Selfish People Need Selfish Stories
Kimberly Dark

Well done. You make points about more than one thing we need to be doing. Yes, we should read Tizon’s story — WITH the understanding of whose point of view we are seeing and acknowledging that there were other points of view within his story, especially that of Eudocia. Regardless of the reaction (hate him, don’t hate him, whatever), this story will serve as the starting point for many conversations. I read Ijeoma Oluo’s critique; yours is the 2nd story about his writing that I have seen. I’m sure there are others.

And we NEED, desperately need, to have these conversations which is why it is imperative that we have a chance to explore both Tizon’s point of view AND Eudocia’s. It might not hurt to imagine what this story would have been like had his father or mother written it. (I imagine it would have been a lot shorter.) The power for this particular piece is that it is not some imaginative piece of fiction. Because it is true, because it really happened, it creates the vortex of criticism (good and bad) around it.

If I am a representative sample of those who are responding, I can tell you that it has started a thought process in my head about slavery, traditions, habits, family rules, and where do I stand amongst all of that? One of the responses you have gotten is from someone who was having to mother their siblings and is dealing with the thought that they verbally and physically abused them during that time. I am having to look at myself in a mirror for that one…my brother is significantly younger than I am — 7.5 years. And I had already made the observation that he didn’t have 2 parents and a sister, he had 3 parents. And I am so sorry for that because it wasn’t right. My only “excuse” was that it came about because of my parents, who made me responsible for him, especially when they wanted to go out. Built-in babysitter. And I didn’t get paid.

When you speak of “…only option is to punish and forever ostracize those who behave poorly, secrecy could deepen.”, I would add to that thought. We’d have to completely review and change our opinions about the men we hold as the Fathers of our country. Washington and Jefferson had slaves. I don’t know if John Adams did. Every single one of the Southern delegates to the Continental Congress had slaves — it was part of the selection process, being a land owner. And in the South, if you owned enough land to be chosen, you had slaves. Those plantations and farms didn’t run themselves while the owner was in Philadelphia. From a practical sense, only the very wealthy had the leisure time to go sit in a room, talking about taxes and overthrowing King George. But what would our reassessment of those men do to our nation’s history and our common idea of “who we are”?

You said: “ Similarly, while it’s important to punish college rapists with expulsion for their crimes, if that’s the only solution, we are sending embittered men into broader venues and deepening the bond of secrecy among those who rape.” I just want to be clear about this: I do not approve nor accept “lighter” punishments for the perpetrator than the victim. I’ll chance sending embittered men into the world if we can assure the victim of some semblance of a “normal” life, without the nude photos of her rape rising out of the dross of the Internet at regular intervals.

There must be parity, insomuch as we can make it happen, between the rapist and raped in how their lives are affected by that act. Brock Turner was given a joke of a sentence because “he had such a promising future”. Well, what about his victim? Did she have a future? Was it just as full of promise? And why wasn’t she given the chance to go for that future without any rape — or at the very least, given the opportunity to go for her future without feeling even more raped because the judge failed to adequately punish a very heinous crime (three counts of felony sexual assault)?

And what if Brock Turner had been black? Totally different trial and sentence, we all know that.

More proof that we need these conversations and I am honored to participate with you and Ijeoma Oluo in this one.

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