Rape Culture: Privilege, Accountability, and Victim Blaming

Rape Culture: Privilege, Accountability, and Victim Blaming


By Jessica Iman     After the release of Stanford University student rapist, Brock Turner,last month (September), there has been a lot of co...

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By Jessica Iman


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After the release of Stanford University student rapist, Brock Turner,last month (September), there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the January 2015 incident. 21-year-old Turner was convicted this year (2016) in March on three felony counts, assault with intent to rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person, and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person. Turner also faced a sentencing of 14 years behind such acts, but California prosecutors pushed for a six-year sentence. Surprisingly, or not so much, the Stanford swimmer was sentenced a mere 6 months in jail and a three-year probation. To date, he’s only served three of those six months and has been released on “good behavior”.


“That (six years) is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…”


These are the words Brock Turner’s father, Dan, wrote in a letter to the court in defense of his son’s “action” (*rolls eyes heavily af*). Now if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, how in the hell is 20 minutes of rape justified just because it was 20 minutes as opposed to an hour or longer? What kind of reasoning is this? What’s even more disturbing is the reason for his ridiculously lenient sentencing.  Let me show you how privilege works. Santa Clara, California Judge, Aaron Persky, says a lengthier sentence would have severe impact on Turner. No shit judge, is that not the whole idea of the “rehabilitation” process of prison!

It has also been brought to attention that Persky is the same judge who sentenced a Raul Ramirez 3 years in prison earlier this year for the same crime, sexual assault. Ramirez was coerced to take plea for the harsher count (sexual penetration by foreign object by force, fear, or threats) after pleading guilty to a similar count of Turner’s, showing remorse for his actions, and apologizing for the actions of his crime and accepted responsibility. Of course this changes nothing about the crime, but Ramirez exhibited behaviors Turner showed no signs of displaying, and he still got the harsher sentence. Did I mention Ramirez was also an immigrant from El Salvador? I guess Ramirez is more deserving of “severe prison impact”.

Since these comparative cases have been heavily publicized, the demand for Judge Persky’s removal from an upcoming sexual assault trial has been in effect. He is being deemed incompetent to judge sexual assault trials based on his sentencing, and reasoning in Turner’s trial.

This quote intel’s there is an even bigger problem in American society when it comes to rape. We can analyze this through the victim’s letter. She vividly details the myriad of questions by officers as they reported the incident. The one that infuriates me the most, “What were you wearing?”. As if a short dress screams “Rape me, please!”. Questions of how much alcohol the victim had consumed were asked. And in the defendant, Brock Turner, responses, sexual promiscuity was a factor of why the assault happened. Reverse victimizing even happened in this case. Turner was painted as an athlete who’s career he had worked so hard for was at stake.



Statements and questions like this, point all the blame on the attacked and not the attacker. In sports, don’t we see this happening all the time? Maybe a football player has been accused of rape and because he’s sorry for what she thinks has happened, one too many drinks and he still has to play for his All- American team, we should forgive him. Our society’s ability to look the other way when considering an athletes career is at stake, for his own damn actions, is even more perplexing.

All of this victim blaming is in light of the controversy of #teacherbae, Patrice Brown. About a week ago, Brown made news for her professional attire. The teacher’s aid was under a lot fire after being publicized by social media for her snug attire and curvaceous body. Brown has since received a parade of hate. She has had her competency of teaching questioned and has even been accused of distracting her 4th grade male students from learning. All due to some curves and despite being recognized for teacher of the month. Would we be confident in saying a thin white woman’s body conned figure would be under the same scrutiny? Probably not.

Like blaming the rape that happened a year ago on promiscuity, blaming #teacherbae’s body for being naturally curvy is absurd.

It is because of this “rape culture” that the harmed in the Stanford University crime has to be referred to as “victim” and not by her given name due to victim blaming. It is because of the same culture that women have to be careful of what to wear so that they do not display too much of their God given curves and incite such barbarous behavior. It is because of rape culture that the victim is often left to wonder if she/he was the cause of their body being violated.  And it is for the same culture that we tend to have repeat behaviors/acts of rape by the same persons when these actions go unchecked. These are just a few things I am sick of hearing when rape allegations are made and confirmed. More importantly, when will those who hold white privilege, or any kind of privilege, be held completely accountable for their actions? When will white offenders ever be held to the same extent of repercussions as their black/brown counterparts? When will America tell the victim, “I’m here for you”, instead of looking to fault their actions first?