Earlier this school year, Brock Allen Turner stripped, fingered, mounted, and humped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at Stanford University.
Earlier this school year, my 11-year-old got her first cell phone. A few months later, the phone rang and a young boy screamed into it, loud enough for me to hear, “I just want you to know that I think you’re a fucking bitch!”
Brock’s victim woke up in a hospital with sticky pine needles in her hair, her underwear gone. She had no idea what had happened. She left the hospital and didn’t want to talk about that night. She didn’t tell her boyfriend or parents for weeks.
My daughter said that the phone call wasn’t a big deal, that boys at her school say stuff like this to girls all the time. She said that it didn’t bother her, that she didn’t even really know this boy. She wouldn’t talk about it with me or my partner.
Brock’s father wrote: “This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action […] I know as his father, that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock.”
I called the parents of this 11-year-old boy, who I don’t know, and the father said, “I think we should just let the kids work it out. I know he didn’t mean it. He feels bad enough. He says your daughter is always nice to him.” The mother said she would return our call, but didn’t.
In the Brock Turner trial, the lawyers asked the victim about her sexual history, what she was wearing, how much she weighed, how much she’d had to drink. Brock said she’d given consent.
People asked me, “Did your daughter do something to upset this boy?” Our friends, other parents of 11-year-old daughters and sons, said that the boy probably did it because he had a crush on our daughter.
Brock has been given six months in the county jail instead of the potential 14 years in state prison, because the judge worried about the impact prison time would have on his young life.
I reported the incident with this boy to the school office and the school counselor said, “These boys don’t even know what they’re saying. They don’t mean it. They hear these things on TV and in movies, then repeat them. He will feel so embarrassed if we call him out on it, and it didn’t actually happen on school property.”
I’m not afraid to say it: This is where rape culture begins. It starts early, and we don’t see it for what it is until it’s too late — heinous crimes have been committed and lives are ruined. It’s time for this to stop. Do something. Say something. Teach your sons to respect girls. Teach young men to respect and protect women, to listen to them. And make the punishment fit the crime.