When the internet exploded with anger over Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky's excessively light sentence after Brock Turner was convicted on three felony accounts of sexual assault that took place on the Stanford University campus, I wasn't surprised that my female friends flooded my Facebook feed with shares of , talking about how her life had been upended. I am friends with a diverse range of women, from feminist-activists to those who are self-described as "middle of the road," and I saw that there was a wide cross-section of women who have been angered enough to speak out.
I've been devouring everything written on this topic, and one article that stands out is Rachel Sklar's piece on the , as it's so smart and on-point. But it was when she discussed Dan Turner's feeble attempt at creating empathy for his steak-loving son, dismissing his child's violent act that has forever altered the victim's life as "20 minutes of action" that really stuck out for me:
"The elder Turner's statement also went viral–but any exhortations to read every word were made in outrage and during the aforementioned head explosions. It wasn't the first time we (the collective "we" of activists, media watchers, and women wary of this happening to them and their friends) had been presented with a jaw-droppingly appalling and egregious example of rape culture, but this one hit the nerve."
The "collective we of activists, media watchers, and women wary of this happening to them and their friends" certainly includes men in some capacity, perhaps tangentially. But for me, I was truly (happily!) surprised to see so many men in my life publicly express their outrage. These men shared the victim's statement, shared the meme stating that the only thing a drunk girl should expect is a hangover, and posted calls to action to end rape culture.
I grew up in New Jersey and played rugby in college, so I've pretty much been steeped in bro my whole life. In college, the women's team spent a lot of time partying with the men's team. These are guys who pretty much exemplify the hard-drinking, hard-playing stereotype. I would have thought these men would have remained silent on Facebook, thinking Brock Tuner's was a non-issue. After all, these are the the guys that, outwardly at least, most closely resemble Brock Turner. Instead, they have publicly called for other men to understand that this isn't just a women's issue.
My Facebook friends (and, dare I say, many men) are more like , the Swedish grad students who saw Brock raping an unconscious woman and tackled him as he ran away. These are the guys who understand that being a man doesn't involve taking what you want, when you want it. And though that attitude still exists among some (as was apparent by the disgusting and recently deleted Facebook page ), the silver lining of this case is that it reminds me that women have some pretty awesome men in this world who are just as pissed as we are. And I only hope that this will snowball, and that my male friends' words will encourage their male friends to also speak out.
This gives me great hope for the future, and for the children who my male friends are raising. Through their words and actions, they are bringing up the next generation of men and women to understand that rape is not okay, is not to be explained away by "party culture" or "promiscuity" and that sexual assault is an issue to be taken seriously by everyone.