campus emergency phone

It’s a plotline I’ve watched play out countless times on crime shows—a prestigious university, a star athlete, an unconscious female victim. This time, though, the story is far from fiction. This past Thursday former Stanford big shot swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster after a party. Justice is served? Not quite. What might have been a historic win for rape victims soon became a loss when Turner was sentenced to a mere six months in jail.

The sentence came after the victim had read a statement to the court, in which she directly addressed Brock Turner and condemned his crimes. She detailed in what soon became a viral statement the impact that the rape had on her life, and how it continues to affect her nearly a year later: “I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt… 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.”

This powerful and moving statement had seemingly no effect on the judge’s sentencing, and evidently, on Brock Turner’s family. His father, Dan, spoke out, in a statement that was released yesterday, saying that his son should not receive a prison sentence for “20 minutes of action.” As hard as it is to imagine, he goes on: “I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him… Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.” This, right there, is rape culture.

Thank you, Dan Turner, for allowing us to remember the real tragedy in this whole case: Sure, a woman’s been assaulted… but now her assaulter can no longer enjoy a good ribeye steak.

Dan Turner, you are so, so dangerously wrong. Dan Turner has tried to normalize sexual assault and suggest instead it’s just common sex. Twenty minutes of action does not involve non-consensual sexual assault on an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Assault is never sex. I had thought that we had moved past this outdated narrative that used to surround rape culture—trying to equate sexual assault with everyday sex—but clearly we are far from it. Those “twenty minutes of action” will live with the victim and her family forever; those twenty minutes will last a lifetime.

But thank you, Dan Turner, for allowing us to remember the real tragedy in this whole case: Sure, a woman’s been assaulted… but now her assaulter can no longer enjoy a good ribeye steak.

As a college student, I have heard way too many times about campus rapes and am far too familiar with the excuses that come with them. Dan Turner, in trying to defend his son, has done something much more dangerous—he has perpetuated rape culture. He has argued that sexual assault is just normal behavior in college, and that it doesn’t deserve a punishment.

Alcohol is almost always involved with sexual assault on campus, and oftentimes, as it was in this case, it’s used as a scapegoat. Dan Turner says, “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.”

Alcohol is NEVER an excuse for rape or assault. If alcohol had really caused the assault, then every person at that Stanford party would have been guilty. Blaming alcohol for rape frees the rapist of all responsibility. The victim put it best in her statement: “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.”

The issue here is not alcohol. The issue here is not how college campuses need to fix a pervasive drinking culture. The issue here is sexual assault. As the victim said, “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.”

Despite what Dan Turner may think, Brock is not the victim of alcohol, Brock is not the victim at all. The real victim in this case will continue to cope with the aftermath of her attack for the rest of her life. And she’s right: We don’t need to rid a college campus of rum; we need to rid it of rape.