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Mr Stanford Swimmer

You see him leaving the building. His shirt is ironed, his hair combed, but his face looks gaunt. He walks through the crowd of vicious reporters, each trying to get an exclusive or a response. The guards around him guide him into a car, and he slips away, back into the world. This shouldn’t be happening to him. He’s only twenty one. This shouldn’t happen, not yet.

No. He should still be locked up.

I am, of course, talking about Brock Turner. For those who do not know, Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious woman with intent of rape, and was stopped when he was tackled by passers-by. The twenty-one year old was given a sentence of six months prison time, and has just been released; three months early. His recommended prison time was a minimum of six years. There are people serving more time in prison for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Good going America.

I don’t want to talk about the trial or the incident or whether his race, class, and gender had anything to do with his reduced sentence (I most certainly think it did); I want to talk about what his reduced sentence means. What it means to me, to the victim, to hundreds of thousands of women across the world.

I must ask, do you like walking in the dark? I used to love it. Holding onto my parent’s hands, looking at the stars, feeling the quietness settle around me. Then, I learnt to watch the news, I heard stories, I grew up. It all changed. I hate walking at night. I despise it. I learnt to walk with my keys in-between my fingers claws, just in case. I hold back tears as the drunk man crosses the road ahead of me, because I fear the worst. I call my boyfriend or my parents or anyone, as women are less likely to be attacked if they are talking to someone. I waste away my hard earned cash on a taxi from work as I can’t trust the darkness or the drunken louts that hide there.

Let me ask another question; do you enjoy partying? I do. I mean, most of the time. There are some downsides to it. You buy a drink that you don’t really like because it’s more difficult to spike a bottle than a glass. You move as a pack, everywhere you go, so one of you is not alone; it’s unsafe to be alone in an environment like that. You just want to let go and drink and relax, but you can’t help that the worst might happen if you do. If it happened to a friend, on your ‘watch’, you would feel like it was your fault they were hurt.

We are so full of fear and yet we are so immune to the cause. Think of the men across the street shouting what they would like to do to you – you think, ‘it’s just a cat call, it could be a lot worse’. That unsolicited grope on the dance floor – ‘I mean, I was wearing a short skirt’. Your friend tells you when they were pushed in an alley and assaulted – ‘oh yeah, the same thing happened to my friend at home’.

Do you know why we are so used to it and yet so, so scared? Do you know why I walk home from work praying I won’t be seen? Do you know why most girls think it is inevitable they will be sexually assaulted? It’s because people are still getting away with it. Turner is a disgusting and prime example. His sentence was reduced as it might ‘ruin his chances of a good life’. Then he gets out three months earlier. People make excuses for him. ‘He made a mistake’. ‘He was drunk’. ‘Hey, we all make mistakes when we are drunk’. Sure, I’ve made mistakes when I was drunk, but I’ve never taken an unconscious girl around the back of a dumpster and assaulted her. Being drunk is not a crime. Sexual assault is. Turner is free to walk around and live his life again, almost free of charge. He’s got to do community service and is on the register, but that is not enough. Mr Stanford Swimmer. A Promising Student. Mistaken Young Man. Let’s just call him what he is – a Sex Offender. And it’s him, people like him, that make the rest of us scared.

Maybe if people were correctly punished for rape and sexual assault, I wouldn’t have to fear for my life when I walk home alone…

(Originally posted on September 3rd 2016 @ https://rosiealou.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/mr-stanford-swimmer/)

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