By Heather Levine. Published Saturday June 11, 2016
On June 2, 2016, Brock Allen Turner, a man of age 20, was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault, and sentenced to 6 months in county jail, for the rape of a woman that happened at Stanford University in January.
Since then, social media has erupted in anger on both sides—Most of the outcry has been in defense of the rape victim, and against the judge’s ruling, from people who believe that 6 months in a county jail is not nearly enough of a punishment for the crime committed. (For reference, the minimum sentence for just 1 of the 3 felony charges is 2 years in a state facility.) Even more discouraging is the fact that even with Turner’s lenient sentence, he will spend more time in jail than 97% of rapists. According to analysis of Justice Department data by the Rape Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), only 3 out of every 100 rapists will ever serve jail time.
Many people, including Turner’s father and friends, have taken Turner’s side, pointing to the alcohol that was consumed at the party, as if it excuses Turner’s behavior. In a letter written to Judge Aaron Persky by Turner’s father, Dan Turner, he refers to what occurred behind that dumpster as "the events of Jan. 17th and 18th" and the possible sentence a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” He explains, in great detail, how since the sexual assault conviction, Brock has lost his appetite, and “eats only to exist.” He does not acknowledge that his son’s actions affected anyone other than himself.
Especially troubling are the comments made by Turner’s female friend in another letter written to Judge Persky. In it she states that there is “no way Brock could ever be a rapist” because “he was always the sweetest to everyone,” even stating that “the whole thing [is] a huge misunderstanding.” She then makes the case that “alcohol-fueled sexual assaults on college campuses” are not the same as assaults on women who are abducted. She states, “This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgment.”
And this is where she is wrong. The very act of committing a rape is what makes someone a rapist, not the location or circumstances under which it happened. Non-consensual sex IS rape, and to split hairs because her friend is on the wrong side of the law is detrimental to everyone involved.
Perhaps 50 years ago, rape was only thought to happen when a woman was abducted and taken against her will to a sleazy apartment or hotel, or backseat of a car. Those of us who grew up before keyless entry technology can surely remember our parents and friends telling us to check the backseats of our cars before we get in, lest we find a rapist lurking in the shadows. We were told not to walk anywhere alone at night, and to keep our keys between our fingers “just in case.” However, in 2016, we know more about rape. We know that rape happens most often between people who know each other, and sometimes, yes, when women are abducted and assaulted. Rape happens in broad daylight, and it happens in public. It happens in homes, it happens at schools. How is being found behind a dumpster, naked, being penetrated by a stranger, any different from being abducted and assaulted? More importantly, how would his friend feel if SHE were the one behind that dumpster? Would she still think these shades of grey exist?
Sadly, in 2016, with as much information as we have about when and where and how rape and assault occurs, much of the blame still falls to the victim. When news about a rape case comes about, there are often more people there to tell us what the victim should have been doing, what the victim should have been wearing, what the victim should or should not have been drinking. Even in our own research for TigerLady, we have come across many people who object to the statistic given by the U.S. Department of Justice that “3 million men and 19 million women have experienced at least one incident of sexual assault,” because this figure takes into account attempted rape and assault as well as “completed” rape and assault. We don’t know where to draw the line between “attempted” assault and “completed” assault because is assault is assault, and so we continue to stand by those numbers. To us, it doesn’t matter. No instance of assault, sexual or otherwise, is acceptable.
This morning, on the Michael Smerconish show on Sirius XM, several callers weighed in on the case. Many of these callers were men, and this was likely purposeful on Smerconish’s part. More than one of them mentioned the alcohol involved in the incident, blaming the culture of drinking on college campuses for the rapes that occur. One caller recalled his own experiences with drinking and “blacking out” and outlined how he “just stopped drinking” to “fix” the problem. The thing that is truly troubling is the idea that getting rid of alcohol on college campuses will somehow “solve” the problem of rape. It’s amazing to us though, that every time there is a mass shooting in the U.S., gun-rights advocates speak up to remind us that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” If this logic follows, then it would seem that alcohol does not rape people. People rape people. Another caller asked earnestly how the victim could be affected by the “incident” if she had no memory of it. He hadn’t read the victim’s testimony.
In her now-viral emotional testimony, written directly to her rapist, the victim in the case expressed her own disbelief regarding the discussion of alcohol and the role it played: "Campus drinking culture…That's what we're speaking out against? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. You realize having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less."
Every time a woman or a man is sexually assaulted and we do not act, we are failing our women. Every time we shy away from teaching our men about consent, we are failing our women and our men. Every time a woman comes forward about a rape or assault and is met with questions about her behavior or her dress or her alcohol consumption, we are blaming the victim. We are teaching our women not to come forward. We are teaching them that the system is against them, and that no matter how long the incident stays with them, likely for the rest of their lives, they will never receive justice from the legal system.
The legal facts in the Turner case are clear—Consent cannot be given if a person is unconscious, and this victim was in fact unconscious. This case also had something that most rape cases occurring on college campuses do not: witnesses. Two cyclists who were passing saw the rape occurring, and restrained Turner until the police arrived, according to the Santa Clara County prosecutors.
And yet, Turner was portrayed for several days by the media as a “Stanford Swimmer,” being more defined by his athletic prowess than the crime he committed. News organizations showed his smiling yearbook photo, rather than his mug shot. Even facing conviction of rape, his athletic achievements were touted. It wasn’t until today, June 7th, that the headline on CNN began referring to Turner as the “Stanford Rapist.”
These words matter. This portrayal is important. Rather than teaching our men that excelling in sports and academics matters more than the way we treat other people, we need to be vigilant in teaching about consent. Men should hear just as often as women about ways to “avoid” rape. Until we treat men and women equally regarding their responsibility in these situations, we have failed.
At TigerLady, we feel a bit helpless as we watch the facts of this case come to light. We do not have all of the answers, and we are not lawyers or doctors or judges. We are mothers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles, and we want our daughters and sons and nieces and nephews to know about the role they play in reshaping the narrative around sexual assault. We want them to know that they have the right to walk freely, to go to a party, and live their lives without the fear of being raped. We want them to be prepared. And we want them to never, ever stop fighting against the stigmas that surround rape and assault.
We want them, and we want you, to know that we are here, fighting the fight. Do not let anyone discourage you from coming forward and being heard. Use your voice, loudly and often, and never let it be silenced.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of assault, you are not alone. There are resources available to help.
24/7 Confidential National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
Safe Horizon Hotlines: http://www.safehorizon.org/page/call-our-hotlines-9.html
TigerLady is officially approaching our one year mark, and we're so excited to have you, our customers, friends, and fans helping us make it happen one day at a time. You've supported us, and in turn, it's our job to do the same for the community. Please help us by voting for the organization you'd like to see us donate to this year. All these organizations are committed to women's issues and particularly women's safety. Please share your voice with us and stay safe out there.
Vote for your choice here: bit.ly/1nP67Y0
When we were kids, Halloween meant costumes, endless candy, and friends. Thankfully, as adults, Halloween is still a night of tricks-and-treats, often celebrated with friends and family at a party or a bar. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, 30% of adults will celebrate the holiday with friends, and over 60% of those ages 18-24 will attend or host a Halloween party. Though some of the rules of safety from trick-or-treating still apply to adults—travel in groups, carry a flashlight, avoid eating handmade treats made by strangers—celebrating like an adult presents its own set of challenges.
Whether your plans take you out on the town or to a house party, awareness is the key to staying safe in every situation. Here are 5 ways to keep yourself safe this Halloween:
1. Practice the buddy system: Whether your Wonder Woman costume designates you as part of a Justice League, or you’re flying solo, safety in numbers is key. We’re taught the buddy system as kids because it’s smart, and it works. Instead of walking by yourself to that party, or from your car or home, ask a friend to travel with you. It will make the trip more fun, and will ensure you’re not alone. If a small amount of solo-walking cannot be avoided, apps such as Companion (for iPhone and Android) allow you to share your GPS location with others, so you’ll always be able to see that your friends, and in turn let your friends see that you, make it home safely. Or, carry a self-protection device like TigerLady, a set of claws that come out between your fingers as fast as you can make a fist.
2. Leave a trail: Always let someone else know what your plans are before a night out. Tell a roommate, a sibling, a parent, or a friend; it’s important for someone to know where you are headed. If something happens and you don’t make it home, that person could truly be a lifesaver. If you’re going to an unfamiliar place, make sure that you know the address and pay attention to nearby landmarks. If you find yourself separated from friends or family, you’ll have better points of reference for arranging a meeting place.
3. Designate a sober driver, or arrange transportation at the beginning of the night: If you’ll be drinking, it’s important that you know how you’ll be getting home. Make the decision, and the arrangements, before you have a drink. You’ll be less likely to make impulsive and unwise decisions, like taking a ride from someone who should not be driving or does not have your best interests at heart. Another option is to elect a sober driver or “point person”—even if you’ll be on foot or taking public transportation, having a clear head in charge of key decision making is the best way to guarantee you get from point A to point B with no distractions.
4. Never leave a party with a stranger: You bonded over a shared hatred of pumpkin spice, and naturally you’re meant to be. Love at first sight, right? Unfortunately, you can’t trust everyone you meet, and you certainly can’t trust your judgment if you have been drinking. If you want to go somewhere quiet to talk to that cute guy, ask a friend to come with you, and save that first solo date for a time when you’re less party-focused and more clear-headed. Additionally, Halloween makes us feel comfortable pretending to be someone else, so it may not be the best time for this type of interaction, as consequences may not feel as real for you when you’re pretending to be someone else.
5. Never leave your drink unattended, and stay away from the punch: Hairy Buffalo, Jungle Juice, whatever it’s called in your city, it’s never wise to drink from a tub or punch bowl. These mixtures are notoriously designed to be potent, and they may contain numerous strong alcohols. Furthermore, you have no way of knowing what is in the mixture. Even if you are close friends with the people throwing the party, easy access means it’s easy for someone to slip something in the punch that shouldn’t be in there. Stick to a beer that’s been opened in front of you, or a drink that you mix yourself (from a bottle with a label.) If there’s a keg, fill your own cup or watch it happen. Never leave your drink unattended. Set your drink down for one minute and then lose track of it? Get yourself a new one.
Whether your plans find you at a movie night with your closest friends or a big night on the town, you can feel confident this Halloween with a little extra effort. Use the buddy system and leave a trail of communication. Designate a sober friend, and keep an eye on your drink. Take a few extra steps at the beginning of the night so you can enjoy the fun without worry.
Feel like you need an extra boost of confidence? It’s always a good idea to carry a self-protection device. For a great option, check out TigerLady, a new tool tool that’s always ready and gives you the added confidence of claws. Save 15% on your order with code: HALLOWEEN.
Thank's Real World Survivor for your support! We're very excited for your community to learn about TigerLady.
TigerLady is the perfect everyday carry tool for both women and men who want to be prepared, but it's also terrific for fitness and leisure runners. Check out the new "Running Grips Package" that we've added to our site. Scientific research in the field of Biomechanics has shown that running with grips in your hands can decrease strain on your arms and shoulders, and result in better running form. But when you need to protect yourself, TigerLady is ready to help.
Lastly, thanks to all the commenters and posters that are helping us keep this conversation alive.
This morning, the TigerLady team had the opportunity to tell Baltimore's FOX45 Morning Team about our new self-defense product. TigerLady is a discreet, lightweight self-defense tool that has some special features, which make it a superior option over more traditional self-defense tools. Stun guns, TASRs, and pepper spray can move over. Here are a few reasons why.
1. TigerLady is designed to fit perfectly in a woman’s hand, and unlike electric stun guns, it doesn’t rely on a wall-charger or batteries of any kind. In a world where everything runs on batteries, it is nice to have a self-defense tool that gives you everything, and expects nothing in return. You’ll never reach into your bag and grab TigerLady, only to find that it’s dead when you need it most… what a nightmare.
2. It doesn’t go bad and seats firmly in your grasp. TigerLady doesn’t lose potency over time the way pepper spray does. What’s the use in having pepper spray with you if it doesn’t remain potent? You’re probably supposed to replace it every so often, but really, who’s doing that? Plus, wind, and assaults that come from an attacker behind you are no-go’s for pepper spray. TigerLady is simply reliable.
Additionally, pepper spray needs to be pointed in the correct direction, and the awkward way you have to hold it makes it easy to disarm or knock away. TigerLady firmly plants in your palm in an intuitive way, and when you make a fist, good luck trying to disarm it.
3. TigerLady becomes a natural extension of your body. We’ve heard some comments on Facebook that TigerLady allows a potential attacker to get too close. This premise relies on the idea that people have an opportunity to choreograph their assault. We all know that this is ridiculous — you never know what someone else will do. Sometimes things (and people) get too close for comfort, and when that’s the case, you need a way to create some space. Considering that about 90% of attacks by men happen without any weapon, we think TigerLady will do the trick. We think the best defenses are awareness and confidence, and TigerLady can help provide a sense of both. Learn how it works.
4. It’s modeled after a proven self defense mechanism directly from nature. TigerLady is based on one of nature’s most efficient, and effective self-defense mechanisms. It’s based on a cat’s retractable claws. Cats of all sizes have been using retractable claws to feed and protect themselves since the beginning of time. A cat’s paw is a soft ball of seemingly harmless fur, hiding a fierce set of sharp claws that can be summoned at a moments notice. That is TigerLady.
Simply put, our fingernails aren’t meant to absorb the stress of an assault. TigerLady provides a set of sturdy claws when you need them. And, hollow channels on the underside of the claws are designed to capture DNA. Once you relax your hand, and the claws retract, the DNA is protected in the body of the unit.
These are just some of the reasons TigerLady is a better choice than the mundane options that nobody carries anyway. Stun guns and pepper spray were developed for crowd-control and military use. Women’s self-defense is a secondary market for these companies. Furthermore, making a product in pink doesn’t automatically make it a good everyday carry choice for women. TigerLady is easy to carry. It weighs next to nothing, and it’s always ready. Check it out!
Also, check out the brand new "Running Grips Package" that we've added to our site. Scientific research in the field of Biomechanics has shown that running with grips in your hands can decrease strain on your arms and shoulders, and result in better running form.
Lastly, thanks to all the commenters and posters that are helping us keep this conversation alive.
Thank you so much to Debi Lantzer and 2014 & Beyond for your terrific review of TigerLady! We're so excited by your kind words and encouragement!
Check out the entire review here.