From A World to Win News Service

Rape at Stanford University and the Rest of the World

June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


June 2, 2016. A World to Win News Service. A star athlete at Stanford University—one of the world’s most prestigious universities, often associated with the most advanced technology (the Silicon Valley) in the most “socially advanced” state (California) in a country that considers itself the world’s most advanced and “exceptional” nation—has been given a paltry penalty for rape, probably three months actual jail time. Rape and the threat of rape is universal to the condition of women as a subordinated sex on this planet, but what made this case unusual was not the location.

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For once, there were witnesses, and they had difficult-to-disregard credibility. Brock Turner was caught in the act by two male students, who stopped him as he was thrusting his pelvis on a half-naked motionless body in the shadows outside a fraternity party. Secondly, the woman survived, had strong family and other support, even within the court system, and persisted in demanding justice. When her attacker refused to apologize, she went through with the trial knowing that she would be revictimised publicly in the courtroom, with the most intimate details of her life paraded before the media that labelled her an “unconscious intoxicated woman”, derided by the perpetrator’s lawyer and much of public opinion as the real guilty party for drinking while having a vagina. Thirdly, for once, her attacker was convicted of three felonies, carrying a potential 14-year sentence.

The victim’s searing account, read in court on the day of the sentencing, has since gone viral with 16 million hits on Buzzfeed alone (see full statement). It ends with an appeal to women who have been through the same trauma to stand strong and fight against the debasement that rape does to women. Acknowledging the worldwide support she has received, she says, “I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity. But it is also as a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to. I am coming out to you as a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me. For now, I am every woman.”

This is far from the world’s first case where privileged males have demanded impunity (and been largely granted it) for acting out what they and official society see as their entitlement toward women. The “Los Porkeys” case in Vera Cruz, Mexico, where four young men abducted and raped a former schoolmate, has become notorious for the authorities’ reluctance to press charges despite a video confession by these sons of wealthy and politically powerful fathers. But what makes the Stanford case particularly shocking is that despite the conviction, the judge still decided, and argued blatantly in his public decision, that the perpetrator should not be given a punishment that would have “a severe impact” on his life. The impact on the woman’s life didn’t even enter into the equation.

The forms of the oppression of women may differ from country to country, but how different is the Stanford rape case, in essence, from the 2012 gang rape and fatal beating of a young student on a New Delhi bus, or the kidnapping of the Chibok girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria?

How different is the attitude of the rapist, who still insists that being drunk excuses his act? How different are the values upheld by his father, who in a letter to the court belittled the rape as “20 minutes of action” that should not lead to spoiling a son’s promising future for the sake of “political correctness” toward women? He must have fully expected that much of his society from top to bottom would find this argument convincing. How different is the action taken by the judge? Worst of all, he probably thought his decision would be uncontroversial.

What the U.S. justice system did in this case was simply to restate official approval for men’s sense of entitlement to subordinate and humiliate women physically and mentally that is part of the oppressive patriarchal culture rampant everywhere in a world dominated by an imperialist economic, political and social system and the values and culture that go along with the oppressive relations it is founded upon.



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