When news of the abhorrent Stanford rape case broke last week it was natural to recoil in disgust at the brutal details of it all. The idea that a young woman could be violated and victimised in such a blatant way was almost unfathomable. What surprised me was what was to come after the initial story broke and how the media seemed fixated on providing a space for the assailant to justify his actions to the world. The entire rhetoric seemed to shift to a place where the victim was being forced to defend her actions within her own sexual assault. All of sudden people were digging into her past and focusing their lines of questioning on why she allowed herself to get to that state and therefore was it all actually her own fault in the end?! The double standards of it all utterly appalled me.
The entire idea of male entitlement and a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude has further come to the forefront since a letter to the judge presiding over this case was released by the father of the accused. The sentiment of the entire piece focused on what was described as a lifetime of unwarranted suspicion and labelling as predatory figure due to ’20 minutes of action’ – yes can you believe it, that was the terminology used for this hideous incident. It seemed that the main concern of this man was that this one ‘unfortunate’ occurrence would ruin the life of his son without actually addressing the hideous nature of the crime itself.
Negative behavioural patterns associated with fraternities were sighted in which a culture of drinking and drug taking were identified as the contributing factor as this act was attempted to be explained and justified. At no point has this young man ever taken responsibility for his actions, for the indignity he caused his victim as she was poked and prodded after the attack; of attempting to place the onus of the blame on her for being intoxicated and therefore placing herself in a vulnerable state. At no point did this young man even attempt to apologise to anyone, let alone to the victim for his deplorable actions. Instead, himself and his supporters have chosen to tow the line of downplaying the incident to something which is not even worthy of being referred to as a crime.
Has society really come to the point where sexual violence against women is now seen as something to be written off as a minor offence in the scheme of things? The systemic acceptance of such behaviours and attitudes in which the main priority is to protect the man and cry foul play on the part of such Jezebellian women is beyond the absurd. The truth is this young man committed a crime which indignantly robbed another human being of the dignity that is associated with basic human rights.
Whether or not his potential Olympic career has been snuffed out because of the press this case has received is irrelevant, he’s lost this opportunity because of his actions. He intentionally made the decision to prey on someone in a vulnerable position; he is a sex offender and should be registered as such. On the flip side of things, no one is paying any attention to the far reaching effects and consequences that this assault will forever impose on the victim. Her quality of life has been vastly diminished in which a loss of confidence, of dignity and of most importantly her own self respect has been robbed from her in the most monstrous way. She will forever be haunted by the crime of another and be publicly followed by society’s judgments around whether or not ‘decency’ or lack thereof contributed to her trauma. The saddest part of all is that she’ll always wonder whether it was in fact her fault all along and whether she was somehow asking for it…. what a sad, unequal and double standardised world we live in.