What you don’t see in Fittle and why design needs to be deeper than the surface?

On how certain poor design get away as great design

This is an overdue critique that I wanted to write long ago but got delayed for reasons unknown. Maybe it is better late than never. So here it is.

Design is becoming a buzz word to sell any bullshit as a valuable design thought. If you are a designer or a design enthusiast, you might have come across this project called ‘FITTLE’ — a learning aid for blind. This small project packaged beautifully with tons of self-promotion, claims to make learning easier for the blind. At first look, it appears like a simple and may be even an effective solution for the perceived problem of the blind. But on a second look, aren’t you wondering how come such a straight-forward solution does not already exist in the market? Now if you’re like me you’d have googled it up — and well aren’t you surprised to see tons of similar products that already exist in the market.

And then if you dig a little deeper into the subject of how a blind person actually learns or perceives the world, you will be terribly surprised to learn that the very foundation of FITTLE is severely flawed. And it makes you wonder how did FITTLE manage to be a finalist in Interaction14 awards?

There exist many professional studies that clearly prove that visually impaired people cannot ‘understand’ or ‘discern’ shapes in isolation. Cognitively, shapes are perceived by the visual memory of our brain. And for someone whose visual memory has been compromised, the shapes do not mean anything. Thus piecing pieces of a FISH together to touch and feel the shape of a FISH, does not make sense to the visually impaired. Although it may make sense to people with normal vision, which is why we think it will work.

It may sound counter intuitive. And that’s why it is easy to miss it. And that’s why design needs to investigate things deeper than the surface. Many professional studies are easily available online for any designer to investigate into the subject before building a fancy product based on popular stereotypes of blind. In FITTLE’s case, they claim to tackle both perception and learning of the blind. The above mentioned issues are just with the aspect of perception let alone learning of the blind. Learning is a much more complex problem in the case of the blind, I really doubt if FITTLE is even looking at it, although they claim to solve it.

Design is becoming a key differentiation in all industries. People who have not even heard of design are trying to understand and learn our way of thinking. Why do they do that? Yes, certainly we are cool, awesome and can make beautiful things. But more importantly, as designers we think beyond the obvious. We look deeper than the surface and design for that. And that’s why design is powerful and that’s why people try to learn our way of thinking.

But as said in the movie Spiderman, power comes with responsibility. In that sense instead of investing effort in taking a 3d printed fish to mountain peaks and different media events,

had they invested one tenth of that time & effort in actually understanding the blind and the way they learn, we will not be having another “me too” product in the name of FITTLE, packaged as an elixir for blind learning disabilities.
And that’s what design is meant to do.


About the author: Ella is an Interaction design consultant based out of Chicago. Prior to have started her own design consultancy, she was working with IDEO for almost a decade. She teaches design thinking in various design schools in US and UK and passionate about design and its various manifestations.

Next Story — How I Used & Abused My Tesla — What a Tesla looks like after 100,000 Miles, a 48 State Road trip…
Currently Reading - How I Used & Abused My Tesla — What a Tesla looks like after 100,000 Miles, a 48 State Road trip…

How I Used & Abused My Tesla — What a Tesla looks like after 100,000 Miles, a 48 State Road trip, 500 Uber Rides, 20 Rentals & 2 AirBnB sleepovers.

Most $100,000 cars are babied by their owners. Never taken out except on a warm Sunday. Garaged and kept with extremely low mileage. Only driven by the owner, not even allowed to be driven by a spouse, much less a stranger.

Not my poor Tesla.

I’ve worked that thing like a rented freaking mule.

So, you ask, how did the Tesla hold up? What’s it actually look like now? What are the exact operating costs, repair numbers and dollars spent & earned on this car over the 2 years of ownership?

Read on to find out all the gory details…and the photos to prove it.

It all started on August 27th, 2014 when I purchased my Blue Tesla Model S P85. I bought it used with 35,000 miles from a local Phoenix owner for $79,000. It originally sold for well over $100K when new.

Here’s the car when I bought it with the original 21" Turbine wheels:

In just under 2 years, on August 16th 2016, I reached dual milestones: 100,000 Miles and 500 Uber Rides.

100,000 Miles & 500 Uber Rides happened within the same hour on August 16, 2016

As this was the first really expensive car I’ve owned, I needed to find a way to help pay for the car. Naturally, Uber came to mind so I signed up and actually gave the first official Uber ride in Flagstaff AZ when they opened the market on September 17th, 2014. As it turned out, this would be just one of many firsts for this particular Tesla. Here’s the tweet from the Uber rep in Flagstaff:

I ended up getting commercial insurance as I wanted to do UberBlack, the high end service. However, I didn’t actually get activated on Black for another 5 months as there was a waiting list in Phoenix. My first UberBlack ride was worth the wait: It was during the SuperBowl in Phoenix, and it was a ride that cost $305 of which I made $225.

My First UberBlack ride during SuperBowl 49 in Phoenix

During the same SuperBowl week, something crazy happened. My Tesla was getting world wide press.

Why?

Oh, just this little story about how I rented out my Tesla as “The World’s Fastest Hotel” on AirBnb. The story went completely viral as it was on CNN, CBS, ABC World News Tonight, and more blogs than I could count.

And yes, while I turned down several potential renters I did have 2 automotive reporters pay $85 & $385 (after I upped the price hoping to discourage more guests) to sleep in my Tesla as it was parked in my garage.

Awkward? Oh hell yes.

Funny? Certainly.

A real business idea? Ummm, that would be a big fat NO.

That media frenzy is what inspired my next Tesla adventure, the admittedly poorly named “Million Dollar Tesla Trip”. It was a 4.5 month, 27,615 mile journey across all 48 States plus Canada where I video interviewed interesting & inspiring people in the Tesla as we drove across the country. Interviewees ranged from founders of incredible charities, to the former Driver for Martin Luther King, several authors, lots of fellow Tesla owners, and another cross country road tripper who was volunteering with 50 youth organizations in all 50 States. It became the longest continuous road trip in an electric vehicle (unofficially) and I was the first Tesla owner to visit 200 SuperChargers. Read about my Top 11 Tips for Road Tripping in a Tesla.

After completing the massive road trip, I started renting my Tesla out on Turo.com, the “AirBnB for Cars” in October of 2015. Since my job is renting out Vacation Rentals, it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to rent out my Tesla. Turo provides the match-making service as well as insurance, so it’s worth their 25% cut.

Since I ditched my commercial insurance before the trip and wasn’t too excited about the low UberX rates, I didn’t restart driving for Uber till July of this year. I’m able to do UberX, the cheapest service, along with Select which is reserved for nicer cars and is about 2X the price although only about 1 in 15 rides is Select. Once I started though, it’s become somewhat addicting, but the beauty is I can quit or slow down any time.

Uber’s prices are so low, it really doesn’t pay to drive for Uber in an expensive vehicle especially if earning an income is your only goal. Personally, I wouldn’t Uber in any car besides a Tesla. I do it for several reasons: a great excuse to drive more, sharing the Tesla experience, and it’s fun meeting the mostly cool passengers. If you use it smartly, it can be a lot of fun, and slightly profitable.

There is no better way an individual owner can help Tesla achieve its mission “To Accelerate the Advent of Sustainable Transport” than to drive for Uber or Lyft.

One of the ways to Uber with very little time investment is to use Uber’s commute option where it only offers you riders going your same direction. This way you are paid for going where you were going already. Make someone smile while making some lunch money. Not too bad.

Total Cost of Ownership:

Cost of Tesla: $79,000 used with 35,000 miles

Regular Maintenance Cost over 65,000 miles in 24 months:

  • “Annual Service”: $600 (Yes, I’ve only done this once at 49,000 miles. Probably not a bad idea to do another soon)
  • 2 sets of tires: $1700
  • Oil Changes: Hahahahaha
  • Brakes? Nope. The regenerative braking does 95% of the work and recharges my battery at the same time.

Total Maintenance = $2300

Out of Pocket Repairs from 50,000 to 100,000 miles:

  • 12v Battery $400
  • Door Handle Repair $1000
  • Wheel well fasteners $80

Total Repairs = $1500

Total Maintenance + Repairs = $3800. Keep in mind, 65,000 miles is 5 years of “normal” driving at 13,000 a year.

I’d love to hear about any other $100K car go that far (with 50,000 miles out of warranty) and cost less than $4000 ALL IN? Oh, and I’ve probably spent less than $1,000 on electricity as well.

Earnings:

Uber — 500 Rides totaling $6,142.47 in 9 active months = $682 average per month. Less than 1 month was on UberBlack. Most of it was on UberX & Select.

Other Rides: $360

Turo — 20 Rentals totaling $6652.25 in 11 months = $604 average per mo.

AirBnb— 2 Rentals totaling $470

Total Tesla Income =$13,624.72 / 24 months = $567.69 a month average

Tesla Road Trip Savings: My 27,615 mile (the circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles) 48 State plus Canada road trip cost $8.37. I had to pay for electricity 2 times, the rest was FREE thanks to the Tesla SuperCharger network. There were about 180 SuperChargers when I started the trip. There are now almost 300 in the USA. Gas savings assuming a 25 MPG car using a national average of $2.75 a gallon = $3037.

I also used the “Tesla Hotel” about 20 times out of the 132 nights on the road since the Tesla allows you to run the A/C or heat all night with no issues. With an average hotel cost of $75, this saved me $1500.

Total Road Trip Savings of just over $4500.

Should I have purchased the Extended Warranty?

As 50,000 miles approached, I had to decide wheather or not to purchase the Tesla Extended Warranty for $4000. This would extend the regular warranty to 100,000 miles. My choice? I was confident in the Tesla so I rolled the dice. No warranty for me.

As I hit 100,000 miles, I finally found out if I had made the right decision.

As noted above I spent $1500 out of pocket versus $4000 on the warranty so I made out by $2500.

Tesla also has an 8 year, unlimited mileage warranty for the Drive Train & Battery. This was great, as I did have the drive train replaced at about 65,000 miles and the battery replaced at about 76,000 miles. Tesla service was beyond fantastic in dealing with both issues and I was on my way with zero out of pocket cost.

The moral of the story? The Tesla isn’t a typical prissy $100,000 car. It’s meant to be driven, and driven hard. It’s not just a daily driver, it’s a high performance yet practical and extremely safe car. It’s better than a traditional car in so many categories it’s fall down funny.

So, you want to see the 100,000 mile photos??

Tesla with 100,000 miles and 19" Cyclone wheels — not as sexy as the 21’s but more economical
A few bits of road wear. The Xpel protectant has helped avoid rock chips
Some Road Rash courtesy of the concrete jungle: Manhattan, NYC

In my opinion, the Tesla has held up very well. Most of my Uber riders are very surprised when I tell them the car is almost 4 years old. Yes, there are a few more minor blemishes on the paint, but nothing out of the ordinary for 100,000 miles. I really don’t think you could tell any difference between my car and any other with similar milage even though I’ve given 500 Uber rides and rented the car out 20 times to complete strangers on Turo.

I implore any Tesla owner to throw out any notions of keeping your Tesla to yourself because you are worried you will ruin the car.

Share the hell out of it!

Sign up for Uber or Lyft and give people rides. Trust me, their reactions alone are worth it when they hop in your Tesla. Let others get a taste and they will soon realize what we already know. Let’s help spread the word about these world changing cars. My experience should prove that your car can take all the abuse you can dish out and then some.

Bonus Prediction:

I think even Tesla fans and industry analysts are massively underestimating what Tesla will do in the next few years with the cheaper Model 3 that should be fully autonomous shortly after it’s released. I think Tesla could sell 1 to 2 million units a year by 2020.

Tesla Model 3 starting at $35,000

To clarify, I believe the demand for that volume will be there, but the hard part is being able to ramp up production that fast. Odds say that will be tough to pull off.

However, once people realize they can pay $35,000 for a killer car that can earn them $30,000 in a year by simply pressing a button and telling your car to go pick up passengers for you while you work or sleep — it’s game over.

Wait, a car that makes me money?

Wait, a car that can drive me across the state for free, while I sleep or get work done? It can autopilot me through stop and go traffic, but I can drive it like Mario Andretti on the weekends?

Yes, please.

Not only will this affect car sales, but airlines will see more people shifting to driving vs flying and it will even make not owning a car more practical. This, along with many other ripple effects we are not even thinking about yet.

Bring on the disruption. It’s coming and coming fast. Just like a Tesla.

Next Story — Bel Pesce e o empreendedorismo de palco: porque a Menina do Vale não vale tanto assim
Currently Reading - Bel Pesce e o empreendedorismo de palco: porque a Menina do Vale não vale tanto assim

Bel Pesce e o empreendedorismo de palco: porque a Menina do Vale não vale tanto assim

[ ADENDO ] Fiz um vídeo sobre essa coisa toda. Toma.

Quando fiz meu vídeo sobre o hilariante fiasco da campanha de crowdfunding da “hamburgueria” Zebeleo (sim, ainda tenho um implicância quase irracional com esse termo desnecessariamente gourmetizado), fui duramente criticado por reduzir a tal Bel Pesce a “um desses playboys aí” com o que muitos julgaram ser um ar de desmerecimento.

O vídeo da presepada dos três foi tirado ao ar, mas a internet jamais nos priva dessas coisas. Aqui está o reupload:

Eu jamais tinha ouvido falar na moça, pra surpresa de muitos, e minha suposição é que ela era apenas mais um rosto entre essa turminha de hipstersmillenials descoladinhos e cosmopolitas que orbitam o mundo marketeiro brasileiro enquanto repetem jargões da propaganda. Você sabe, aquela galera que está sempre inovando o mindset 2.0 do paradigma com sinergias do brand pra agregar ao engajamento do upcycling de um job e coisa assim.

Ledo engano. Fui informado que, em vez disso, a garota é uma wunderkind brasileira sem paralelos. Formada pelo célebre MIT, a menina passou por pelas mais consagradas instituições do mundo da tecnologia — Microsoft e Google –, e até meteu o dedo no sistema bancário. Não parando por aí, ela também fundou várias empresas (uma delas que, seguindo a cartilha de sucesso no Vale do Silício, foi posteriormente vendida por milhões).

E após todo esse sucesso que não deixa a desejar perante as biografias dos grandes luminários da tecnologia como Bill Gates, Steve Jobs ou Elon Musk, Bel Pesce voltou ao Brasil pra injetar uma necessária dose de empreendedorismo na nossa combalida economia.

Em outras palavras: eu sou um perdedor imbecil invejoso e a garota é um prodígio promissor que trouxe reconhecimento e o espírito empreendedor ao Brasil.

Da mesma forma que minha falta de respeito com os respeitáveis louros da garota provocou incômodo em muitos, houve um outro tipo de chateação no vetor oposto — alguns inscritos se revoltaram com a oportunidade que eu perdi de expor a moça que, de acordo com eles, é uma charlatã do emergente (e lucrativo) mundo do chamado “empreendedorismo de palco”. A mulher é uma fraude, insistiam alguns, e quando ouviram seu nome saindo de minha boca, eles esperavam que o foco do meu vídeo seria desmantelar a fachada de sucesso que a garota montou à base de palestras de auto-ajuda vazia salpicada com clichês requentados do tipo “acredite no seu sonho” e “cada derrota é uma lição aprendida”.

Esses detratores fizeram a moça soar como um Robert Kiyosaki de saias, isso é: um suposto empreendedor que é referenciado e reverenciado exclusivamente por gente iludida com promessas de riqueza e glória através de esquemas furados. Da mesma forma como o Kiyosaki é um profeta da galera das pirâmides financeiras, a Pesce seria da turminha com gana de “empreender”.

Incerto de qual dessas versões de Bel Pesce seria mais fiel à realidade (e já antecipando que a verdade estaria mais ou menos na intersecção das duas, o que é geralmente o caso), fiz o que fui ensinado a fazer dois mil anos atrás nas minhas aulas de Metodologia Científica na UFMA — observei sistematicamente, verifiquei a veracidade dos fatos propostos, e elaborei uma hipótese passiva da revisão por pares.

E a hipótese em que cheguei, lastreada nos fatos que discutirei nesse texto, é a terceira etapa do processo. Sejam meus pares e digam-me aí vocês o que pensam.

Então. Pra entender melhor a biografia da moça, fiz o mesmo que faço quando a solução de um puzzle num videogame me escapa: recorri ao Google.

Fui levado ao seu site em inglês, onde é declarado que:

She studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she got Majors in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and Management Science, and got Minors in Economics and Mathematics.

Eu franzi a testa. É uma forma particularmente curiosa falar qual a sua formação acadêmica dizendo que tem “majors em X” e “minors em Y”, e pra entender porque, preciso explicar como funciona a educação superior gringa.

Nos EUA/Canadá, o processo de formação acadêmica permite que as disciplinas eletivas (ou seja, aquelas que não são diretamente fundamentais para o seu diploma) se agreguem de forma que você pode ser dito um mini-especialista num determinado assunto que foge da sua área principal, mas é também do seu interesse. Por exemplo: tenho um amigo que é formado em Biologia (ou seja, esse é o seu “major”; ele é biólogo, essa é a área de enfoque da sua carreira acadêmica e seu título), com um “minor” em Psicologia. Ele não é um psicólogo e nem pode se meter a diagosticar ninguém; ele tem apenas conhecimento superficial dos fundamentos da psicologia.

Que fique claro: o objetivo do minor é puramente saciar um interesse leve duma disciplina. Academicamente falando, é pouca coisa acima de ler artigos na Wikipédia sobre um assunto. Não é vantagem que se conte.

Além disso, dentro da cultura norte-americana, a linguagem do “tenho um major em X” é típica de alguém que cursou algo, não completou, mas quer ainda usar este fato para imbuir-se de autoridade acadêmica num determinado assunto, levando o interlocutor a concluir que está falando com um especialista formado naquela area.

Seria como eu querer usar o fato de que “cursei Física!” pra soar erudito e detentor da razão num assunto científico, omitindo o fato de que não me formei e que foi há tanto tempo atrás que não lembro mais de quase nada do curso.

Isso talvez se deva, naturalmente, a uma certa de falta de familiaridade da garota com a cultura e a língua (ou não, já que ela morou lá por sete anos), mas me deixou com várias pulgas atrás da orelha. A sintaxe mais comum seria dizer algo como “I have a degree in X”; informar major e minor é desnecessário.

…exceto, é claro, caso você queira pintar-se como um super-especialista que domina inúmeros campos diferentes. Ao longo da minha “investigação”, descobri que parece recorrente o hábito da empreendedora de exagerar seus feitos usando palavreado vago.

A impressão que acabei tendo da Bel Pesce é, talvez mais do que os “Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and Management Science, Economics and Mathematics” que seu site enumera, a área em que ela é realmente expert é aumentar seu capital social aparente inflando seus feitos através de uma linguagem cirurgicamente específica que, embora evite entrar descaradamente na mentira, tem um claro design de induzir o interlocutor ao engano em relação às suas realizações.

Sabe o cara que descreve seu trabalho de caixa no McDonalds como “analista responsável pelo fluxo de capital operacional de uma grande empresa multinacional”? É nesse território em que estamos, e eu acho que posso provar isso de forma inegável.

Foi por isso que a moça parecia ter diplomas de Schrodinger — o número de canudos dela sempre variava entre 4 e 6 dependendo de quem estava escrevendo a matéria em português, um sintoma perceptível da dificuldade brasileira em compreender o que diabo seriam os “majors” e “minors”. “Bota aí que ela tem seis ‘diplomas’ mesmo, porra”, consigo ouvir mentalmente o redator preguiçoso ordenando alguém a simplificar a coisa.

E se a Bel Pesce se incomodava em publicarem erroneamente que ela era uma multi-profissional especialista em tudo e um pouco mais, ela não fez grandes esforços pra esclarecer isso.

Esse detalhe de “major/minors” (ao mesmo tempo que parce deliberadamente evitar se identificar como formada) foi justamente o proverbial “onde tem fumaça, tem fogo” que desencadeou meu interesse em verificar as supostas conquistas da moça. Se a moça tivesse dito desde o começo “sou formada em X e Y, ponto”, eu não precisaria ter que escrever 10 parágrafos explicando isso, porque ninguém estaria pensando que a mulher tem um número surreal de formações e usando isso como argumento de que ela não pode estar errada. Como falei, fazer acreditarem que ela é uma profissional com múltiplas áreas de expertise não foi acidente — foi por desígnio.

Olha até a porra da UNICAMP falando que a mulher “se formou simultaneamente em cinco faculdades: engenharia elétrica, ciência da Computação, administração, matemática e economia“.

Em seu site em português, ela diz com todas as letras que se formou em cinco disciplinas. Ela também omite, mas é óbvio, que “Electrical Engineering and Computer Science” é um curso só no MIT,e não dois como ela obviamente tenta fazer parecer.

Diga-se de passagem, através do link aí do OpenCourseWare você pode literalmente assistir todas as aulas, acompanhar todos os exercícios do curso, fazer as provas e tudo. Espantoso!

Voltando às lorotas da Bel. Essa forma estranhamente inflada de descrever sua formação, somado a sites gringos dizendo explicitamente que ela “dropped out of MIT” (ou seja, “largou o MIT”), me faz pensar que nem formada ela é. Não estou dizendo que ela não é — estou dizendo que ela usa linguagem típica de quem não é, e que isso é… estranho. Uma formanda do MIT não deveria precisar desse tipo de palavreado pra inflar seu currículo.

O que ela está tentando esconder…?

[ Adendo ] Ficou mais claro agora que o “dropped out” se refere ao mestrado, e não ao bacharelado. O que não a impediu de listar o mestrado no seu LinkedIn, o que me parece impróprio. Não há nenhuma admissão lá de que o mestrado é incompleto (de fato, não sei nem por que colocar um mestrado incompleto no LinkedIn).

Na verdade eu sei — pra induzir o leitor a concluir que ela tem mestrado. Não há outra explicação, e é um comportamento harmônico com os outros que esse texto revela.

[ Adendo ] Surgiu agora a evidência que ela tem, sim, uma formação no MIT. Por que ela achou necessário inflar uma pra cinco (já que uma formação no MIT é por si só um estupendo mérito), é intrigante.

Esse ponto foi a única questão que confundiu alguns leitores, pelo jeito. Vou trocar em miúdos: Em inglês, Bel diz ter X majors e Y minors. Em portugues, ela diz ter X+Y diplomas. Só que major/minor e diploma não é a mesma coisa; alguém (com intenção de aumentar seus próprios feitos) pode dizer ter “majored in X” sem necessariamente ter se formado, visto que você declara o major antes de se formar.

Essa incongruência me deixou curioso e foi o pontapé da pesquisa.

Aliás, com uma busca rápida você vê que é comum falar que “majored” em algo sem necessariamente ter se formado.

Tá mais claro? As minúncias do que realmente significa um major e como equivaler isso no contexto acadêmico brasileiro são indiferentes na questão. O ponto de contenção de alguns críticos do post é que pra dizer que “majored” em alguma coisa precisa SIM ser formado (o que é objetivamente errado), mas o que eu estou tentando dizer é que ela estava alegando duas coisas fundamentalmente irreconciliáveis nas duas páginas.

Que é, como eu falei, um prenúncio do resto do currículo dela.

Tá mais claro? O propósito não era “provar” que ela não era formada (isso é literalmente impossível, metodologicamente falando), e sim, explicar de onde surgiu minha desconfiança no resto dos relatos dela.

[ Adendo ] O usuário Guilherme Verri (@gvrri) foi além e fez o que eu deveria ter feito: entrou em contato com o MIT diretamente, e conseguiu confirmação oficial, inegável, de que a Bel Pesce se formou em dois cursos na universidade: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, e Management Science.

(Além de me dar uma comida de rabo por não ter verificado isso mais afundo e insinuado que a garota não tinha formação alguma — o que não era meu ponto, mas a crítica dele tem mérito)

Eu incluiria aqui imagem que ele me mandou da carta oficial do MIT afirmando isso, mas temo que possa ser considerado doxxing pelo Medium.

Conclusão: ela tem dois diploma. Não cinco. Sendo dois diploma do MIT uma incrível realização, não entendo por que esse palavreado vago pra insinuar ter mais canudos.

Em seguida, voltei minha atenção à Lemon, uma (finada) empresa de planejamento financeiro que a mídia brasileira reportou que Pesce teria fundado. A página de Economia do UOL diz explicitamente que a brasileira fundou a Lemon, adicionando o floreio poético de que a empresa “nasceu das idéias dela”. A IstoÉ confirma que a autoria da Lemon é de Pesce, dizendo que a moça “montou sua própria empresa”. Nesta outra matéria, o UOL dá crédito de fundadora da empresa à Pesce (além de martelar novamente as supostas 5 formações da garota, num exemplo prático da máxima da “mentira contada mil vezes que se torna verdade”).

A fonte disso, evidentemente, são afirmações da própria Pesce — visto que nada no registro histórico da empresa confirma isso. De acordo com a Wikipédia, o fundador da compania é um empresário chamado Wences Casares.

A propósito, Casares deu em 2012 ao The Next Web esta entevista falando sobre a adição de Bel Pesce ao time. Por que um outro maluco estaria apresentando a suposta fundadora da parada como “uma adição ao time”, eu não sei. Ela não é citada como co-criadora ou nada assim.

Literalmente todas as matérias escritas sobre a Lemon que falam sobre um fundador (que não sejam brasileiras, e portanto usando como fonte a própria Bel) identificam Casares como tal. Aí estão algumas:

http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/blog/techflash/2015/08/lifelock-lemon-founder-locked-in-dueling-lawsuits.html

http://www.coindesk.com/lemon-wallet-acquired-lifelock-42-6m/

http://mashable.com/2013/12/12/lifelock-acquires-lemon/#YLeyy1Qj4mqf

http://www.recode.net/2014/3/13/11624538/lemon-digital-wallet-founder-wences-casares-gets-20-million-in

https://aerolab.co/lemon

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/money/2013/12/20/son-sheep-ranchers-lemon-wallet-co-founder-wences-casares-is-serial/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucerogers/2012/08/23/will-wences-casaress-lemon-com-replace-your-wallet/#697a181d43cc

É claro e inegável — A única pessoa alegando que Bel Pesce fundou a Lemon é Bel Pesce. Curiosamente, ela jamais corrigiu os repórteres que atribuiram a empresa a ela (de onde você acha que veio a versão em que ela é a criadora da parada, afinal de contas…?).

Ela trabalhou na empresa, sim, mas exagerou os detalhes de sua atuação, o que é bem similar ao exagero dos quatro ou cinco ou seis diplomas.

Veremos que isso é um padrão no currículo da “empreendedora”.

Antes da Lemon, a Bel já era conhecida como uma história de sucesso por “ter trabalhado no Google, Microsoft, e Deutsche Bank”.

Exceto que ela não “trabalhou no Google, Microsoft e Deutsche Bank” da forma que vem em mente quando lê esse currículo, e essa ilusão é mais uma vez intencional. No seu LinkedIn, ela é atipicamente franca — na verdade, ela fez apenas curtos estágios facilitados por um programa do MIT que envia estudantes pra trabalhar em grandes empresas. A realidade é que não há nada de muito glamuroso nesses estágios — os estudantes geralmente executam afazeres triviais ao redor do escritório e participam em modo “read only” (ou seja, só observando, sem muito input ou autonomia) de alguns projetos paralelos das empresas. Basicamente, pra ver como é que é trabalhar no Vale do Silício.

Diga-se de passagem, o MIT manda aluno a rodo pra ser escraviário em empresa de tecnologia. Não é algo particularmente excepcional ou prestigioso. Vários destes estágios sequer são remunerados.

Somando todo o tempo que ela passou nessas três empresas, dá pouco mais de um ano — 4 meses no Google, 4 no Deutsche Bank, e outros 8 na Microsoft (embora neste vídeo ela diga que só passou 3 meses lá…?). E, novamente, o registro histórico não confirma suas alegações de que ela participou de projetos das empresas.

Por exemplo. No LinkedIn, Pesce diz sobre sua atuação na Microsoft:

[Bel Pesce] was part of a project to develop software that uses a webcam to track users’ actions. The main goal was to create a Multi-Touch interface that would let people interact with computers by only using a webcam and colored objects. The project also included a Software Developer Kit (SDK) that would allow other users to create their own Multi-Touch applications. Bel was part of the day-to-day of the project, documented the SDK, produced a demo to show the power of the SDK, recorded walkthrough videos to teach how to use the SDK.

Só tem um probleminha. Aqui está a lista de coordenadores e desenvolvedores do projeto. Aqui há uma página onde o grupo responsável pelo Touchless presta agradecimentos a membros da comunidade que também os ajudaram. Repare a distinta ausência do nome da Menina do Vale nas duas.

[ ADENDO ] Aparentemente às pressas, o responsável pela página adicionou ONTEM uma referência à Bel:

É estranho que uma página intocada desde 2008 seja atualizada horas pra citar a Bel poucas horas após a publicação desse texto. Não parece ter enganado ninguém, no entanto, se julgarmos pelos comentários da página:

E este é o vídeo da apresentação do SDK do Touchless:

A empreendedora brasileira também não se faz presente nessa apresentação. O que é muitíssimo provável é que em sua curta curta passagem na Microsoft, ela fez nada além de auxiliar o grupo em tarefas triviais de escritório — ou seja: coisa de estagiário mesmo.

Isso não a impediu de, aos 24 minutos deste vídeo, se caraterizar como líder/organizadora do projeto. Michael Wasserman, o real idealizador do Touchless, talvez não gostaria de saber que uma autora brasileira de livro de auto-ajuda está tomando crédito por sua invenção.

Quando fala de seus dois meses no Google, Bel diz que…

Developed a tool that help find bottlenecks in the machine translation code. The tool puts together CPU, RAM and disk usage information, along with periodic code profiles.

Mas que “tool” foi essa? Cadê o nome da ferramenta? Por que omiti-lo…? E a documentação? Referência em algum lugar qualquer? Confirmação externa de seu envolvimento com tal ferramenta?

Não existe.

Em sua outra passagem pela Microsoft, ela atribui a si mesma…

Development of software for Smartphones
Fully experienced Program Manager, Developer and Tester roles during the project:
Program Manager: organize the project as a whole — write specifications, negotiate features, drive meetings, research technologies, design project website
Developer: Write clean and efficient code, making use of the newest technologies to improve coding solutions
Tester: Create smart test cases and debug the software

Que software ela desenvolveu pra smartphones? Estagiária program manager? Como assim? Aliás, é curioso que esta prolífica programadora e “fully experienced program manager” não tem uma página no github, ou uma linha de código sequer atribuída a ela. Como alguém frequentou uma das maiores faculdades de tecnologia e se formou em Ciência da Computação sem ter literalmente UMA LINHA DE CÓDIGO PUBLICADA chega a ser fantástico.

Já na Ooyala, uma plataforma de vídeo online que ninguém nunca ouviu falar na vida, ela teria “liderado três times de engenheiros”. Aliás a citação é perniciosamente recorrente:

Eu te desafio aqui e agora a achar QUALQUER menção da moça trabalhando na Ooyala, qualquer documentação, e liderando os tais “três times de engenheiros” que não seja um texto citando isso como seus atributos de palestrante. Vai lá.

Ela só diz que fez e aconteceu, e a mídia acreditou sem pestanejar. Além de aumentar sua contribuição em projetos, essa é a outra marca registrada de Bel Pesce — a estranha ingenuidade que a mídia brasileira tem perante suas alegações facilmente refutáveis.

Além dessas conhecidas empresas em que Bel Pesce teve uma brilhante participação [citation needed], a inovadora também iniciou inúmeras empresas próprias. Quando eu digo “inúmeras” é literalmente porque não consigo enumera-las; quando mais eu pesquisava, mais empresas supostamente criadas pela Bel Pesce apareciam. A garota é uma boneca russa de empreendimento, você abre uma e tem outra empresa dentro.

Por exemplo. Neste artigo, aparentemente escrito por algum tipo de fanboy da garota, aparece a menção do Talenj, uma empresa co-fundada e comandada pela Bel. O site descreve o Talenj como “a company that makes and designs websites”. No Twitter, ela diz que a proposta da Talenj era “conectar consumidores a marcas por meio de competições“. A UNICAMP descreveu o Talenj como uma empresa que “promove aprendizagem por meio de desafios on lines“.

É quase como se ninguém soubesse que porra afinal é o tal Talenj, né?

Hoje eu farei algo que ninguém da mídia fez: vou te mostrar o que é realmente o Talenj.

É disso aí que a garota é CEO. Ou nem isso, já que de acordo com a política de privacidade da “empresa”, o responsável pelo site é um tal de “Alex”.

Voltando ao LinkedIn da moça, vemos que ela foi responsável pelo “business development” de um tal de Krowder.com. A página é defunta, e até o Wayback Machine tem dificuldade de catar seus elementos. Por que ela estaria clamando atuação com título glamuroso numa “empresa” morta, que ninguém jamais ouviu falar, supostamente num estado onde a Bel Pesce nunca morou?

Acho que podemos imaginar.

Ela é também a CEO e fundadora do WhatIf, um site com design que eu esperaria de um adolescente em 1999 e não de uma graduada em ciência da computação pelo MIT. Novamente — página quebrada, defunta, sem qualquer referência a ela como fundadora, e que muito evidentemente não rendeu um centavo qualquer.

Entre 2007 e 2008, Bel também diz ser a CEO e co-fundadora do “WaterAfrica”, engajada no “Development of a solar-powered piping system that enables better water distribution in Africa“.

Achei duas WaterAfrica na internet inteira. Uma foi fundada em 2006 por alguém chamado Bill Savage, e a outra existe desde 2001. Lembre-se disso da próxima vez que um fanboy da empreendedora disser que a menina “gastou tanto de seu tempo com ONGs beneficentes”, como foi o caso nos comentários do meu vídeo. Talvez ele ache que ela DE FATO fundou tais empresas, quando a realidade é que eram devaneios esparsos de uma garota imaginativa.

Isso não a impediu de dar entrevistas detalhando o funcionamento da WaterAfrica, como vemos aqui:

Bel bolou um sistema de tubulações desmontável, que funcionava à base de energia solar, para distribuir água potável dentro de vilarejos de Moçambique.
– Nós criamos o sistema, mas ele era instalado durante o dia e à noite era roubado — lamenta.

O mesmo artigo diz que Bel foi chamada pra trabalhar na Pixar PELO PRÓPRIO JOHN LASSETER, adicionando que…

John Lasseter, CEO da empresa, chegou a criar um cargo exclusivo na companhia para contratá-la, mas uma proposta “melhor” do Google a desviou do sonho.

Recusou um “cargo exclusivo” na Pixar porque preferiu um estágio no Google.

Eu tô suspeitando que isso aqui é o caso clássico da pessoa que contou tanta lorota que começa a se perder. Esse papo de “proposta melhor” do Google faria sentido se ela estivesse sendo oferecida uma posição efetivada, que é justamente o que ela inicialmente insinuava ter lá.

Quando mais tarde deixou escapar o retcon de que era na verdade um estágio de 2 meses, recusar um cargo exclusivo na Pixar para de fazer qualquer sentido.

No mesmo artigo, Bel (que, lembrem-se, era estagiária — um fato que ela mesma deixou escapar aqui e ali ao longo dos meses) alega que…

Na Microsoft, onde criava aplicativos para smartphones, recebia mimos de todos os tipos para permanecer na empresa. Ingressos para cinema e espetáculos na Broadway, jantares nos melhores restaurantes, tratamento de estrela que, garante, não influenciou nas suas escolhas.

Uma summer intern (ou seja, uma estagiária que só fica lá durante o período de férias de verão da faculdade) recebendo mimos de uma empresa pra continuar lá, como se fosse um contratado figurão roubado de uma empresa adversária por uma proposta milionária.

Não existe nenhum universo regido pelas leis da física como conhecemos em que isso teria sido verdade.

Eu paro pra pensar que esse texto seria bem menor e mais fácil de escrever se a Bel não tivesse inventado TANTA história.

Eis a minha hipótese. O mérito real da Bel resume-se a ser aceita e formar-se no MIT. Lá ela tentou entrar na indústria da tecnologia, e aparentemente não obteve muito êxito, porque tudo que ela conseguiu fazer foi estágios curtos e sites mal-acabados sem muito propósito ou sequer usuários. A empresa que ela supostamente fundou foi vendida por US$ 42 milhões e a menina não recebeu um centavo sequer, aparentemente não manteve equidade na empresa, nadica de nada.

Com o visto de estudante expirando e nenhum prospecto trabalhístico concreto que a permitisse estender sua estadia na gringa (em um vídeo que agora não encontro, ela deixa esse detalhe escapar, chegando a brincar que cogitou casar com um americano pra permanecer nos EUA), o jeito foi voltar ao Brasil. Foi aí que ela decidiu reinventar a “Bel Pesce que se formou numa das mais prestigiosas instituições de ensino tecnológico do mundo e que não conseguiu transformar esse diploma em NADA rentável e sequer permanecer nos EUA” pra “Bel Pesce prodígio com cinco formações, quarenta startups de sucesso, posições prestitiosas no Google e na Microsoft, autora de inúmeros produtos e serviços”.

Não importa quão absurda seja a sua lorota — alguém vai cair nela. Tem gente que acredita no Inri Cristo, afinal de contas. Eu não esperava é que a porra do nosso jornalismo nacional (mesmo tão sedento por histórias de brasileiros vencedores) deixasse a peteca cair tão lamentavelmente, repetindo feito papagaio o suposto sucesso da mulher, inquestionavelmente dando respaldo a “empresas” como a Talenj, sem excercer o mínimo de ceticismo responsável, e assim sendo cúmplice em seu processo de finalmente abrir uma empresa de verdade:

Uma empresa que ensina os outros a fundarem as próprias empresas — com cursos ministrados por alguém que nunca fundou uma própria empresa.

Uma ouroboros do empreendimento. Um loop recursivo de “inovação”. E como não falta trouxa nesse mundo, um moto-perpétuo de dinheiro.

Se a história parece inacreditável, se a despeito de todas as provas que você mesmo pode verificar você ainda acha que a mulher DEVE ser tudo que alega ser “porque apareceu na TV, saiu na IstoÉ…”, eu tenho que te informar que você é muito novinho, ou tem memória curta. Não é a primeira vez que um suposto intelectual com mais títulos universitário do que a maioria das pessoas tem bonés foi à TV relatar seus feitos fabulosos, salpicando suas abobrinhas travestidas de sabedoria. Lembram do Omar Khayyám?

Diga-se de passagem, esse negócio de empreendedorismo de palco lembra muito o esoterismo de rituais religiosos. O culto de personalidade em volta dos”líderes” dos quais não se pode falar mal, lendas passadas de boca a boca sobre seus feitos magnânimos, essa histeria de SIGA SEU SONHO REALIZE SEU POTENCIAL… agora tem até videoclipe chifrim semi-gospel declamando as virtudes do estilo de vida empreendedor:

Que negócio brega do caralho. Troque uma ou duas palavras e você pode passar esse vídeo numa reunião de Herbalife ou em culto evangélico.

Esquecemos do Luiz Almeida Marins Filho, outra estrela do circuito de palestras motivacionais, com passagens por liderança de empresas gringas e inúmeras formações (até DOUTOR ele era!) — até o dia em que alguém olhou a fundo e descobriu que boa parte do currículo era aumentado. Já esquecemos do Bernard Madoff, um dos maiores charlatões que o mundo já viu, que abusou de sua influência no mundo finnaceiro pra fraudar investidores por mais de 18 BILHÕES de dólares?

Há uns cinco anos atrás, certamente alguém que tentasse alertar um amigo admirador do Madoff ouviria um “afff mano, ele é bilionário, tá lá em Wall Street e o caralho, apareceu em mil matérias sobre empreendimento, você acha que sabe mais que ele?” Hoje Madoff, que atende por “Prisioneiro #61727–054”, anseia pela data de sua liberação do chilindró: 14 de novembro de 2139 (sério, ele pegou 150 anos de cadeia. Os gringos não passam a mão na cabeça dos 171).

Algumas pessoas obtém reconhecimento (merecido ou não) e usam isso pra vender o ilusório. Parece exatamente ser o caso da Bel Pesce — foi aos EUA, frequentou uma instituição prestigiosa, passou (rapidamente) por várias empresas, apareceu em algumas matérias na gringa, o que a conferiu o verniz da legitimidade, e pronto: mesmo sem jamais ter empreendido na vida, faz pose e fala como especialista.

E pior, vende como especialista. Ela não fala muito sobre isso porque talvez ainda esteja explorando a validade do modelo de negócios, mas aparentemente a Bel planeja em breve iniciar franquias da FazINOVA, sua escolinha de empreendimento/auto-ajuda, prevendo tiers de investimento superior a cem mil reais.

Bel Pesce não tem literalmente conteúdo algum. Esta é a verdade inconveniente. Ela é basicamente um equivalente feminino do Tai “Here in my garage in Beverly Hills” Lopez: tem dinheiro, é supostamente um famoso empreendedor, já falou no TED também… mas todo mundo sabe que o cara é um charlatão do caralho, e ele é zoado abertamente por isso.

Ela tentou enturmar-se no Vale do Silício, mas nem a formação no MIT ajudou. Sem sucesso, voltou ao Brasil enaltecendo os próprios feitos na Meca Tecnológica tipo o Alfaiate Valente que anuncia “matei sete!”, omitindo que foram na verdade sete moscas — e como o protagonista da fábula, uma vez que a patuléia acreditou no homicídio séptuplo, manter a fama foi só uma questão de malandragem.

Seus livros são repletos de anedotas que, a julgar pelo sua característica de falta de compromisso com a verdade, tem o valor histórico das estorinhas do Sítio do Picapau Amarelo. Os conselhos de “empreendimento” não chegam nem a ser rebuscados como os dos outros autores de auto-ajuda venerados por piramideiros e outras amebas intelectuais. Eu te digo pra “acreditar nos seus sonhos” e “continuar perseverando” de graça.

As “empresas” atuais de Pesce citadas em suas biografias são a tal FazINOVA, que como mencionei é um cursinho de auto-ajuda que ela tem aspirações de transformar em franquia; a Enkla, uma editora que só publica livros dela, A “Figurinhas”, uma agência de publicidade que nem site tem, e oBeDream, com um site tão vago e piramidesco que eu te DESAFIO a me explicar do que se trata.

A moça não fez nem metade do que é atribuído a ela, e seus “empreendimentos” são transparentemente um veículo pra reafirmar sua habilidade de empreendedora. Empreendedorismo vindo do nada e servindo pra alimentar o próprio empreendedorismo: há algo quasetermodinamicamente errado com essa equação.

E nem precisei ir pro MIT pra perceber isso.

[ Mais um adendo ] Até “sócia do Bill Gates” constava nas descrições da moça, noto agora. Fico curioso de quem teria dito isso ao autor desse texto…

[ Ainda mais um adendo ] Meu santo padre ciço, eu AINDA estou recebendo comentários assim:

Eu literalmente não entendo a dificuldade de vocês de entender esse trecho do artigo. É bizarro, os comentários dessas pessoas me indicam que são gente inteligente, tirando esse lapso de lógica aí.

Eu jamais falei “é absurdo, incomum ou errado informar major/minor ao falar de sua educação acadêmica, ninguém faz isso, é praticamente ilegal de tão estúpido”.

Em momento ALGUM eu falo isso, mas tanta gente me empurram esse espantalho, incessantemente, que eu já tô ficando maluco tendo que explicar isso.

Vou explicar calmamente mais uma vez, espero que pela última — eu falei, acredito que bem claramente, que é ESTRANHO que a Bel Pesce informe só os majors e minors, SEM DIZER EXPLICITAMENTE QUAL É O DEGREE DELA.

Em NENHUM CONTEXTO PROFISSIONAL NORTE AMERICANO (e eu acho que sei bem disso, morando aqui há 13 anos e tal) você verá alguém falando que tem majors e minors SEM FALAR QUAL A SUA FORMAÇÃO. É estranho, soa esquisito, soa incompleto, e é bastante indicativo de gente que cursou, não se formou, mas quer insinuar que tem o cacife intelectual sobre a disciplina.

Essa sintaxe é típica de quem não se formou. O único uso comum desse tipo de linguagem é justamente nesse contexto: fingir ter mais mérito acadêmico do que realmente tem. Ao dizer que “majored” em alguma coisa, o cara que dropped out não está necessariamente mentido, mas está induzindo quem ouve a concluir que ele é formado.

Que é geralmente a intenção.

Eis um exemplo prático:

I have a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics from NYU with a major in Statistics and a minor in Software Engineering” = perfeitamente válido, embora detalhado ao ponto que poucos se interessam. Ninguém realmente se importa pro seu major, e DEFINITIVAMENTE não se importam com seu minor.

(A propósito, cabe aqui um parêntese: essas empresas gringas de tunagem de CV são um golpe que só arrancam grana dos ESLs (pra quem não sabe, “English as Second Language”, ou seja, imigrantes com eu e você) que não tem as manhas gramaticais/de redação, sinto muito te informar. Espero que você não tenha pago muito caro)

Por outro lado…

I have a major in Statistics and a minor in Software Engineering”, que é um análogo do que a Bel diz em sua biografia em inglês = qualquer entrevistador imediatamente perguntará “…huh, so, did you graduate? Did you drop out? What’s your degree actually in?

ENQUANTO ISSO, em português ela diz sem titubear “TENHO CINCO DIPLOMAS”. Minha desconfiança, que até aqui modéstia a parte esteve correta sobre a Bel, é que ela julgou que brasileiros seriam mais burros/ingênuos em relação a essas coisas e que “vai colar”.

Uma vez que ter X majors e Y minors ABSOLUTAMENTE NÃO SIGNIFICA TER X+Y DIPLOMAS, está flagrante a contradição, e foi essa contradição que me motivou a pesquisar profudamente. E na pesquisa, minha hipótese se confirmou: ela não tem 5 diplomas.

Não me façam ter que explicar essa merda de novo, especialmente porque 1) eu estava certo, ela não tem 5 diplomas, e este é o ponto e 2) é irrelevante perante os outros achados do post. Essa idiossincracia acadêmica não é o ponto central da história.

(Postei o texto neste tal de Medium porque meu site tá caindo desgraçadamente desde que o publiquei. Isso que dá não ter 5 diplomas do MIT e não saber configurar servidor. Meu site é www.hbdia.com, seja lá quando ele voltará ao ar, e estou sempre lá pelo Twitter como @izzynobre)

Next Story — Gene Wilder Was Right: Gilda Radner Didn’t Have To Die, And We Need To Talk About Why She Did
Currently Reading - Gene Wilder Was Right: Gilda Radner Didn’t Have To Die, And We Need To Talk About Why She Did

Veteran actor, comedian and writer Gene Wilder passed away this weekend after battling Alzheimer’s — unbeknownst to any of us. His family said in a statement that Wilder hadn’t wanted the public to know he had the disease; mostly that he didn’t want children to know. After all these years, he’s still immortalized for many, kiddos and grown-ups alike, for his titular role in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. Wilder was, even in recent years, frequently recognized by tots passing him by on the street. How could he not be with his striking corn-flower blue eyes that were a little wild, his electro-frizzy hair, his somewhat sad, worried face?

Wilder hadn’t wanted to frighten, or disappoint, “the countless young children that would smile or call out to him, ‘There’s Willy Wonka’” — which to me anyway, seems exactly like the kind of thing I’d expect Gene Wilder to do. Just what he always did, what he made a life, a career out of doing: tucking away his own grief, his own world of sadness, so that he could focus on making people laugh.

Perhaps the only time in Wilder’s life where his grief bled through, where it permeated every aspect of his life and turned the spotlight away from comedy and onto the often times devastating consequence of falling in love, was after the death of his third wife, beloved Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner. Wilder met Radner on the set of a film aptly titled Hanky Panky, (in her memoir entitled It’s Always Something, she wrote that he was “Funny and athletic and handsome, and he smelled good.”) They married a few years later in the south of France (“Because Gene loved France,”).

Radner was a comedian who (not unlike Wilder, not unlike the late Robin Williams) had intense internal struggles and deep grief that informed her talent for making people laugh; for making them happy. As a child and teenager, Radner struggled with her weight and had “every possible eating disorder from time [she] was nine-years-old.” When she was 12, her father was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that caused him to slowly deteriorate over the course of the next two years before he died, during which time he was completely bed-ridden and could not speak.

As she went off to college and eventually got her shot at stardom as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, the details of her eating disorder began to emerge via stories from cast mates, and Lynn Redgrave (who was bulimic as well) admitted that the two of them had discussed their disordered eating while sitting next to one another on a plane; reportedly the first time Radner had ever owned up about her condition to anyone.

Flash forward to 1985. She was 38-years-old and had been married to Wilder for a year. They wanted to have children, but she was struggling to conceive. In fact, she’d been struggling to conceive for at least a year before they were married, when she’d stopped using birth control entirely.

She had a procedure to assess the function of her fallopian tubes, which showed that she was infertile, and may have been a harbinger of what was to come. In her memoir, she recalls the look on the nurse’s face as they ran the test, thinking it odd that she looked so sullen: “What could be lovelier than Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder having a baby?” she wrote, “The hair alone would make people squeal with delight.”

She was offered the possibility of in vitro fertilization, an option that Wilder supported so long as the trial of it didn’t impact their marriage negatively, saying that “A baby was best off coming into the world to two people who were happy together.”

In recalling the consideration of in vitro, she talks about having an illegal abortion when she was 19-years-old (“that probably influenced the messy state of my reproductive organs”) an experience that returned to her as she tried to come to terms with the fact that she might never have a baby at all.

For me the issue became less whether I wanted a baby or not and more my inability to accept not being able to have one.”

She did a lot of research about IVF. She and Wilder went through the slog of preparation that many a couple does when they’re trying to conceive this way: the ultrasounds, the laparoscopies, the coming-into-a-cup. She describes the sequence in her memoir and one can’t help but feel incredibly worried by the image of Gene Wilder, with his big, sad eyes, trying to ejaculate into a cup next to a stack of Playboys in some nondescript, sterile closet-like hospital room at UCLA. When they had completed the entire cycle of IVF — and no pregnancy resulted — it was Wilder who said “never again.”

So, she instead elected to have her tubes opened surgically — a fairly risky procedure in the mid-80s, when this type of “microsurgical technology” was still relatively new. Once her tubes were opened, she was tasked with figuring out when she was ovulating so that they could be sure to have sex in that window to optimize her likelihood of conceiving. She got those little at-home ovulation kits (“Where you are the scientist,” she wrote) but didn’t tell Wilder. She recalled the fervor of one morning when she couldn’t get the cap off the test vial. Desperate, she raced into the bedroom, poked a still fast-asleep Wilder, and said, “Don’t ask me any questions, just take the lid off this vial.” He did, and he never asked her about it — having done so while still fast asleep.

You could say a lot of things about Gene Wilder, but you can’t say that he didn’t love the devil out of Gilda Radner.

My ovaries became the center of my universe,” she wrote, and it’s with an incredible sense of irony that we can think about this statement now. We know that, within five years from that image of exhaustedly buoyant Radner skidding to that bedside with a little ovulation kit, she would be dead from ovarian cancer. As many nights as she lay awake with anxiety about not being able to have a baby, that she worried about her “closed tubes” or the painful cycle of IVF, of whether or not her anxiety was driving her husband up the wall — she never would have suspected those little almond-sized organs, which she was trying to nurture into submission, would take her life.

It was during the filming of the third (and final) film she did with Wilder, in England, that she began experiencing some troubling symptoms: extreme fatigue, bloating, leg weakness. She’d also missed a period. Could it be that, because they had stopped focusing on having a baby and started focusing on the film, that she’d somehow gotten pregnant? She sent her dresser to the local pharmacy to get a couple of pregnancy tests. One, which she took right away (positive) and one that she would take home to do when she was with Wilder. That one was positive, too, and Wilder put the little blue stick in his pocket as they walked through their neighborhood.

“The weather was warm and we held on to each other and sang quietly while our brains darted through this new phase of our life. We like to sing the song “Ohio” in harmony when we are happy, mainly because I’ve got the harmony down for the whole song except for one line near the end. I never get it right and that always makes us laugh.”

A few weeks later, as she continued to feel not-so-great but chalking it up to early pregnancy, she began to bleed heavily on set. She assumed she was having a miscarriage and called her doctor, who told her to lie down and rest. She was supposed to shoot a scene in the afternoon where she would mostly be sitting. She told Wilder what was happening and they agreed that she might as well stay on set; they hadn’t told hardly a soul that she’d been pregnant, and they both agreed they needed work, and each other, to get through it.

She bled for two weeks, during which time she recalled also getting a rather terrible flu that had been going around the set. By the time filming wrapped up and they returned to Los Angeles, she was feeling run down, but assumed that everything she’d been through was just catching up with her.

One otherwise ordinary Sunday in 1986, she and Wilder were headed to a friend’s to play tennis when she suddenly fell asleep in the car, apropos of nothing. She wrote that it was like “being hypnotized into this deep sleep” and “like a fog rolling in over my brain.”

Wilder recalled the event too — the day in his mind when everything about their life began to unravel: “She said, ‘’I can’t keep my eyes open. I think I’m going to fall asleep.’’ She lay back and looked like she had taken a sleeping pill.”

By the time they arrived for their tennis match, she’d rallied. But she still made a doctor’s appointment. “There was nothing wrong with me,” she recalled them telling her — except that she had some elevated Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, as many people do. Epstein-Barr is the virus that causes mononucleosis, among other fairly common conditions. In the mid-to-late 1980s, Epstein-Barr was also a popular “garbage bag” diagnosis for all kinds of fatigue-related symptoms.

Her internist also suggested that her symptoms could be due to depression. He patted her on the back and told her to relax.

A week or so later, she began running a low-grade fever. She called her doctor who told her not to worry about it. The “weird life” as she called it continued. She would be fine for maybe ten days and then, “seemingly around my menstrual cycle, I would go into this severe fatigue and run a low grade fever, then I would be okay again.”

She recalled trying to do as much as possible on the days she felt well, because she knew that there would be a few days where she’d hardly be able to get out of bed. Then, just when she thought she’d spotted a pattern, it started to strike her seemingly of its own volition. By this time, if she hadn’t been before, she certainly was depressed about her health.

And who wouldn’t be?

But she did wonder what came first: the illness or the depression? Her doctor continued to suggest that she was just “emotional” and prone to worry — that the events of the preceding years, paired with her turning 40, were causing her to become depressed which, in his mind, was in turn causing her cache of symptoms.

That spring, she began having pelvic cramping on top of everything else. She went to her gynecologist who assured her that nothing was wrong; it was just “mittleschmerz”, the sensation some women can feel at the time of ovulation. “Now I had Epstein-Barr virus and mittleschmerz,” she wrote, “Fitting diseases for the Queen of Neurosis.”

She and Wilder made their annual trip to the south of France, where they had married, and she noticed that each afternoon she’d need to take a nap. She’d started taking a heap of vitamins, hoping to bolster her immune system, but to no avail. She was dizzy, tired, uncomfortable. She kept running low-grade fevers. Their last night in Paris she got so sick after dinner that Wilder had to call a cab to get them back to their hotel room. She chalked it up to nerves about flying home.

Over the next few months, the grinding fatigue continued as well as a seemingly never-ending plague of stomach and bowel problems. Her doctor said she was probably taking too many vitamins. She saw another doctor who thought her stomach problems were — surprise! — the result of her anxiety and depression.

Then she got a new symptom: aching, gnawing leg pain that started in her upper thighs and spread into her already weak legs. It began slowly, like a dripping, and then progressively got worse and worse. Her doctors told her to take a Tylenol.

Though at this point, there was one doctor who thought doing a pelvic sonogram would be useful, just to “rule out” anything serious. Like cancer. Her ovaries “weren’t exactly in the place where they were supposed to be,” but the doctor told her that wasn’t really a cause for concern. There was some “congestion” in her pelvis, but that didn’t seem too serious either.

“Everything is fine,” they told her, “There is nothing to worry about.”

She took Tylenol. She played tennis. For a while, she began to feel a little better. She wasn’t quite so tired, she wasn’t quite so worn down. But the leg pain got worse, and her doctor gave her a high-dose of anti-inflammatory medication which caused her to have terrible nausea and vomiting. So her doctor gave her medication to reduce the acid in her stomach so that she could take the anti-inflammatory medication.

All her tests were normal.

But she began to notice a gauntness in her face, and she seemed to be losing weight in her arms. She was losing weight everywhere, and too much. For a woman who had struggled with her weight, who had been bulimic even, to notice that she was getting too thin was quite a realization. The pain, the illness — it couldn’t have been in her head. Or could chronic pain, she wondered, make you lose weight?

She went to see a doctor in Boston who gave her an antidepressant. When she didn’t seem immediately placated, he asked her what she was so afraid of. “I am afraid that it is cancer,” she told him.

He told her to just keep having her blood drawn and to stay in touch with her doctor “so that you can set your mind at ease.”

She went home. She saw a new gynecologist. He did a pelvic exam and told her that she had some scar tissue, but everything else was normal. He told her that she could keep trying for a baby, if she wanted to.

She was sick, exhausted, on all kinds of medication — and frankly, recalled having no interest in sex whatsoever, given how lousy she felt every day, and how much pain she was in.

She tried acupuncture. Holistic medicine. She took supplements.

Still, the pain in her legs kept her up at night. She bloated so severely that she really did look pregnant — which must have been such a fantastically cruel reminder of what she had not been able to have.

Her doctor told her she was literally “full of shit” and gave her laxatives. She went back to her holistic practitioner and had a colonic. “I will never forget looking past my swollen stomach at the tube, and the only thing that floated by was a bean sprout,” she wrote, “Just a single bean sprout went by.”

October 20, 1986. Radner’s doctor calls with the results of her recent blood tests. Her liver function, he says, was irregular.

She asked him what that meant.

“It’s probably nothing,” he said, but he wanted her to come in anyway.

That night she didn’t sleep — “Gene held me, talked to me and finally got me to take something to sleep,” she wrote — and how many nights over the preceding months that she had been so sick had that scene played out in just the same way?

She was checked into the hospital the next day for more tests. “We’ll get to the bottom of this,” Wilder told her as they sat in her hospital room, waiting. Exhausted, the both of them.

A few days of tests came and went. By Friday, a doctor came into her hospital room where she and Wilder had been chatting, just watching television and waiting.

They told her they had found a malignancy. Cancer.

“Gilda cried,” Wilder recalled, “but then she turned to me and said, ‘’Thank God, finally someone believes me!’’

On Sunday morning, they operated.

When she woke up in recovery, Wilder was at her side. “They got it all, everything they could see,” he said. And he held her.

She got a fever. Then she got pneumonia. She was in intensive care for 5 long days. While she remembered little of what happened, Wilder later filled her in. Journalists were hounding the hospital trying to find out what had happened. He had to change her name on all the medical records, (“Lily Herman” was what he came up with — Lily, for what they had dreamt of naming a daughter, and Herman, for her father’s name).

Hospital staff eventually changed both of their names to “Lorna and Stanley Blake”, which became something of an inside joke between them and the nurses that cared for Radner over the next few weeks.

It was also during this time that she realized — after the surgery was already over — that she had been given a complete hysterectomy.

She would never have a baby.

She remained in the hospital and started chemotherapy. Incidentally, this brought about one of my favorite passages from her memoir, where she talks about how a nurse tried to calm her down and help her sleep at night without too many drugs:

Radner and Wilder, two people who had known such a deep pain that they could somehow transmute it into bringing joy into other’s lives, lay entangled in a hospital bed night after night, trying to find the tiniest bit of joy in the situation they’d found themselves in. In one another.

“I would cry as easily as I’d laugh,” Radner wrote of that time, and she spent a good deal of her days trying to come up with ways to make the nurses laugh, the doctors, her family and friends — and her husband.

Radner’s doctor told her she was lucky. There could be a cure. The chemo might mean the cancer would never come back. But the reality was no one, not Wilder, not Radner, not the doctors who misdiagnosed her, the doctors who treated her (kindly and unkindly) knew enough about ovarian cancer to help her. Wilder points this out in the now recirculating op-ed for PEOPLE where he talks about why he opened up about Radner’s struggle after her death.

For weeks after Gilda died, I was shouting at the walls. I kept thinking to myself, ‘’This doesn’t make sense.’’ The fact is, Gilda didn’t have to die. But I was ignorant, Gilda was ignorant — the doctors were ignorant.

With Wilder’s passing this week, we lost not just a phenomenal comedian, a beloved actor and artist, but a champion of a women’s health issue that is simply not talked about enough. After Radner’s death, when she was just 42-years-old, Wilder continued to advocate in her honor. He found out everything he could about ovarian cancer. He asked about how he could help — and then he used his fame, his resources, to do exactly that.

Wilder remarried and, when he died, had been happily married for 25 years. While he is so often remembered as being paired off with Gilda Radner, he was only married to her for 5 years. It’s easy to get wrapped up in their quirky, comical love affair — which was, at its best and brightest, a tale of two probably near insufferable goofs who fell in love and did something about it.

But it was the 25 years after Radner’s death, when Wilder sought to change the world for the better as a tribute to a woman he once loved, whose life was cut tragically short, that is the true testament to not just the love they had, but to the kind of man Wilder was. The legacy of not just laughs, but love, that he’ll leave behind.

“I wanted a perfect ending,” Radner wrote toward the end of her life, “Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”


Abby Norman is just another writer/asshat on Twitter. She’s currently writing a memoir for Nation Books and is represented by Tisse Takagi in NYC.

Next Story — Here’s The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read To Her Attacker
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Here’s The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read To Her Attacker

by Katie J.M. Baker

A former Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman was sentenced to six months in jail because a longer sentence would have “a severe impact on him,” according to a judge. At his sentencing last Thursday, his victim read him a letter describing the “severe impact” the assault had on her.

One night in January 2015, two Stanford University graduate students biking across campus spotted a freshman thrusting his body on top of an unconscious, half-naked woman behind a dumpster. This March, a California jury found the former student, 20-year-old Brock Allen Turner, guilty of three counts of sexual assault. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison. On Thursday, he was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation. The judge said he feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a champion swimmer who once aspired to compete in the Olympics — a point repeatedly brought up during the trial.

On Thursday, Turner’s victim addressed him directly, detailing the severe impact his actions had on her — from the night she learned she had been assaulted by a stranger while unconscious, to the grueling trial during which Turner’s attorneys argued that she had eagerly consented.

The woman, now 23, told BuzzFeed News she was disappointed with the “gentle” sentence and angry that Turner still denied sexually assaulting her.

“Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up,” she said. “I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”

She provided her statement, printed in full below, to BuzzFeed News.

Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

“And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times.”

It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

“I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name.”

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.

Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

“This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.”

He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. ​Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. 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.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.


This story was originally published at www.buzzfeed.com.

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