Skip to main content

Rape is Not a Spelling Error

There is certainly no shortage of blog posts out there about Brock Turner and his terrible crime. Writers far more prolific than myself have dissected the entire case, have shamed the judge Aaron Persky, have expressed outrage at Brock's father's statements. So my addition to the pile is going to be nothing unique, but still I feel compelled to throw my two cents in.

There are many reasons to be angry about this story; the latest in a never ending series of disappointments when it comes to our culture and the way we handle rape. But I am a writer. I focus on words. And there is one word that keeps coming up that really drives me crazy.

Mistake.

As in Brock Turner made a "mistake." 

He got drunk, found an equally drunk, mostly unconscious woman, and oopsy, accidentally raped her.  Cause you know, alcohol.

Here is the definition of the word mistake: 

an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.




Rape is not a miscalculation. Missing your turn on the freeway is a miscalculation.

Rape is not a misunderstanding. It is not a slip. It is not a blunder.

Hanging your queen in a chess match is a blunder. Rape is something different entirely.

Listen I have been drunk in my life. Very, very drunk. Throwing up on random street corners in New Orleans drunk. And I even did some things in college while intoxicated that I would consider "mistakes". 

And my friends at the time, who were also very drunk, did some stupid stuff as well. Like the time my buddy left the bar and wandered off through the meat packing district in the middle of the night because he was "walking home".  That was a mistake. 2am pizza, always a mistake. There were drunk arguments, drunk kisses, dancing country on the top of a bar called the Village Idiot, which thankfully no longer exists. All the kind of stupid messy things college kids get into when drinking.

At no point did any of my friends rape anyone. Why? Because they weren't rapists. They didn't kill anyone either. Because they weren't murderers.

Sure alcohol can make you lose your inhibitions and do things like run naked through a parking lot or jump into the ocean in January. But forcing yourself sexually on an unconscious woman is not a mistake. It is a crime. It is a violent attack on another human being that no amount of drunkenness can make any different. You don't rape someone because you are drunk. You rape someone because for some reason, deep down, a part of you believes that this behavior is ok. Because you think you are entitled to a little fun. Because whatever, its no big deal. Because the line between consensual and non-consensual sex is kind of blurry for you. Because it turns out that actually, drunk or not, you are a rapist.

Who is to blame for this? Is it your parents? Is is society? Is it college itself, an environment that often seems to encourage drunken stupidity just as much as it encourages improving the mind. And does this act mean you cannot learn and change? Does it mean you are a horrible person who deserves to die? 

No but a slightly longer prison sentence wouldn't hurt.

Listen, I am sure Brock Turner regrets what he did to that girl and I hope he grows up to be a wonderful man. But right now, at this moment in time, he is a rapist. He is not a misguided college swimmer who made a mistake. 

College students get drunk and hook up all the time. Sometimes they cheat on their girlfriends and boyfriends in the process, and when they wake up the next morning with cotton mouth and a pounding headache they will regret everything they did. They will text their significant other with a desperate pleading "I am so sorry. I made a mistake." 

But there is no amount of alcohol that can cloud your mind enough to suddenly make using an unconscious woman as a blow up doll ok. 

By the way, in case you were wondering I am one of those people who believes in both sides of the coin. I certainly think we need to teach our boys about consent. But as the mother of a someday college-aged daughter, I am sure as hell going to teach her about what to watch out for. I am going to warn her about drinking too much. I am going to warn her about putting herself in a situation with a boy that will be difficult to extract herself from. Not because a woman who parties too hard is "asking to be raped", but because in the end the only person who can really protect my daughter is my daughter herself. 

Also by the time Maya gets to college she is going to be a black belt in like four different martial arts so I am not really worried about her.

But please, please stop saying this dude made a mistake. This was not a drunken hookup between two sloppy, giggling co-eds. This was not even a case of "she started kissing me but then she changed her mind"; still not a reason to rape but understandably confusing for everyone. No, this was just assault. No different than me punching you dead in the face and then claiming it was an accident. My arms, my fault. Your penis, your fault. Period.

Oh and while we are on this topic, can everyone please stop talking about what a great swimmer this dude was. It is insulting to all of us other athletes.

Speaking of which, I am going to get ready for jiu-jitsu class. I will try really, really hard not to make any "mistakes" on the way there. 





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

November 20, 2018

This morning, while out walking my dog, I watched a mother put her young boy onto the school bus. "Have a good day," she said. "Listen to your teacher."

The boy, who was about five years old, replied that of course he would, although it was unclear which of his mom's wishes he was agreeing to.

Listening. So and so is a "good listener." We talk so much about it, but many of us have no idea how to actually do it., so caught up in the words inside our own head that it is almost impossible to hear anything else. Yeah I am listening to you, but not really, I am really thinking about the next thing I am going to say. I am listening to you, but not really, because even though you know an awful lot about this, deep down my egotistical brain still thinks I know better. I am listening, but not really because even though you just showed the technique in perfect detail three times, and I swore I was really paying attention, somehow when it was my turn to drill it…

Namaste

For the past two days I have been feeling sick; an obvious side effect of spending so much time getting breathed on by small, germy children. This morning I was feeling much better, but not well enough for BJJ, so I decided to go to a yoga class instead. Turns out I was not quite well enough because about halfway through class my body was like, "Hey you, sick girl, you are kind of tired, this feels kind of yucky actually. How about you spend some time in child's pose instead."
As a lifelong athlete I am really, really good at getting messages from my body. I am less skilled, however, at actually following them.
This was not a difficult yoga class. But for me, today, it was impossible. My brain really did not like that. As I sat there with my eyes closed, breathing, the ever helpful voice in my head was saying things like "Everyone must think I am so weak. The teacher must think there is really something wrong with me. I should push through anyway. This is pathetic.&qu…

Roller Coaster

Its the roller coaster that gets me. The fact that you are just going along, doing your work, slowly climbing up, everything is going exactly according to plan, then Zoom!, down you go, fast, maybe not all the way to the bottom again, maybe somewhere halfway, but man you got there FAST! And now here we go again, back on the slow climb.
Some days it feels like you are doing everything right, you are busting your ass to accomplish all of your goals in every way that you know how, yet things just aren't going the way you want them to. On those days it is easy to get angry at the world. Don't you see I am doing my best here? Don't you see how hard I am working? OMG just get the f&*k out of my way! Stop asking for more of me! Can't you see I don't have any more??
But the thing is, that down part, it is on the track. It is part of the ride. it has always been a part of the ride. We knew if was coming, we could see it at the top of the long climb up. We didn't know…