(Trigger Warning – Rape)
Unless you live on Mars, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Stanford Rapist, Brock Turner, and his bogus jail sentence of 6 months. And if you’re a sensible person (which I know you are if you’re reading this), then I know you’re outraged. Which you should be. This case is the epitome of white, male, upper class privilege. It outlines the total disgrace that is our court system and their handling of rape cases. It explains why most victims don’t even bother speaking up. But let me tell you something you may not realize. When you share that witty meme jabbing Turner with his smiling yearbook face in the background, you’re actually not helping.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will know that I was a victim of rape. And similar to this case, my rapist was the stereotypical jock. An all star athlete, and popular kid, no one even believed me when I talked about it. Now, 14 years later, thanks to the technology that is facebook, the occasional photo of him will pop up in my newsfeed. Tagged in the friend of a friends picture from a party for instance. And every time it happens it’s like being punched in the chest. I struggle to catch my breath; my heart rate quickens; my palms become clammy. The idea of seeing him happy makes my blood boil and extremely anxious at the same time. And I feel the same way EVERY. TIME. I scroll past Turner’s prim and proper yearbook photo.
When we close our eyes and envision a “rapist” what comes to mind? I think back to what I might say before my assault. A creepy older man, dressed all in black, hood covering his face in shadow. But that’s not the typical rapist. They are the boys next door, the star athletes, the Brock Turners. Turner is not the smiling boy in his yearbook photo. He’s not even the smug looking man in his court photos. He is a monster. And sharing those photos don’t portray his pure evil. So I beg of you, as someone who has felt this real pain before, continue to share your petitions for justice and your articles giving exposure to the issues. But please, please, PLEASE stop sharing that smiling yearbook photo.
Oh and trigger warnings are appreciated too.