By now you’ve probably read the powerful letter that’s most recently been circulating on social media and news sites. If you haven’t done so you can here:
There has been a huge outcry over this situation everywhere you turn. I have been silent on the matter so far because of the overwhelming sentiment of anger and sadness expressed surrounding the issue, and I agreed with this sentiment and so felt I had nothing necessary to add.
That changed when I read this:
I had a hard time taking this in and reading it just on its face. Then I stepped back and viewed the whole situation again, and one thing stuck out in my mind.
Why on earth is this still a discussion? We shouldn’t have to talk about this anymore. Rape is Rape. Rape is horrendous. Rape is wrong.
The severity (or lack thereof) of his sentence has been so hotly debated and pushed, however this is such a minor issue compared to the rest of things that I won’t touch it. Instead I am going to, much like the young woman of the story addressed the rapist in reference to what he and his lawyer had said, address what is chronicled in the Huffington Post article.
From the letter a childhood friend, Leslie Rasmussen, penned to the judge presiding over the case:
She expressed her sentiment that the rapist couldn’t have possibly done what he did because he was “always the sweetest to everyone” in high school.
Being nice and having a “huge, loving smile” doesn’t mean you can’t commit a horrific crime. It’s actually quite common to see shooters and killers described this way after finding out they are guilty of those crimes. Past disposition doesn’t mean someone can’t do something atrocious.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol increases emotions and feelings”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that rape is rape (although these days I’m beginning to wonder.) This is irrelevant.
“I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him”
He was (luckily) caught in the act by multiple witnesses who were so distraught they could barely speak through their tears. She made a decision to press charges because he made a decision to rape her. Yeah, it is unfair. Unfair to her. He made the decision to rip apart both of their lives while she was unconscious and had no decision making power.
“Where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists”
Actually that’s kind of the whole point of rape. Rape is committed by rapists. There’s no such thing as “light rape.” It’s all rape. By definition, if you’ve committed rape you are a rapist. This has nothing to do with being “politically correct.”
“They encourage drinking … you are throwing barely 20-somethings into these camp-like university environments, supporting partying, and then your mind is blown when things out of hand”
Drinking =/= rape. Partying =/= rape. None of these things excuse these actions.
“This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot”
Yeah, actually it’s pretty much exactly the same. Except she wasn’t walking to her car (well, I suppose she could have been, but that’s unlikely.)
“These are not rapists. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgment.”
Nope. A rapist is someone who rapes another person. By definition he is a rapist. Again, drinking and clouded judgment are irrelevant to this fact. They may contribute to the decision to become a rapist, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it is still rape. Notice I use the word “fact” because these are actual facts, unlike you saying that you “know for a fact” that he is innocent.
“I would not be writing this letter if I had an [sic] doubt in my mind that he is innocent.”
I could have no doubt in my mind that the moon is hot pink but that would not make it so.
Furthermore, I find it difficult to swallow that you refuse to acknowledge the situation just because you don’t want to think of a friend that way. If one of your friends had been raped by a stranger I’d wager you’d feel differently.
“I think this is all a huge misunderstanding”
Yes you clearly misunderstand the entire situation and the word rape. And apparently many other people do as well.
Including the actual rapist himself because he apparently refuses to admit that he did anything wrong other than make a mistake by drinking too much. And his parents who are still supporting him and saying he shouldn’t be penalized. (Which is disturbing. As parents, you’d think they’d understand even more the need to keep someone’s child safe.)
So let’s clear things up once and for all.
If there is no explicit consent given, it is rape. If there isn’t the possibility to have enough clarity to give explicit consent (i.e. drunk, high, unconscious, dead), it is rape. If both parties aren’t in agreement, it is rape.
If you rape someone you are a rapist. If you rape someone you are completely responsible. Alcohol is not responsible. Parties are not responsible. THE VICTIM IS NOT RESPONSIBLE. Alcohol isn’t a rapist. Parties aren’t rapists. Victims aren’t rapists. Rapists are rapists.
Now that we have this out of the way let’s turn to our treatment of rape.
Rape is horrific and violent and inexcusable. Rape is life changing for everyone involved. When we discuss a rape we shouldn’t demean the victim. We shouldn’t reduce the victim to an object, ignoring all the details that tell us who they are as a person. They shouldn’t be faceless. They deserve more.
We shouldn’t excuse the rapist. We shouldn’t use their accomplishments to somehow make their actions seem better. If they are caught in the act, if they are convicted, we shouldn’t protest that fact based on previous character.
When talking about Hitler no one says “Hitler: dictator, racist, responsible for the attempted extermination of an entire race. But he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize so it’s probably not true and even if it is he’s just not as guilty because he did some good things before.” So why are we doing this now?
Why does a person’s race, social status, athleticism, wealth, etc. somehow change our view of their crimes? Why is any of this a factor? If elitism is a problem that influences things like rape how can we expect to address these issues in any other part of society?
This isn’t an isolated case by any means and I’m glad it’s getting the attention it is.
Now, can all this craziness end and can we start defining and treating rape correctly? We can only hope.