Is White Supremacy in Rape Culture present in North America?

by mathildatheprofessional on September 18, 2016 - 7:40pm

 

January 18, 2015, Brock Turner, former Stanford University swimmer raped an intoxicated and unconscious 22 years old women near a fraternity party. The police arrested Turner and brought him to the Santa Clara County jail for attempted rape; he was released soon after posting $150,000 the same day. Afterwards, 5 charges were indicted on him two for rape, two for felony sexual assault, and one for attempted rape. Generally, convictions in similar cases are sentenced to14 years in prison, but for Turner, Santa Clara County Superior Court sentenced him to six months of jail to be followed with a three years of probation. Turner was released after only 3 months of jail due to good behaviour.

Many ethical issues are presented in this case, like the atrocity rape of course but the one that we will be focusing on is white supremacy in our society. Many people seem to agree on the same statement: the role of privilege in sexual assault cases is very important. This example therefore sends a strong cultural message regarding sexual assault in our society. Like many rape survivors, Turner’s victim will have long term psychological consequences facing this negative experience. However, it seems that the media does not see Turner as a man who took someone’s personal freedom for his own satisfaction, but more like a victim who received a too severe sentence. Many articles headline, describe Turner as a Stanford University swimmer, showing his potential as an athlete but not the irreversible and terrible action that he committed. Most media platforms prefer to show the potential that the man has and how his life is ruined because of this ‘mistake’ that only lasted 20 minutes. As a cry of help, his father Dan Turner send a letter to the judge and asked him to shorten his son’s sentence, writing: “His life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” Nevertheless, it seems that many people agree with the father’s affirmation. In fact Judge Aaron Perksy sentenced Turner to six months in prison instead of 6 years because this sentence “would have a severe impact on him.”

But the question that we need to ask ourselves is: Would this case have been treated differently if Turner had been black or latino? Yes, his wealth and race made it easier for him. But is it morally acceptable to treat someone differently because of his skin colour? No. Every human being is equal and a specific race should not be treated in another way because they are more powerful. In these cases, a particular sentence should be inflicted on defendant, regardless of his/her life background. Indeed, if Turner had received a six years sentence, his life would probably be ruined. But Turner made a decision that night to ruin a women’s life for his own personal pleasure. Rape is wrong in any case regardless of the situation. In conclusion, is it safe to affirm that rape culture is being normalized in our society?

 

Work cited

 

Thomas Reuters. "Brock Turner Released after 3 Months in Jail for Stanford Sex Assault." Cbcnews. N.p., 2 Sept. 2016. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.

 

Zeba Blay. "Let’s Not Ignore The Importance Of Brock Turner’s Whiteness." The Huffington Post. N.p., 6 Sept. 2016. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.

Comments

This is a very interesting ethnical issues that we need to grant more attention to. I already heard about Turner's case and your summary really got me into the subject of this particular issue. I didn't have issue with your summary, I found it was well written. I liked that your last paragraph was only composed of questions, which leaded myself to question about this subject. In my opinion, it is completely unreal that he only was charged with 6 months in jail when he should have been sentenced in similar case for 14 years. This is definitively a huge issue that our society is facing, I find it completely immoral that the judge only sentenced him for 6 months not to ruin his carer. I mean, why does this have a effect? Seriously? There are fact that he actually committed to the crimes, so what if he have money, and that he is white? Unfortunately it definitely doesn't work like that, rather the person is rich, white, black, latino or famous, everyone one should serve the same penalty for their act!

I really enjoyed how you developed your topic. I hear everybody talking about how this is solely due to the fact that Turner is white. Honestly, it could very well be a big part of the reason that he was given such a small sentence however, I feel as though everybody was extremely quick to coin this as absolute blatant racism without having the data to support their claims. Turner was given a ridiculously short sentence for his crimes. That is not arguable, no matter if he is white or rich, it is not acceptable. That being said, there are unfortunately many cases of rape in america every year of which most do not get blown up as this one did. I could not tell you what is the average sentence for a case similar to this one. Who knows how many of people have gotten away with short sentences for rap, like this one. I feel as though so many people are so apt to coin this as a race issue due to the various race issues going on in the past year. However, none of us would even know if last year a similar rape occurred but with a black man for the simple fact that it was not so heavily publicized by the media. I think that the judge is horribly wrong for having given Turner such a short sentence but I believe that this also says something about peoples conceptions of rape in general. In this situation, the judge seemingly empathized more with a rapist than a woman who was sexually violated behind a DUMPSTER. I feel as though this alone says something undeniable about the views that some have towards rape. This judges verdict shows that some people don't see rape as such a big deal. I feel like this judge would say something like "well he is just a young guy, guys have sexual urges. She should bounce back from this in not time". At a time when rates of depression and suicide in rape victims are factually extremely elevated, I wonder how a judge could let a rapist go with, essentially, a slap on the wrist.

I'm glad you chose that topic, which I believe is very important to talk about. I think you depicted very well the way american society responded to this particular situation. I must say that I completely agree with you. The rapist cannot be seen as the victim in the situation, he cannot be excused by the public and the media because of what he was aspiring to, because his profile was "clean". And I also think that if his skin was not white, he would have been judged differently. Society still have many stereotypes against black and latino men. It is totally unfair for the victim and it shows that there is almost no consequences for rapists. There can't be no mercy for a rapist, no matter how rich or pale his skin is. Would society have shown mercy for a black or latino rapist? Would the judge have taken in consideration the impact of the sentence on the rapist's future?

This is a great post and you mention some really key elements! It is extremely interesting because it raises a lot of discussions about many different things as you mentioned like rape culture in our society, how privileged offenders get away with their crimes, also how things would've been different based on the colour of skin of the offender. Rape culture should not be normalized in our society and in many cases it seems to be. The fact that Brock Turner’s sentence was reduced to a mere 6 months and he only stayed for 3 months, creates an atmosphere that rape is “allowed” in our society if you're a privileged white male committing the act. Exactly a month ago Canadian Federal Court Judge Robin Camp asked a rape victim why she couldn't just keep her knees together. Absurd right? It just adds on to how people trivialize rape, blame the victim and consequently pity the perpetrators. When looking at it through a gendered lens, it is extremely serious because every women from the age of 18-25 has a 1 in 4 chance of being raped however 97% of rapists are not incarcerated, they are getting away with a crime that scars these victims for life. You also made a really good point mentioning how the media also misrepresents situations, because they also sexualize women and sometimes even make it seem as if women are asking for it, just teaching males that women do want it and it even brings rise to discussions about consent. This all tells us that indeed society is normalizing rape but something clearly needs to be done about it. You should check out this post, it has some important facts about rape that really make you think about how should be taken much more seriously. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/50-facts-rape_b_2019338.html)

This is a great post and you mention some really key elements! It is extremely interesting because it raises a lot of discussions about many different things as you mentioned like rape culture in our society, how privileged offenders get away with their crimes, also how things would've been different based on the colour of skin of the offender. Rape culture should not be normalized in our society and in many cases it seems to be. The fact that Brock Turner’s sentence was reduced to a mere 6 months and he only stayed for 3 months, creates an atmosphere that rape is “allowed” in our society if you're a privileged white male committing the act. Exactly a month ago Canadian Federal Court Judge Robin Camp asked a rape victim why she couldn't just keep her knees together. Absurd right? It just adds on to how people trivialize rape, blame the victim and consequently pity the perpetrators. When looking at it through a gendered lens, it is extremely serious because every women from the age of 18-25 has a 1 in 4 chance of being raped however 97% of rapists are not incarcerated, they are getting away with a crime that scars these victims for life. You also made a really good point mentioning how the media misrepresents situations, because they actually sexualize women and sometimes even make it seem as if women are asking for it, just teaching males that women do want it and it even brings rise to discussions about consent. This all tells us that indeed society is normalizing rape but something clearly needs to be done about it. You should check out this post, it has some important facts about rape that really make you think about how should be taken much more seriously. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/50-facts-rape_b_2019338.html)

The title is very catchy and this text is very well written. For the most part, I completely agree with you. It is very interesting that you chose to use the term “white supremacy”, because in my opinion, the key concept here is white privilege. Privilege: unearned assets that allow some individuals to navigate any and all social systems more easily than others people can. It can be based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, class, and so on. “Would this case have been treated differently if Turner had been black or latino? Yes.” Because race is one of the most important factors in defining privilege. The most privileged people are straight, white, men. In addition to being all of the above, Brock Turner’s wealth has also opened a lot of doors for him.
Another keyword that I would like to focus on is "rape culture". Rape culture is a culture that trivializes and normalizes rape; it is the means by which we create an atmosphere in which rape is allowed to continue, and in which it seems normal that men have unrestricted sexual access to women’s bodies.
The example of Brock Turner shows us how privilege and rape culture reinforce one another. Not only Turner being white turned to his advantage but the judge being white strengthens this privilege even more. You have made an excellent point by bringing up the long term psychological consequences that the victim will face and I would like to add that in cases like this, victims are often blamed. This tactic facilitates rape culture and makes it easier for rapists to get off on a shorter sentence.
Since this case has received a lot of attention in the media, it sets a precedent for other rapists, making them think that rape is okay and that they will get away with it because they are straight, white, men. Rape is not okay. But because of their privilege and how normalized rape is, they might get away with it, like most rapists do. One in five university-age women in North America have been sexually assaulted and only a small minority of accused rapists do jail time. This is not okay.
“Is it morally acceptable to treat someone differently because of his skin colour? No.” I agree, but does it happen? Every single day. “Rape is wrong in any case regardless of the situation.” This is the idea that we, as a society, should stand up for.
Rape has become so common; if you’re not looking for it, you probably won’t see it. Here is an article about rape on the small screen that you might find interesting. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/how-has-rape-become-such-...