Rape and the Value of Women: A Letter From the Father of Stanford Rapist

Gagged woman, close-up, blurred
Gagged woman, close-up, blurred

Brock Turner and his father Dan seem to be confused about what exactly it means to be a victim.

Brock Turner is the 20-year-old Stanford swimmer who was convicted of sexual assault, and then received a sentence of only six months in jail.

Brock's father, Dan Turner, wrote a letter in defense of his son, painting him as a victim of the events that unfolded on January 17th and 18th, when he raped an unconscious woman at a fraternity party. He claimed that his son, "will never be his happy go lucky self" again, that he is "consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression." And he now no longer likes steaks or pretzel chips. Tragic. He also claims that, "his life will never be the one he dreamed about, or worked so hard to achieve."

However, he has achieved exactly the life he worked to achieve when he chose to rape another person. If Brock is no longer happy go lucky, it is because he chose to commit a crime. He raped a person. He violated her. It was his action that caused his sadness. If he is consumed with worry, anxiety, or fear, it is because he raped a person. He victimized her. It was his action that caused his anxiety. These are called consequences. When you commit a heinous crime against another person, it is appropriate for you to no longer feel happy go lucky. And although that is a natural consequence, that is not justice. That is simply the regret of a young man who chose to do wrong. If you no longer enjoy steak and pretzel chips, that is appropriate. That does not make you a victim of your circumstance. It is an insignificant price to pay compared to the grief, pain, and trauma you caused a fellow human being.

Then there is this line from Brock's father:

"That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 years of life."

This sentence completely and totally diminishes the value of his victim, and the seriousness of his crime. It is this type of mindset that breeds and enables rapists like Brock Turner.

Let's be completely clear: rape is not "action."

While "action" may be a crude and disrespectful way to speak about any type of sexual encounter, it is a horrific way to describe a rape, and it gives some insight as to why this is such a prevalent issue on college campuses. If a young man can sexually violate an unconscious woman, and his father can refer to it as "20 minutes of action," this shows a basic disrespect for the value of the victim, and the seriousness of the crime. This is the mindset that feeds rape culture.

Rape is not consensual.

This woman was unconscious. She never consented. This was not "action." This was a crime.

His father claims he wasn't violent.

He raped someone. He violated her body without her consent. That is violence against her body, and her person.

He goes on to bemoan the fact that Brock has to register as a sex offender.

Brock is a sex offender. He raped someone.

He worries about the impact that his sex offender designation will have on his life in the future.

Well, perhaps he shouldn't have raped someone.

The entire letter from Dan Turner whines about all that his son has been through. It never mentions what his son has put others through. It doesn't mention his victim. It paints him as a victim of his circumstances, and is basically a plea to let him off the hook.

The message behind Dan Turner's letter is that he does not value the personhood of Brock's victim. And obviously, neither does Brock, or he would not have raped her. But he did.

Universally women are treated as lesser human beings. They are treated like property and sex objects. They are limited in their educational opportunities, employment opportunities, sold off as child brides, trafficked into sex slavery, raped, assaulted with acid, selectively aborted, abused, and murdered. It happens in under-developed countries, and it happens in developed countries. It happens in poor rural areas, in cities, and at ivy league universities. Sometimes it's blatant, but it often comes in many more subtle forms, in the form of a culture that doesn't value the personhood of victims, and victimizes perpetrators.

We must continue to work towards the full equality and value of girls and women. And this work can never stop.

It can never stop until girls and women are viewed as the immeasurably valuable people that they are. It can never stop until their human dignity is fully restored. It can never stop until they have the same opportunities available to them that are available to boys and men. It can never stop until child brides and campus sexual assaults are a thing of history.

If a man can refer to a rape committed by his son as "20 minutes of action," then we have a long way to go. If a man can whine about his son's loss of appetite being a heavy price to pay for the rape he committed, then we have a long way to go.

Dan Turner should be ashamed of his words.

But I look forward, with hope, to the day when every girl and woman is valued and respected.

Read the powerful letter written by the victim here.

Kelly is passionate about the equality of women and girls in society, especially focusing on the church.
Follow Kelly at kellyladdbishop.com or on facebook at facebook.com/kellyladdbishop