Brock Turner walking out of his arraignment in February 2015, when he pled not guilty to all five felony counts (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily).

On Brock Turner: Rape and Power

This is an op-ed by a survivor

TW: rape, stalking

“Rape isn’t about sex; it’s about power.”

At this moment in time, that phrase feels wholly uncontroversial. Everyone and their fraternity brother seems to be sharing the victim impact statement given by the woman Brock Turner assaulted. My Facebook is filled with outpourings of support for the victim and hatred for Turner.

And yet. This shit still fucking happens. At Stanford, bastion of privilege, liberal oasis.

I run into rapists on campus with regularity. I’m not saying this lightly. I run into people who I know have raped my friends. Or stalked my friends, or harassed them. Some of them are bros, some are nerds. All of them look completely normal.

The best is when anti-rape, pro-consent rhetoric comes from the mouth of violent people. The FoHo ran a piece the other day condemning Turner. It’s funny, because the founder of the FoHo (not gonna name names, but we all know who he is) has purposely made me uncomfortable by violating my boundaries in the past. And he’s done this to other women too. It’s not a secret.

It’s funny when fraternities and sports teams roll out to Take Back the Night, when I know rapists in their ranks. It’s funny when my friends think Brock Turner is a piece of shit, but Kobe Bryant is God’s gift to basketball. It’s so, so fucking funny that men get their panties in a twist over “false rape accusations,” when survivors know that when we accuse, the sound of our voice dies almost the moment it leaves our lips.

Times are changing, they say. These days, when you say “I was raped,” people believe you. But they never believe you when you say “He raped me.”

Rape is about power, it’s true. But it’s only half about the power to hurt another person. It’s also about the power go on with your life afterward–to be a tech entrepreneur, a varsity athlete, president of your fraternity, an A student, a “great guy”–while the person you hurt has to pick up the pieces of their shattered life.

To the men reading this: Congrats, you cleared the low bar. You shared an article on Facebook. Now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Check your friends. Call them out when they disbelieve rape victims; ask them, “What incentive would she/he have to lie?” Call them out when they make women uncomfortable. Brock Turner’s victim–and all survivors–have done their part in speaking out. You have the power, and it’s time for you to do your part as well.

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Originally published at on June 5, 2016.

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