With his early release today from jail on good behavior after spending three months in for convicted rape, Brock Turner is now free to wander the streets as another example of what being wealthy, white, and male means in the United States. Watching CNN this morning, I saw a commentator mention casually how this is not a completely "free-to-go" case, because Brock is now required to register as a Sex Offender wherever he lives. Good. That's the least that should happen for the rest of his life.

Across media sources, I see a growing unrest about the culture of rape in our western society, which I believe is good. The cases continue more and more, unfortunately, but it seems this is one of few ways we can get society to take action against those convicted of rape. The United States must take convictions of rape more seriously, with more serious punishments.

I believe this means abiding to the legal age of adulthood and accompanying punishment. If one is not a minor (under the age of eighteen), one should pay the price for being an adult.

This means "making a bad choice and realizing one has made a mistake" as they say, using the phrase like a warm blanket snuggling around Brock's precious young head, will no longer cut it. Sorry. We all know adulthood is hard but we should all pay for the horrible mistakes we make. Some of us need to be taught a little more tangibly for a longer period of time.

Why, you ask, my wonderful reader?

Because I (and I believe many others subtly or loudly feel the same, please correct me if I'm wrong) strongly feel those who perform the act of rape must physically endure the emotional and psychological pain of the victim they cause a life-time of damage towards. 

Bustle recently put out an article and video highlighting the emotional damage of rape victims that not only lead to emotional and relationship issues, but addiction issues and self-harm. 

One victim in the video even admits if it weren't for hiding her pain with substances, she would have killed herself. 

These stories, this knowledge, is what Brock Turner, the judicial system, and every white male who steps into higher education should know (and have burned into memory every time they hear the word "no" regarding a sexual advance in personal situations or ones described to them). 

So I urge, when you see Brock Turner, done with paying his dues to the law, at the super market, driving down some inconspicuous road, or buying the latest phone... Just ask him: "Do you understand how much pain victims of rape carry throughout their lives?"

Now, we don't all have to jump on the 'burn him!'  train, even if I personally struggle with the physical harm I would like to do to Brock Turner and the many others like him. 

I also believe the United States can take a simpler action to help quell the ideas and misunderstandings of rape culture that I touched base on just a moment ago: males who enter higher education. Many of the instances of rape happen in higher education settings. The 2015 report by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) indicates one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. Almost as terrifying is the statistic is how more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. The under-reporting doesn't only happen on college campuses. In the same fact sheet,  the NSVRC states Rape is the most under-reported crime, where 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police at all... Why is this happening?

I recently attended an orientation for graduate students (at Naropa University, I'm not ashamed to say). While we all had a good laugh and rolled our eyes at the acting in the YouTube videos regarding safe sex and how to handle body language and signs of consent, a girl next to me made a terrifying comment: "This is the first time at an orientation where we had a talk about this."

Not only did we see examples of positive and negative consent, we were all given a sheet in our orientation packet with resources for victims of sexual misconduct, including the number for Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence  which supports services for survivors of domestic violence and the contact information for sexual assault nurse examiners. These resources are also available on the university's website. These resources are so incredibly important for those victims who don't know where to turn, all these victims who feel they can't report, or don't know how. No wonder the western perception of rape is so twisted. We can't even speak our voices regarding the situation, or find ways to help. This is a major step we as a society need to take.

So what I really request is the following: every institution of higher education make the two above-described learning situations a priority for every student on the campus. Every orientation. And even better, as a requirement for entering a fraternity or sorority. Maybe with our communities being aware of these resources and methods of action, we can help change the culture of rape, or at least help to begin speaking about the larger conversation that needs to happen in order to make these convictions stop.

 

Published by Kristiane Weeks-Rogers