all of the character defenses of Turner, illustrating how ingrained his sense of entitlement to whatever he wanted is. She may not be in danger of encountering him again, but that doesn’t ease the crippling awareness that the system won’t take any other assault seriously. Turner’s case is one in hundreds where punishment was light for the man in order to ensure that HE can get on with HIS life. It’s one in hundreds where the character of the woman was put into question. If she so much as kissed her grandpa on the cheek when she was 5, that would be the evidence they need to label her a slut who was asking for it. Cases like Brock Turner are the reason why assault is under-reported. Cases like his are why when a woman DOES go public with her accusation of abuse or worse, the general public finds nothing wrong with asking what SHE did to incur the abuse, what was her sexual history, why was she in that place if thought it was dangerous, instead of asking the assailant why he would take advantage of a situation instead of making it safer for her.
The system didn’t fail the victim in this case, or any other sexual assault case. The system worked exactly how it was designed, because it was designed by straight white men. Straight white men are reaping the benefits, and every once in a while, a Nate Parker may get through, because it’s primarily men who benefit. Aryan Mothra of white privilege is definitely a major factor in this case, and every case where black and brown people are given harsher sentences than white people, but the real victims in these cases are the men and women who never saw real justice for what happened to them.