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#YesAllWomen, marriage, misogyny, abuse, The Washington Post, women's issues

Oh look, the Washington Post thinks that for women to protect themselves from being victims of violence and rape we should all get married or live with our biological fathers because hey, if we’d all just stop being such cock-teasing whores for one minute and stopped taking lovers and made honest women of ourselves, we’d never have to worry about feeling threatened and “uncomfortable” and all of this #YesAllWomen business could just go away. Coincidentally, once again placing blame on the women for being abused. I mean come on, if the b*tch wasn’t drunk and half-naked, the least she could have done was gotten married and stopped trying to be such an independent woman. That’s how she got herself abused and if she hasn’t gotten herself abused, the dumb broad probably got her kids abused because she decided to date again after leaving the crack-headed, wife beating, meth head she was married to.

It was written by two academics by the names of W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson, whose names aren’t the only thing out of the 19th century: the article looks at a bunch of statistics in regard to violence against women and children, and concludes that “the data show that #yesallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies.” 

Basically, once again, the world (more precisely the Washington Post) has lumped us all into 2 categories; whores and virgins and there is no room for gray, only black and white. The bottom line is that the Washington Post has at least two misogynistic writers who blame all women for being treated like second class citizens. Hell, maybe there’s even a secret woman haters club at the Washington Post that meets once a week and is lobbying for the acceptance of drowning baby girls because really, what the hell’s the point? Because apparently, some people think that men can procreate without women and our pesky uteri. Apart from cooking and cleaning in all of our bare footed glory, women serve no real purpose in the world other than to look pretty and be quiet, right? News flash, women are people too.

Yes, misogyny is alive and well at the Washington Post.

Men are allowed to do as they will and women are supposed to suck it up and just accept their fate. I mean WHY would any woman think that she has the right to happiness after divorce or at all, for that matter? It doesn’t matter whether the man was an abusive jerk who beat her on the regular and had started molesting their children, she is his property and she needs to just accept that and be alone and in fear for the rest of her life. If not, it’s going to be her fault when something bad happens and it will because women are like magnets for bad shit to happen so prepare your daughters.

#YesAllWomen, marriage, misogyny, abuse, The Washington Post, women's issues

Eff it, happiness is overrated anyways plus I hear only men can truly experience happiness, it has something to do with the happiness receptors being located right under the tip of their penis or wait, maybe it has something to do with being an asshole. I can’t remember. What do you expect, I was just some kid whose mother stayed with her husband and I was raised by my biological father but we all still got to experience our fair share of abuse. I guess we were just lucky.

When I was about 8, I begged my mom to leave because even at that young age, I knew that it was wrong. I knew that there had to be something more out there than just accepting your situation. I KNEW that she deserved better. That we all deserved better. But none of us got it. We all got to suffer in silence. Do I think that my life is better because of her sacrifice? NO! Do I think she is happier because of her sacrifice? NO! Did it save her from abuse, pain and humiliation? NO! This is the oldest story in the book. This is fear-mongering and it is about time we stop letting fear keep us quiet. It’s time to get mad; downright pissed off and to stand up against the misogynistic world we live in It all starts with one person willing to say no; to be the change. I’m saying no for all the women who couldn’t or haven’t. NO!

#YesAllWomen, marriage, misogyny, abuse, The Washington Post, women's issues, child abuse

Maybe life would have been better had my mom not been brainwashed into staying in her abusive marriage by a society that taught her that it was better to be miserable and have a husband, better to be abused and let your children get abused than to be alone. Thank God for a society who looks out so deeply for its women folk. No thanks, I’ll take my chances and try to decide for myself what’s best for me and my children. Unless you are living in the same dire situation that some women face every day by being abused and raped by their partners, you have no right to insist that she take it on the chin and just accept it.

Hey Washington Post until you’ve lived in the world with a vagina, why not stop skewing statistics to fit your agenda?

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tweens, teens, Teen Girls Rebel when Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, teen girls rebel, girls fight rape culture, #MeToo, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

You’ve heard of burn books? We all have. I remember in high school they were called slam books; same difference. Same jerky idea, different decade. Well, a group of high school boys at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Maryland are bringing it back. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the girls are refusing to stand for it. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the teen girls rebel. They will no longer stay quiet. Like teenage superheroes, these girls fight rape culture.

Teen boys rating girls on their looks is a practice as old as time. For as long as men have been objectifying women, girls have been getting rated by their looks in burn books, slam books, bathroom walls and in guy group texts. It’s a national pastime for men and boys. The undiscriminating discriminatory act of objectifying the part of the population born with girl parts. It’s sickening.

This time the list is in an iPhone Notes app. It included the names of 18 girls in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, ranked and rated on the basis of their looks, from 5.5 to 9.4, with decimal points to the hundredth place. There, with a number beside it.

A number rating system for girls like they’re cattle being rated for purchase. A group of male students created the list over a year ago and it’s been recirculated. Spreading like a plague through text messages and whispers during class. One male student saw the name of his friend, Nicky Schmidt, on the list and told her about it. Within 24 hours, most of the senior girls knew about the list. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the girls are not having it.

READ ALSO: The Problem with Little Boys

In the past, tween and teen girls would see the list, hang their head in shame and pray no one brought it up again. It’s shameful. It’s one thing to feel ugly ( as we all do in those awkward years) but it’s quite another to have everyone at school to see your national ugly average rating in notes, much less hear it whispered as you walk through the halls. The thing about these sorts of lists is that it shakes even the most confident young women to their core. Even if you’ve always thought you were pretty, these books have a way of crawling into your psyche and taking root; growing, twisting and digging in.

As someone who suffered from eating disorders and was never sure of herself, at least in the looks department, finding myself in a burn book would have made me feel so isolated, unsure and depressed. As a grown woman, it would make me rage because of two things, 1) I know I’m attractive enough 2) I don’t care what anyone else thinks about how I look or think or exist. But this is as a grown woman, it took years to have this confidence.

Yasmin Behbehani, a student at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, found herself ranked on this list after her friend, Nicky Schmidt, let her know about the list, as a heads up. But Behbehani didn’t want to know about this list. She was trying to stay in her lane; just trying to survive high school is hard enough without extracurricular  humiliation. She’d spent her entire high school tenure recovering from eating disorders and trying to avoid this kind of triggering comparison to her classmates but there is was in a text message with a screenshot of the list, typed out in the damn notes app.

These kinds of lists are not new. And they will never not exist. As long as boys are raised to objectify women with no real consequences they will continue to do so. But today is not yesterday, or last year, or the last decade. Today, we live in the world of #MeToo.

We are raising ours girls to not take this kind of treatment. Raising our girls to know there are more important things to be than beautiful and to speak up, no to scream, when we need to be heard. We’re empowering our little girls. We are not afraid of you any longer. You can’t demean us with your stupidity and objectification because we know we are more than our parts.

READ ALSO: Raising Girls to Survive Misogyny, Sexting and Slut Shaming

The girls of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School felt violated, objectified by classmates they thought were their friends. They felt uncomfortable getting up to go to the bathroom, worried that the boys were taking notes and editing their scores.Objectification feels horrible; judged at your very existence.

The things that no one counted on in this “boys will be boys” rape culture that we live in is that  there is power in numbers. Dozens of senior girls spoke to the school administration and to the boys, demanding not only disciplinary action in response to the list but a school-wide discussion about the toxic culture that allowed the list to happen in the first place. This resulted in one male student being given an in-school detention for one day. It wouldn’t even be on his record.

Not happy with the disciplinary action, Schmidt texted 15 friends and told them to tell all of their friends to show up at the school’s office the next day during lunch, “to tell them we feel unsafe in this environment and we are tired of this toxicity,” Schmidt wrote in her text. 40 senior girls showed up, packing into the assistant principal’s office where Schmidt read a statement she had written.

We want to know what the school is doing to ensure our safety and security,” Schmidt said. “We should be able to learn in an environment without the constant presence of objectification and misogyny.”

READ ALSO: The Reality of Being Born a Woman

The girls and administration agreed that to have a meeting with the male students in the program, including the assholes who created and circulated the list. On International Women’s Day, almost all of the students in the IB program — about 80 students — met in a large conference room for what was supposed to be a 45-minute meeting during fifth period. It lasted over 2.5 hours.

The girls shared personal stories and impassioned speeches about how the list made them feel. They shared their stories of sexual abuse, harassment and the lasting effects objectification has had on them. And something miraculous happened, the boys heard them. In fact, the boy who created the list stood up, took responsibility for the list and apologized for the hurt the list caused. I am so proud of the girls for uniting and standing up and demanding that their voices be heard. Silence is the enemy of equality.

The thing this isn’t new and the kid who made the list and the ones who passed it around are not the minority. The girls who spoke up and refused to be treated like this, they are the minority in our culture. We need to make doing the right thing easier and more common. It shouldn’t be this hard for women to be treated like humans. We shouldn’t have to fight for a basic human right like being treated like people and not objects.

What will we do next time we find out teen boys rated female classmates on looks? Where will we be when our teen girls rebel?

To be honest, since the #MeToo movement began, I have shared my own stories. I shared them before but I never realized that men don’t actually understand what it feels like to be a woman and be objectified. They have always been bigger, stronger and more privileged than women. They’ve always lived in a boys will be boys culture and they’ve watched, from the time they were little boys, the world apply different rules for women and girls. Boys assault women in so many ways and all they get is a slap on the wrist, even from women. But no more.

Since the day they were born, we’ve been raising our girls to respect themselves and to value no one’s opinion over their own. I’ve taught them that no means no and if they have to scream that, then do so. We’re raising our girls to be brave and determined. They know that they are as good as any man and in some instances, even better.

This generation of moms is raising an army of feminists ready to do battle for their human respect, equality and dignity. If you can’t get on board with that, that’s your problem. It’s happening. Be ready for it. Don’t stand in their way. This is their future and their worth is more than any ranking a man could ever give them.

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good girls, unicorns, raising daughters, women, sex

Dear Preston Waters,

I read your piece about good girls today being as illusive as the unicorn; non-existent. I hope you are wrong. I am a unicorn who is currently raising two unicorns (as you call them). I am teaching them to have respect for themselves and do what makes them happy in life. Life is too short to live by other people’s rules; especially when the rules are not clear and ever changing. Good girls are not extinct, maybe you are just too pompous and stupid to see them because you are so busy going for the easy piece of ass and then disregarding the girl who showed you charity.

I agree that we live in a world where more women are sexually asserting themselves. We live in a world of selfies and social media gone wild. People taking nude photos of themselves and uploading them to the internet or sexting them and having them end up in the wrong hands has become common place. The world has become so small that sometimes we forget that we are not alone with our computer, camera or phone. We forget that the Internet is vast and permanent. Forever. Talk about never being able to outgrow the sins of your youth.

good girls, unicorns, raising daughters, women, sex

Women have not lost all morals and respect for themselves, you are just more aware of their indiscretions thanks to social media. Men and women have been making mistakes since the beginning of time. We still have dignity, only now we also have the Internet and our every mistake can live on in infamy. What’s so wrong with a woman enjoying sex, anyways?

Mr. Waters you are complaining because men have finally gotten everything they ever wanted, women who are willing and able to have consensual sex with you on her terms. No more begging, no more bullying her into it; nope, now women realize that they can choose to embrace their own sexual appetites without being a whore. Still, your misogyny won’t let you accept your gift. We’ve finally broken free of the shackles of patriarchal approval. We finally care more about what we think about ourselves than what you think of us.

good girls, unicorns, raising daughters, women, sex

The story has not changed. Men have always liked the chase more than the actual prize. Women figured this out a long time ago. This is why I was a virgin until I was in college. You’ve always wanted the good girl who plays hard to get but is a complete freak in private. But you don’t want to believe that she has ever been with anyone else, ever. So, we’ve let you believe what you wanted.

“Then you have drugs, uppers being predominant, and many women are addicted to prescription pills to help their “anxiety.” In short, women have become easy, but they have also become broken — and eventually become undesirable because no one stays hot forever. Sure, we men are to blame for this as well, but that is because we are idiots.” Well, you got one thing right.

Mr. Waters, I don’t think that you would know a unicorn if it bit you in the ass. All women are born unicorns. If they are broken, it is life, full of it’s double standards,painful situations and callous men who treat women like whores that have broken them.

good girls, unicorns, raising daughters, women, sex

The problem Mr. Waters is not with the unicorns, it is with assholes like you who put women into categories; whores and virgins. We are more than what resides between our legs. Maybe you need to become a unicorn yourself if you want to attract a unicorn because unicorns don’t want to marry assholes; we prefer unicorns too.

Sincerely,

A Unicorn

good girls, unicorns, raising daughters, women, sex

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The Inconvenient Truth about Patrick Crusius, Guns and Racism in America, el Paso, Texas, gun control, mass shootings

I went to church this morning and I prayed for all of us. After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas by Patrick Crusius that left 20 murdered in cold blood and dozens injured, I was feeling hopeless and then intense anger. A wave of anger that I haven’t felt since Sandyhook. It’s rage. If you’re indifferent to this violence or you’re not enraged enough to be motivated to act, why? Help me to understand your silence. Why are guns and racism still plaguing our nation? This is the inconvenient truth about Patrick Crusius, guns and racism in America.

At mass, I prayed for the families of all the people murdered this week by mass shooters. Yes, there was one every single day this week. Day after day, I got an alert on my phone and every day, I prayed. I prayed for all of you, to keep you safe. But the time for just praying has passed. We need action to protect our children.

READ ALSO: The Children of Sandyhook

As much as I love my country and my God, he can’t do everything. We’ve got to do our part. This keeps happening because we let it. We value our guns over other people’s lives. We have a million excuses why we should keep our guns, rather than change our behavior and save the lives of innocent people. Change is uncomfortable but isn’t the sacrifice worth it? People are hanging on to their guns like they’re their security blankets. They’re not.

For years, I’ve been clear on my stance on guns. I don’t like them. I hate them. They are dangerous because people are dangerous. People cannot be trusted to behave like responsible adults. They can’t be trusted to respect their fellow humans. People may pull the trigger but bullets from guns are what kill people. Those who allow this to keep happening are culpable. End of story.

READ ALSO: The Collateral Damage of Hate

I grew up with guns. Guns are for hunting and protecting, not killing and maiming the people you don’t like. You’re not allowed to grab your gun, take your sick mind full of hatred and anger and shoot at will. That’s not how this is supposed to work.

The right to bear arms was established at a time when we needed people to take up arms to defend our country against the enemy when we had no regulated or established military. The right to bear arms was not put into law to be used as a scapegoat for every low life lacking self-esteem and hating the world. Every prejudiced person with no friends should not be allowed to amass large quantities of ammunition and guns to shoot innocent people. Yes, innocent people.

READ ALSO: Zero Tolerance for Immigrants is Zero Tolerance for Humanity

Because a person is not like you, does not make them a criminal. Shopping at Walmart is not a criminal act. Attending a music festival should not mean gambling with your life. Going to church should not make you a sitting target and dancing and celebrating at a bar, should not mean that you are relinquishing your right to life. Our military fights abroad to keep us safe and free at home, not so crazed gunman can viciously murder us from within.

The real Inconvenient Truth about Patrick Crusius, Guns and Racism in America

I’ve been clear on my stance for years and I’ve prolifically called for us all to stand up for gun control for our children. I know that guns will never be banned but we need stricter control over who can get those guns, how many they can have at a time, how much ammunition they can buy, how those guns can be modified and where, when and why they can be used. There need to be consequences for breaking those mandates and a psychological evaluation made mandatory for every single person who wants to purchase a gun, of any kind, even a hunting rifle.

I’ve never minced my words but today, I am speechless. I am angry. I am disgusted and prayers are simply not enough. Yes, I too believe that through God all things are possible. I believe in the power of prayer but I also, firmly and absolutely, believe that God helps those who help themselves. We need to help ourselves. We need to take responsibility for our children’s safety by standing up for the right things. I don’t think any parent ever, under any circumstances, would choose a gun over their own child’s life under any conditions.

READ ALSO: Dear America

I am disgusted by all of these acts of domestic terrorism. But last night, when I read Patrick Crusius alleged hate-filled, anti-immigration manifesto, my anger hit a new level. It turned to rage. It spoke of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners. Again, maybe this ignorant piece of racist garbage doesn’t know his history but Texas used to belong to Mexico. We were there first.

READ ALSO: What to do when Racism happens to your child

20 people were murdered on a Saturday morning and dozens injured for no other reason than Patrick Crusius was a small-minded, ignorant man, with a hate-filled heart who drove 10 hours to murder Mexicans. And he was able to do it because it’s so easy to get access to guns in the United States. A mother protecting her 2-month old son. Dead. An infant whose parents are left behind to live with the pain of the loss of a child. Dead. 18 more innocent people dead because this monster lives during a time where racism, bigotry and misogyny are not frowned upon but encouraged by our current state of affairs.

Patrick Crusius is only part of the problem. Guns and Racism in America are the disease.

How are we, any of us, but especially people of color supposed to feel safe when the color of our skin, our last names, the religion we follow is enough to make small men not only want to murder us but able to get a gun and do so?

We need good people, those who value all human life, who believe in freedom and equality in our country to stand up against the terrorists within our nation’s borders. Everyone is so focused on keeping the brown people out that you are locking us in with hate-fueled, narrow-minded, homegrown terrorists and giving them guns at will. How are any of us supposed to survive this?

 

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Lara Spencer, Prince George, Ballet, Fabrice Calmels, GMA

Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer went on national television and mocked Prince George for taking ballet classes. She openly burst into laughter at the thought of a little boy dancing ballet and I’m disgusted by her and her way of thinking. It’s outdated and misogynistic.

We live in a world where women and little girls are not treated equally to men and boys. It’s not my opinion, it’s a fact and if you are a woman or a little girl, you know this firsthand. It starts when we are born, in some countries.

In some countries, if you are born with a vagina, you might as well have been born missing a head because they find you useless. And in every single country, if you are born a girl, you are held to a different set of rules and made to feel like a belonging.

It always blows my mind when women don’t support women or worse still, support men who see women as less than. I feel there has to be some self-loathing percolating right beneath the surface. It downright blows my mind (and breaks my heart) when women are not the champions of feminism but a misogynist. I’m not even sure how that works. How do you reconcile yourself to being part of the problem?

Lara Spencer, you are part of the problem.

A grown woman laughing and mocking a little boy for taking ballet is everything that is wrong with the world. Lara Spencer, in my opinion, is as bad as an ignorant misogynistic man who calls little boy’s sissies. I’m not sure exactly what she found so funny that she couldn’t contain her laughter. Be careful Lara Spencer, your ignorance, uncouthness and misogyny are showing.

As a mom of ballerinas, who has spent a whole lot of years in the dance world, Lara Spencer’s outburst into laughter during the Good Morning America’s segment mocking Prince George for dancing ballet was one of the worst displays of ignorance that I’ve ever been witness to. Did I mention she was laughing at a little boy? How insensitive and ignorant can one adult woman be in the span of a minute?

Anyone in the ballet world can attest to the fact that there is a severe shortage of men in the ballet world. There are plenty of beautiful, graceful ballerinas ( who are, by the way, in my opinion, some of the most elite athletes that there are) but finding young boys and men to enter the ballet world is challenging for just this very reason. Boys are afraid of being mocked, bullied and teased for dancing by ignorant bullies not unlike Lara Spencer.

Everyone in the ballet world knows that real men lift women.

Boys who dance ballet are not “sissies”.  It’s not an insult to be talented and dance. Boys who dance ballet are elite athletes who defy gravity. Men who dance are gifted, strong mind and able-bodied individuals who spend their days surrounded by and working side-by-side with ballerinas; dancing and partnering to make beautiful art for the rest of us. What could possibly be wrong with that? What about that is laughable?

Dancers tell stories with only using their bodies. Their bodies are finetuned instruments that take years of training and dedication to achieve. For any child to be brave enough and have the passion and drive to begin that journey at such a young age ( my girls started dancing at 2 and started ballet at 7, dancing by the time they are 10, 5 days a week for hours on end) is impressive. They work so hard for so long and push their bodies and minds as far as they will go. Lara Spencer’s flippant attitude and insensitivity towards the ballet community is a reflection of her ignorance not the dance world.

Several coaches bring their football players in to take ballet classes to learn discipline and control, to finesse their own playing skills. Ballet makes you better in so many ways.

Real men wear tights.

Have you ever heard of Fabrice Calmels? He’s a French ballet dancer at the Joffrey. He’s 6 foot 6 inches. He is the tallest male dancer there is. He is an elite athlete who is at the top of his field. My daughters are tall. When they started to get disappointed because they got too tall to partner, Fabrice was their inspiration. He is a role model for many young dancers; boys and girls.

Photos: @FabriceCalmels Instagram

No matter if you have an appreciation for the ballet or not, you have to have true respect and admiration for the hard work, dedication, drive and talent it takes to dance ballet in a world full of cynics and grown women who laugh at little boys who dance ballet.

What do you think of Laura Spencer’s antics? Do you think an apology is enough? And is it really an apology if you’re only doing it because you’ve been called out by the public for being a jerk? I don’t think so.

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gender-based vioence, abuse, sexual violence, gender based violence, rape

gender-based violence, abuse, sexual violence, gender based violence, rape

Gender-Based Violence*Denial of care for women* The subjugation of women and deprivation of human rights and respect* Gender based violence is physical or emotional violence against women*Anything that doesn’t see the woman as a human being* Women are worth protecting and worth respecting* The old belief was that women are servants and used as procreation tools*

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time but gender-based violence was something that I needed to mull over and give my full attention; the topic is that important. It is about life and death. It is human compassion. The scariest part is that this topic is not just happening in some far off land or third world country. Gender-based violence is happening right here where you live; maybe it’s next door, the next street over or maybe it’s happening in your own house. It has to stop. No woman deserves this.

Gender-Based Violence is not what I want for my little girls

The gravest threat to a woman’s life is violence inflicted upon her simply because she is a woman. How can you even comprehend or justify this sort of violence? You can’t. Enough time of being beaten down for it and eventually a woman will begin to hate herself because being a woman makes her a target for unimaginable and unprovoked violence.

Women between the ages of 15 and 45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Often times, violent acts such as rape, female genital cutting, or extreme physical abuse are used to intimidate, humiliate and discredit women, denying them political weight in society and forcing them into silent, second-class citizenship. Beyond personal injury, gender-based violence also results in unwanted pregnancies, severe psychological trauma and an increase in maternal mortality.

Gender-based violence can take many different forms, and is constantly mutating into new forms, be it acid attacks, bride burnings, rape or domestic violence. Gender-based violence is often perpetrated by those closest to a woman; a family member, her partner or a friend; someone that she trusts. About one-third of all women globally face beatings in the home. In most countries, between 30 and 60 percent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or a boyfriend. 30-60 percent! That means it is very likely that someone that you already know has been a victim of gender-based violence. The statistics for female murder by male partners are also astounding: Up to 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their male partners, according to the World Health Organization.

In some countries, female genital mutilation is also a concern. Over 135 million girls and women have undergone genital mutilation and 2 million more girls are at risk each year. “Honor” killings, in which a woman’s relative murders her for disgracing the family, can also be a concern in parts of the world. Women are treated like property and inanimate objects. For some reason, there is the assumption that women are put on this earth to serve only the wants and needs of others. I have news for you, we are human with feelings and thoughts and being dismissed, used to satisfy man’s sexual appetite and abused hurts us at our very core. It undermines our very sense of self.

Many governments across the globe continue to turn a blind eye to this violence. To date, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not outlawed and more than 2.6 billion live in countries where rape within marriage is not considered a crime. Without legal retribution, assailants rarely face consequences for their actions and the victims are less likely to report the abuse. In many cases, women are concerned that they will be the ones punished if they report the violence. Other times, rape and sexual assault are so stigmatized that the victim stays silent even if there are laws in place. How can we in good conscious live in a world where victims of unspeakable acts are treated like the perpetrator?

Rape and these other abuses often work to keep women down. Women who have experienced such violence can suffer isolation and depression and have increased drug and alcohol dependency or even poor reproductive health. They may become unable to work or care for their families because they have become so broken from the abuse.

Gender-Based Violence Kills Hope

While laws are important to help combat gender-based violence, the main solution is to change the way people think. Two things lie behind gender-based violence: sexism and misogyny. And it’s not just the men: women too adhere to discriminatory social customs, and frequently are the ones to transmit to the next generation.  For instance, women are often the managers of brothels in poor countries or the ones who demand that their daughters’ genitals are cut. Women have been abused and treated so badly for so long that they have began to believe that they deserve the treatment, accept that the abuse is normal and even become perpetrators of the gender-based violence against other women.

It’s happening all over the world; in every country and every city, even in 2012 in the United States. Pay attention to the news; women’s rights and reproductive rights are being pushed and pulled and torn away from women by politicians who need to change their views. If our leaders view us as second-class citizens, how can we expect the rest of the men in our lives to be any different? The government makes the rules and sets the standards by which all others follow.

Since these attitudes are embedded in culture, they will only change with education. We need to help by acknowledging these harmful and sexist attitudes and traditions and refusing to accept them any longer. By not ignoring the issue we are helping quietly sanction this violence against women.

As women, we need to stand up and speak out. We need to demand that we are treated with the same respect as men. Just because we have a vagina that doesn’t make us weaker; that makes us stronger because we have always had to work harder to prove ourselves to society.  I am afraid what might happen if we don’t. Is the world you want to raise your daughter in? We need to change so that our daughters and granddaughters don’t grow up to know this devastation.

Half the Sky Movement is helping reverse this devastating trend by shining a light on these horrific acts of violence and inspiring victims to champion gender equality and safety. They are making a real difference in the world. You can see the PBS special and learn more on October 1 & 2.

We are humans* We are worth protecting* We are deserving of love and respect* We are the givers of life* We are more than just what lies between our legs*

Gender-based violence  is unacceptable

Disclaimer: This post (and my sharing on social media) was inspired by my participation in a compensated program initiated by Women Online/The Mission List to raise awareness about the Half the Sky. All commentary and opinions are, of course, my own.

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the Handmaid's Tale, Alabama, Abortion, Kay Ivey, America

Alabama state Republican Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed into law a controversial abortion bill that would punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison. Sound familiar? Sounds like something right out of the Handmaid’s Tale if you ask me.

“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature,” said Ivey.
The Alabama Senate passed the bill 25-6 late Tuesday night. The law only allows exceptions “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” Democrats re-introduced an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote.
Ivey noted in her statement that the new law may be unenforceable due to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states. But, the new law was passed with the aim of challenging that decision, Ivey said.

I love the United States. It is a country born out of asylum. My mother’s ancestors fled here seeking religious freedom. Her other ancestors were already here; our great nation’s original citizens, Native American.

READ ALSO: A Priest who Doesn’t Condemn Abortion

But that is not where my love ends, it’s the country the provided my father a place to come to make a better life; to rise above his circumstances. This is the same country that made it possible for my mother and father to meet and have 6 first generation Mexican-Americans. This is a country based on freedom and built on opportunity. We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. But do we? Do we have the basic human right of choice and domain over our own bodies?

It’s a beautiful dream. A nation built of people with arms open to welcome their fellow human beings seeking that same freedom, escaping persecution in their own nation, willing to leave behind all they know in search of something better for their children. What a beautiful dream it is. Only that’s all it is. The reality is opportunities are boundless if you can check all the boxes to meet the criteria.

READ ALSO: My Father the Immigrant

It’s not about open arms to help anyone. It’s about a master race, defaming anyone else who would dare to pursue that American dream. We grab them at our borders and punish them for even trying to take refuge in our nation’s bosom. For some reason, we don’t believe they should be afforded the same chance at freedom as our own ancestors were given.

But should we be surprised? For centuries now, we have withheld those rights from American citizens even born in this country. Those with the misfortune of being born anything other than Caucasian male, those citizens born female and even those who dare not to be Christian. I’m a Latina daughter of an immigrant, so I’m twice on the outside.

My life has consisted of straddling a very fine line of trying to blend in and not be seen and standing tall and speaking up for those of us who cannot do so for themselves. I’ve been speaking out and standing up a lot more than I used to need to.

READ ALSO: Will all the Politicians Kindly Back the Eff out of My Uterus

Women and minorities have always been treated less than. In fact, misogyny, racism and bigotry is something we had all developed an acceptable threshold for. We knew it was wrong and we hated it but, it was better than it used to be. Black people are no longer sold into slavery and women can own property and vote. This is all de jure, not always de facto.

Women are still treated like second class citizens with our government almost always with one hand in our uterus and well, black people may not be chained any longer but there is an epidemic of black men being shot dead in the street for no reason at all other than being born black. And apparently, all Mexicans are criminals. Our crime? Being brown?

We got the vote and then we got reproductive rights. Well, we weren’t given anything. We fought long and hard to be treated equal but it never really took so we live this emboldened half-life where we are brave and strong but only as much as society allows us to be. That was as good as it got for us.

READ ALSO: Women’s Reproductive Rights are not the Same as Animals

We almost had a female president. Almost. Now, we are in danger of losing our God-given human rights because the misogynists feel it’s more important to control our reproductive rights and enslave our sexuality than to have a president who misused her email privileges. Moms all over the United States are bulk buying Plan B so that they can ensure that their daughters have a choice to make when the time comes in 5/10/15 years. This is our America. We are going backward. Which begs the question, whose America is this? If it’s not mine or yours or hers, whose is it?

I feel like there is a cleansing being put in place by our administration.  I expect a purge and my smallpox blanket in the mail any day now. All I want for my children is what my dad wanted for his, what so many immigrants who built this country wanted… a land of opportunity. A haven in a world of shit. A place where hard work is rewarded.  A place where good people do good things and everyone is treated as a human being. A place where human respect, dignity and freedom are givens. A country where equality isn’t something that has to be fought for but is given because what makes one human life more valuable than another human being’s life?

READ ALSO: Let’s Build Something Beautiful for our Daughters

I want my daughters to be treated as human beings and not inanimate objects. Women are more than what lies between their legs and no one else has the right to control what we do with our bodies. I never quite understand where men get off trying to tell us what we can do with our bodies and what we can and can’t do.

Women are goddesses. Without us, there would be no men. We create the world you live in. We are not weak.  We are stronger than anyone has ever given us credit for. We grow and deliver children and it’s hard. Harder than anything any man has ever done. Who is anyone to tell us what we can and can’t do? Without us, there would be no you.

Stay woke ladies, the Handmaid’s tale is not just some dystopian novel.

It is fast becoming our reality. We need to stand up against the Kay Ivey s of the world before they destroy the country we love so much. Also, can I just say how disgusted I am that a woman would sign this bill?

 

 

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Michael Jackson, Leaving Neverland, pedophile

I’m going to be honest with you. I watched Leaving Neverland the HBO documentary alleging that Michael Jackson was a predatory pedophile with a penchant for young boys. It was shocking and disturbing to see it all laid out in the documentary. I feel torn. Not because I’m wishy-washy on how I feel about pedophiles. But I feel like my entire childhood was a lie.

Do I believe Michael Jackson was a pedophile who preyed on naïve young boys? Boys who admired him and their eager to please stage moms? I do. Not because this is new information. I believed it in 2005. I found it peculiar that a grown man, even an eccentric one who never had a childhood, would host children (that weren’t his own) in his bed. Even more peculiar was why their parents would allow it?

READ ALSO: Why Girls should be able to Exist without Men Behaving Badly

It never sat well with me either that he always seemed to have a young boy as his sidekick on his tours. It’s right there in black and white in the press; Michael Jackson walking hand in hand with some preteen boy who accompanied him on his yearlong tours. It was weird then and, as a mom now, it’s absolutely suspicious. I don’t care if it was God, you cannot sleep in the bed with my child.

The world had been conditioned to expect odd behavior from the socially awkward, musical genius known as Michael Jackson. The world turned a blind eye or maybe we just didn’t want to see it and we certainly didn’t want to believe it. The thought that such a seemingly sweet, childlike man could be a predator was beyond the fathomable. Why would a man who could have almost any man or woman he wanted in the world choose little boys?

I think we all wanted to believe that he felt a kinship with these boys. He was somehow living his missed childhood with them. Or maybe he too was a victim as a child? Isn’t that how many predators become predatory? Or maybe he was just born a pedophile? Michael Jackson will never be adequately punished for his crimes.

READ ALSO: Raising Teen Girls to Survive Misogyny, Sexting and Slut Shaming

However, if all that was said in Leaving Neverland is true Michael Jackson was the worst kind of monster because he used his celebrity to lure these families, his money and fame to blind them and the public’s opinion that he was a “good guy” to mask the monster within. If this is true, he was one of the most predatory and dangerous pedophiles to ever live because he was beyond reproach even when all the evidence said he was guilty.

Michael Jackson is dead and we will never have definitive proof of his guilt or innocence. We’ll never have the satisfaction of hearing his confession. From here on out, everything is hearsay. We only have the word of broken men who claim to have been his victims when they were boys. The stories are compelling and too similar to one another to be a coincidence. The damage is done.

READ ALSO: I just want to enjoy their childhood

Michael Jackson songs tick marked my childhood. No one ever wanted the allegations to be true because what we want and what we get are two very different things. We need to embrace the truth and disappointment. I’m having trouble reconciling what I believe to be true about Michael Jackson and my love of his music. As much as I loved the music of Michael Jackson, the thought of singing along with a pedophile who preyed on young boys turns my stomach.

Listening to Wade Robson and James Safechuck describe their sexual abuse in graphic detail made me cringey. Hearing the voicemails Michael Jackson left for these young boys, reading the faxes and knowing how he ingratiated himself into the trust of their families made me sick. He was a cunning predator. He groomed his victims. The intent behind his communications is obvious to us as outsiders. Michael Jackson’s larger than life fame afforded him allowances for his odd behavior. Alarms failed these families who were duped by his celebrity.

 More than anything, though, it was difficult to watch Robson and Safechuck clearly struggling with their conflicting feelings about Jackson in real time; they are both repulsed by him and appear to have some lingering reverence, a testament to Jackson grooming them to serve his perversions.

There is nothing we can do to punish Michael Jackson. There’s not much we can do to help his victims but hear their stories and recognize their pain. We can believe them. I can no longer willingly listen to Michael Jackson. I can’t even look at his image without being disgusted. Where I once saw an icon now all I can see is a predator of children.

Have you seen Leaving Neverland or Oprah Winfrey Presents After Neverland?

What are your thoughts?

 

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french beauty pageants, ban, toddlers and tiaras, misogyny, sexism, sexualization of children

French Government bans beauty pageants. Looks like I might be moving to France! Don’t fret. I’m raising girls and trying to raise them to value themselves on more than just what they look like and the size of their asses so a move may be inevitable. The French Senate voted early Wednesday to ban beauty pageants for children under 16 years old and to impose up to two years in prison and steep fines of up to $30,000 euros for adults who try to enter children into such a contest or run illegal/underground pageants. You all know how I despise toddlers in tiaras. Well, I hate the misogyny it represents.

One pageant owner, Le Parmentier, has already said that if the law is passed, he might move his pageant to Belgium but close to the French border, to accommodate French contestants who want to compete without having to worry about legal consequences. Come on. We’ve all seen those crazy pageant moms on Toddlers and Tiara’s, there’s not much they won’t do to pit their child against someone else’s. It’s like dogfights with pretty little girls made up like clowns.

french beauty pageants, ban, toddlers and tiaras, misogyny, sexism, sexualization of children

I’ve never been a fan of beauty pageants, especially for children. I understand competing as a teen for scholarships but there has to be more to it than just the way you look. Give me a nerd bowl any day. What are we trying to teach our little girls? There is nothing anyone can say to convince me that there is any reason ever to dress 4-year-olds up in spray tans, partial dental pieces, and more make-up than Tammy Faye Baker. They pluck their eyebrows and use breast inserts and then parade them around in $2500+ dresses and make them perform like dancing monkeys high on Mountain Dew and Pixie Stix all while their overweight moms yell at them because they themselves suck at life!

Honestly, if you give me the “it teaches them self-confidence” speech, I might have to smack you. How are you helping self-esteem by teaching them that they have to look a certain way, be held to a certain standard of beauty to even count? What I want to know is when is the U.S. going to follow suit? Way to keep women down.

french beauty pageants, ban, toddlers and tiaras, misogyny, sexism, sexualization of children

 The amendment is part of a broader bill on women’s rights, which will now proceed to the National Assembly, French Parliament’s lower house, for debate and another vote.

The senators who voted in favour of the measure argue that it will protect children from being prematurely “sexualised” through the use of heavy make-up and often-provocative attire.

The amendment was prompted by a a parliamentary report entitled “Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality”, which, in addition to calling for an end to the pageants, encouraged a ban on adult-style clothing for children, including padded bras and high-heeled shoes.

“Let us not make our girls believe from a very young age that their worth is based only on their appearance,” the author of the report, former sports minister and current senator Chantal Jouanno, said in an interview with free French daily “20 Minutes” last year.

Controversy surrounding the issue peaked in December 2010, when French Vogue published a photo spread featuring images of a 10-year-old French girl, Thylane Loubry Blondeau, decked out in a tight dress, jewellery, high heels and make-up. Not surprising the photos sparked international outrage. Not unlike the Jours après lune lingerie campaign for little girls. WTF?

The magazine argued that the photos were meant to capture a classic fantasy of young girls – to dress up like their mother. That only holds water if their mothers were seductresses or worked in the sex industry. Which reminds me, yesterday I caught an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras (purely for research) in which the parents financed their pageant addiction with the money they earned from their stripper-to-your-home business. Well, it was Vegas so I guess it is to be expected. Of course, I thought it was in very poor taste to have the strippers, half-naked, cheering from the audience. I guess the bright side is at least they weren’t completely naked.

french beauty pageants, ban, toddlers and tiaras, misogyny, sexism, sexualization of children

If the bill is signed into law, as expected, pageants like the annual “Mini-Miss” contest in Paris will no longer take place. Now, if we can just get the same thing to happen here in the United States. Maybe we should make a law about parents not being allowed to live vicariously through their children? That should solve it all.

Needless to say the pageant Queens of the world and their crazy mothers won’t go down without a fight, expect lots of Tammy Faye Baker make-up, tulle and 14-foot trophies and hair to match coming at you in protest. Me, I hope beauty pageants go the way of the dinosaur. Extinct.

Moms, stop sexualizing your little girls and making it easy for the pedophiles. No toddler needs to be on stage wearing a skimpy two-piece bikini, pouting her lips and shaking her little ass. Stop encouraging her. Stop teaching her that to be of value she has to be beautiful and little kid beautiful is not good enough, she has to look like a grown woman. We wonder why teens are getting pregnant and having sex at younger ages, maybe it’s because they are being taught to be sexy when they are 2 by their own parents. Little girls are being taken, raped and murdered at an alarming rate, don’t give pedophiles an invitation to oogle your little girl. Protect your daughters.

french beauty pageants, ban, toddlers and tiaras, misogyny, sexism, sexualization of children

If we don’t stop this toddlers and tiaras madness, this is the next stop.

french beauty pageants, ban, toddlers and tiaras, misogyny, sexism, sexualization of children, Miley Cyrus, Wrecking Ball

What do you think of little girls in beauty pageants? Is it harmless fun or early sexualization of our little girls?

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Emily Doe, victim statement, Brock Turner, Stanford, swimmer, rape, rapist, kid, roared, roar, tantrums, mommy moment, bad parenting

On January 17, 2015, former Stanford University student, Brock Turner, raped an inebriated 22-year-old woman, Emily Doe, behind a garbage dumpster after a frat party. There was no remorse on the part of Mr. Turner for raping someone, only the remorse of being caught. We are all Emily Doe. This could have happened to any of us. It has happened to many of us (to one degree or another) and it will happen to many more of us, if we don’t fight to change it. In fact, it will happen to your daughter, and your granddaughters and all those daughters that come after that.

The attack was only stopped when two Swedish PhD students, Carl Fredrik-Arndt and Peter Jonsson, were cycling past on their way to a party. When the two heroes saw that Turner was on top of an unconscious woman, they stopped, tackled Turner and pinned him down until police could arrive and arrest him. They didn’t have to stop, in fact, most people wouldn’t have stopped they would have gone on about their business.

Because let’s be honest, most people don’t want to be bothered by the inconvenience. It’s so much easier not to get involved. So people pretend they don’t see it happening; the frightened woman on the subway with the stranger’s hand on her ass, the drunk girl at the party being carried off to another room by a group of guys or even the businesswoman walking down the street being harassed by catcalls by men so far beneath her station that the closest thing they’ll ever get to talking to her is yelling sexually lewd epithets at her.

This March, Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and last Thursday Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but instead was only sentenced to six months in a county jail and probation. He must also complete a sex offender management program and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.   This is a slap on the wrist and an insult to his victim. Apparently, membership in the club of white penis has its privileges. I’ve seen worse punishments bestowed on POC simply for being of color.

I’ve been avoiding the news the last few days because I wanted to enjoy my time with my family. After last week’s fiasco, I know to truly enjoy my life and time with my family I have to unplug. Then I stumbled across Facebook and I saw the photo of Brock Turner as the clean-cut good kid. Then I saw the actual mug shot and honestly, what does it matter what a rapist looks like? If you rape a woman you are a rapist. How well you dress or clean shaven you are, doesn’t make it okay or make you less of a rapist.

Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

I’m sitting on vacation, reading the transcript of Emily Doe’s impact statement. As I listen to my little girl’s playing and giggling in the background, I am pushing down the lump in my throat and it is taking everything in my body not to start sobbing right here in the pool room at the Hyatt Regency. I didn’t realize that I’d be triggered but I was. Rape culture is alive and well and is not going anywhere soon. If anything, it’s growing momentum.

I want to cry for the victim; for what she has had to endure and her revictimization by a system that has failed her. I want to cry for my daughters who will one day soon be at college, alone without me to protect them from the evils of the world. I want to cry for every young woman who has ever gone doe-eyed and naively into the world and not expected to be victimized; myself included.

The judge was lenient on Brock Turner because he was an athlete, had a promising future and could possibly have even gone to the Olympics; made all of us Americans proud in the fucking 100-meter dash or some fucking shit like that. He got six months for ruining this woman’s life because in the world we live in, women’s lives don’t matter. We might have “equal rights” but really we will never be considered as valuable as men. He could have been an Olympian, what is she? Just another drunk girl at a party; or so Brock Turner, his father and the judge would have you believe. Just a poor dumb girl, who drank too much and had some drinker’s remorse the next day.

I used to be that girl. No, actually I was what Brock Turner and his attorneys would have you believe his victim was so I was actually much worse. I used to drink a lot in college. I would black out on occasion. I went to frat parties and I loved to flirt. I was the touchy-feely girl who loved attention and liked to have fun but I was a virgin until I was in college. Sure, I had boyfriends and there was dry humping, marathon make-out sessions and all that other shit you do when you just haven’t done the deed yet but I never consented to more. I wouldn’t because I hadn’t and I didn’t want to yet.

But there were times when I was drinking and guys got a little too aggressive in their advances. I remember once I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Then there was the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

Or the time I was working at a retail chain as a teenager and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (plus I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

The thing is as I read the victim’s account of what had happened to her, I was saddened and more than anything I was fuming mad. I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men a hall pass for rape and attempted rape and acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime; it is the curse of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it, apparently even in 2016. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my girls to ever feel this kind of vulnerability or fear of living. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time.

Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time. Apparently, that is all a woman’s life is worth. Her life is ruined; she will never be the same but it doesn’t really matter because a penis holds more value in this world than a vagina ever could. After all, we only propagate the species. He could have been an Olympian; she was always just a woman.

Emily Doe, Victim statement, swimmer,Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

The scary thing is Brock Turner is not an anomaly. And it doesn’t matter what we do, how we dress, how much we do or don’t drink, we can all be the victim and this is what scares me the most. When are we going to teach our sons that it’s not okay to put their hands, fingers, mouths and dicks on women’s bodies without permission? When will our girls ever be able to feel safe to walk alone at night or have a vagina?

In case you don’t think rape is a serious crime that warrants more than a six-month inconvenience for the attacker, read the statement below from Brock Turner’s victim.

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 [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][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.

After the victim’s statement went viral, Turner’s dad, Dan Turner, issued a statement defending his son, arguing his life will be “deeply altered” by the court’s verdict. I know this man is speaking out as a father but really, the callousness with which he disregards the consequences his son’s actions have had on his victim sickens me. He pretends that his son has done nothing wrong worth jail time and has no regard whatsoever for how his child has ruined this woman’s life.

“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” he wrote.

“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Mr. Turner says his son, Brock Turner, should not be sent to jail.

“The fact that he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact people and organizations,” he wrote.

“What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violence to anyone, including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015.”

Mr. Turner then suggested his son could become a role model for young people. I get that he is the kid’s dad but there comes a time when you need to support your child by loving them while at the same time making them understand that there are consequences to bad behavior and raping a woman is bad behavior. It is unforgivable behavior.

“Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

“By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.”

It’s like this man doesn’t think his son has done anything really wrong. I know he’s a father who loves his son and love is blind, especially where our children are concerned but this man is in absolute denial.

What do you think is a fitting punishment for Brock Turner’s choice to rape a woman?

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