I’m still peeved that Glamour Magazine named Brock Turner’s “rape victim” a Woman Of The Year, which set feminism back at least a hundred years by infantilizing women and insisting that the power in all situations rests solely with men. Thus, Glamour has reinforced the modern “feminist” notion that “Being a woman means never having to take responsibility for your stupidity.”
I put a post up on Facebook page expressing, in milder language, my surprise that a woman who got blind drunk, leaving her vulnerable to the possibility of rape, is a heroine. Two of my Progressive friends earnestly assured me that it was the gal’s “brave” letter that earned her that honor.
With their praise for the victim statement before me, I took the time to re-read that statement — and didn’t change my mind. Indeed, I wrote a long response to put on Facebook. Before I hit the “Enter” key, though, I realized that (a) I would not change anyone’s mind and (b) I would become a pariah in my community were I to go public with my views. I’m not cut out for pariah-hood, at least not at this stage in my life. I therefore opted not to publish my comment on Facebook and, instead, to publish it here and see what you, my valuable readers (and stalwart reality checkers) have to say.
Please be honest with me after you read my take on the matter. Am I an embittered old lady who’s forgotten what it is to be a young and foolish woman? Am I a pettifogging lawyer who puts strict legal construction above the nuances of human behavior? Or am I someone who hates to see a gal who did something stupid whine about a verdict she didn’t like and, in the process, destroy the life of a young man who, as best as I can tell on the actual evidence available, behaved neither better nor worse than she did?
Mostly, I don’t think there was anything “brave” about her anonymous letter. Lord knows, there’s nothing “brave” about my writing my ideas anonymously. Instead, as I’ve known about myself for years, there’s nothing brave about anonymity if the only thing you’re hiding from is social stigma.
Anyway, here’s my take:
I agree: we’ve all done stupid things. But one of the after-effects of our doing stupid things is either thanking God we narrowly missed horrible consequences or, if we’re not that lucky, suffering the horrible consequences and, one hopes, learning a lesson. The wise learn from their travails. The weak blame everyone else for what happened to them.
I’ve read the victim’s letter several times, as well as contemporaneous news coverage and, putting her “horrible things happened to me” rhetoric aside, a few facts stand out.
(1) They were both blind drunk. Indeed, considering a woman’s lower tolerance for alcohol, she should be grateful she didn’t die from acute alcohol intoxication or from choking on her own vomit.
(2) She has no memory anything before finding herself in the hospital being prodded and swabbed. That means she does not know whether she consented — and keep in mind that lack of consent is an essential element of a rape charge.
(3) She has no idea when she passed out, which means that it could have been long before or seconds before they were discovered behind the dumpster.
(4) Because he was also blind drunk, it’s reasonable to believe he had reached the stage at which he couldn’t distinguish a human from a rubber doll — and was just as incapable as she was of behaving in a rational manner.
(5) Those who stumbled across them, seeing her unconscious and him retreating, could reasonably recreate a rape scenario. From a legal perspective, though, that doesn’t change the fact that, because she blacked out, there is no no independent evidence of consent, absence of consent, or withdrawal of consent.
(6) It’s apparent from reading her letter that, since she has no memory whatsoever of events during or immediately after the party, the real physical assault and psychic trauma to her happened in the hospital and afterwards, with the medical team repeatedly poking and prodding every orifice and everyone around her telling her about the undignified state in which they found her and assuring her that she was a victim. In that regard, the victim was incensed that, during the trial phase of things, people dared question her about what she remembered or, in the absence of any meaningful evidence, to see if her history provided clues. (This is different from denying rape because of the victim’s “reputation,” which is what Hillary did.)
Bottom line: On the facts available, it was impossible for the prosecutor to prove that she denied him consent in the first instance or, if she had initially granted consent only to withdraw it later explicitly or by passing out, that he was sober enough to be aware of that withdrawal of consent. Viewed in that light, a six months sentence was probably excessive — although it was a decent enough punishment for a young man who was stupid enough to drink himself into oblivion and making himself vulnerable to a rape charge in this day and age.
Just for the stupidity of getting that drunk in a day and age when men are fair game on college campuses, I would probably have given him a longer sentence. The bottom line for me is that they both behaved stupidly, which is the prerogative of the young; they both deserved to suffer, which is the natural consequences of stupidity; and they both did suffer — he by being tried and convicted, and she by defining herself as a victim.
A brave and honest letter from a young woman who wanted to help other young women would have said, “Girls, never, ever, ever drink too much in a public because bad things happen.” She then would have been a useful morality tale about what not to do in social settings. As an aside, the one and only time I drank to excess (which was also the one and only time I drank), I still had the wisdom to stop while I knew what was going on. I giggled for three hours, which was vaguely amusing (at least to me), and then was desperately ill for 24 hours, which is why I never drank again. For me, being drunk wasn’t worth being hungover. Lesson learned.
Instead, her self-pitying letter essentially said, “Yeah, I shouldn’t have drunk myself into oblivion at a party full of strange men, but none of what happened is my fault. I’m a victim of everything here and it’s the guy, who happened to be drunk too, who is the only responsible party. And it made matters worse that he had the temerity even to try to defend himself against the charges against him.” Talk about a double standard. “Men are creatures in total control and responsible for everything. I, a mere woman, cannot be expected to take reasonable steps to keep myself safe.”* Color me unimpressed. Of course, given the state of modern feminism, the message that the woman is never at fault is-probably the exact message that Glamour wants to send.
(I should say that my view would be different if the gal remembered what had happened and gave credible testimony about her efforts to disengage from Turner; or if Turner had been reasonably sober or even less drunk; or if there was video or audio footage proving that Turner, even a drunken Turner, had boasted that he intended to or had already sexually assaulted an unconscious woman. But those aren’t the facts here.)
*Please note my use of the word “reasonable.” This is not to fall back into the old Hillary habit of saying the woman is always responsible because she must have done something to ask for it. Instead, this is to acknowledge that rational creatures avoid certain situations and that, if they fail to do so, the law can find them culpable for their own injuries. If you’re drunk, don’t climb a ladder or drive a car. If you’re alone and unarmed, don’t walk into a shootout. If you’re a young woman at a frat party filled with strange men, limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage.