Friday, June 10, 2016

Remember This Name: Brock Allen Turner – The Stanford Rapist

Photo courtesy of Change.Org

My plan was to do an upbeat blog post for my turn at Broads of a Feather. Lord knows I’ve written a few emotional ones over the past few months. This time around I wanted to talk about the NYC trip I took with my oldest daughter. I guess that will have to wait until next time.

Over the course of the week, news of the sentencing outcome for the Stanford Rapist, Brock Allen Turner, came to the forefront of the news and you’d have to be living under a rock to miss it. Stories like this open old wounds for so many people who are the survivors of sexual assault. As members of a club we never wanted to be a part of, we are compelled to speak out against the injustices the victims of sexual assault endure.
In the case of the Stanford Rapist, Brock Allen Turner’s victim has been victimized again by the very system that is entrusted to bring justice to those who commit these ghastly and unforgivable crimes. You see, Brock Allen Turner is part of the Good Ol’ Boys’ Society. Instead of focusing on the fact that this deviant moved around the crowd at a campus party, attempting to force his groping hands and unwelcomed kisses on other female attendees (including the victim’s sister), who each sent him on his way, he managed to stumble upon the one female in the group who was unable to push off his advances due to being under the influence of alcohol, the judge, The Honorable Aaron Persky, decided to factor in Brock Allen Turner’s swim times and the impact the outcome would have on his promising future when he sentenced him to only six months in prison. Six months. Six fucking months on a crime that normally comes with a minimum sentence of fifteen years. I was speechless after reading about it. How could something like this happen? It’s 2016, for God’s sake! Have we not evolved at all?
And this wasn’t a simple case of He Said/She Said. Two male graduate students came upon the rape scene (Turner dragged her off behind a dumpster to violate her while she was unconscious) and had to give chase when Brock Allen Turner tried to run away. These two witnesses who had to describe, in full detail, what they witnessed and, still, Judge Persky gave that abominable six month sentence for three felony counts!!! Outrageous. Utterly outrageous. And then I came across the victim’s victim impact statement and I shed tears for a person I’ve never laid eyes upon. She eloquently conveyed her thoughts and feelings over her horrific experience and how it is effecting, not only her, but her family members and friends as well. On the day of Brock Allen Turner’s sentencing, she stood up in court and read her 7,000+ word statement and addressed the judge and her rapist. This young lady is not only a survivor, she is a warrior. Because of her speaking out, it brings more attention to the rabid rape culture many in our society still refuse to admit exists.
The face of a rapist. Brock Allen Turner's
mug shot.Photo courtesy of Stanford Dept.
 of Public Safety.

What made this story worse—and who thought it could get any worse?—Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner, also wrote a letter to the judge, begging for sentencing leniency for his son because, “His life will never be the one he dreamed about or worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” Twenty minutes of action?! Did he really say that? Was this really read aloud in court? With stellar parenting like that, is it any wonder why Brock Allen Turner preys upon unconscious women to sexually assault them? Well done, Dan! You’ve raised a monster who shares the same vile ideals as you do! A female is nothing more than a living, breathing fuck hole for you to do what you want with! What did you call it? Oh, that’s right! Getting some “action” while mixing in a generous portion of victim blaming. By saying what you did, you condoned his behavior. You feel that he was entitled to take what he wanted from a woman unable to even stay conscious while he savagely raped her.
And now an online fund raiser has been started for convicted rapist Brock Allen Turner to help his family with his legal fees. Are you fucking kidding me?! What is even more startling of a revelation? There will be assholes who contribute to this fund raiser.

Stanford law Professor Michele Landis Dauber has organized a campaign to recall The Honorable Judge Aaron Persky. If this story angers you, then add your name to the petition as well! Let’s remove this man from the bench so he can’t make any more abominable sentences that victimizes victims all over again. As of 3:13pm June 9th, 2016, the Change.Org campaign to recall Judge Persky has reached almost one million supporters. 
**Update 6:52pm June 9th** 
An online inmate record source has Brock Allen Turner entered into the system with a release date of September 2, 2016. Not only is his sentence cut in half, he never has to leave the local jail! How's that for entitlement most grand?    

Robin's Two Cents:

While I was at work tonight, Carol sent me a message telling me about her blogpost so that I could read it in draft and she gave me the opportunity to add my two cents to it. Or a nickel and a dime...

I'm angry.

The entire ordeal pisses me off.  Because, I too am a survivor of a sexual assault.

I can't believe I just typed that. I've never really even said those words out loud. In so many ways, my assault was minor and I've always felt that because it wasn't rape, that it didn't really count.  That my years of PTSD were over nothing. I didn't even really say as much when Carol did her When It Happened To Me post back in February.

But it wasn't nothing. It was something. And like the Stanford rape case, it was in the public. Even though it went unseen. I hope. Because if not, OMG! 

I had stopped at a local convenience store one afternoon when I was about 21, and as I was getting ready to pull away I spotted one of my uncles. So I stopped, I think I called out to him and he approached my car. It all happened so fast. I think he looked around the parking lot before reaching in my window, but I'm not sure.  All I know is that I thought my uncle, my father's brother, was reaching in to hug me...but no, he wasn't. He was groping my breasts.

"You know your Uncle Dickhead wouldn't do anything to hurt you, right?"

Those were his words to me when he was done.  I did the only thing I could think of at the time, full of shock, and that was to nod my head.  We parted ways after that.  I never saw him again as a matter of fact. This man who looked enough like my father that they could have been twins died about two months later. And I didn't even go to his funeral.

I can't even judge how long it took for the shock to wear off and the reality of it to hit me. I doubt the ladies at the library I visited minutes after this occurrence were able to tell that anything bad had happened to me. There was a part of my mind that was saying: 'No, you're in public. You can't break down now. You have to be normal. You don't want them to know what happened.'

When I got home, I told my mother what had happened. I was not discrete, everyone who was there at the time heard what had happened to me. The only thing I really remember about the conversation was a sister, who is a family-rape survivor, advised me that maybe there were some things we didn't need to talk about with the whole family. Why upset things? Or perhaps she was trying to save me from victim shaming. I don't really know.

But see, silence makes it easier for rape and assault and abuse to keep on happening. I later found out, that this uncle had a reputation for assaulting his nieces.  WTF???? Why wasn't this talked about? Why weren't we warned not to trust him????

Why was the only one who suggested that I call the police and press charges, someone who wasn't related to me? A nurse at the nursing home were I worked was the only one who suggested this, as I sobbed at the feet of an elderly woman I had been uncharacteristically cross with. I never did, and today - part of me regrets that. Part of me regrets letting that bastard die thinking that what he did to me was okay.

My heart goes out to the Stanford Rape Survivor. We all heal differently, at different speeds and different phases. I hope she isn't plagued for years with the fallout of her rape, even though I know better.

This is how I felt.. Shattered.
Only like I was bleeding internally.
Like I was bleeding everywhere.
Because of the silence, I internalized my anger and hatred and rage. Even though I was in counseling. I lost my job because it affected my work. I lost my next job because of the depression

I no longer felt safe. I always had to know where the doors were in restaurants, and I had to have my back against the wall...I needed to see what and who was coming at me and know where to bolt if I had to. I STILL do this, because part of me never feels like it needs to be on guard even if I 'feel' safe.

I could no longer be in a tight space, especially if there was a man also in that space with me - which  meant I could no longer serve in my church's communication center, because it was really just a cubby hole beneath the stairway

And once I started feeling claustrophobic and couldn't get myself out of the situation, that's when the anxiety would start. Not worry, sheer panic.

It's not as bad as it once was. But I still like to be in control of my situation. I like knowing what is going on in my work area, who is doing what.  Even though I don't feel threatened in any way by any of my coworkers, I still watch them from the corner of my eyes. Whenever someone walks through our area, my eye follows them.  I try not to panic when the carts full of product start getting too cluttered. I still lose my temper when I'm enclosed for too long and there's too many people

I hope the Stanford Rape Survivor's healing is different. I hope she shines in everything she does with her life. I hope she realizes that her life potential has not been diminished by what was done to her body.  I hope she realizes her value. I hope she has an amazing support group around her.

I hope her rapist rots. I hope her rapist's father rots. I hope her rapist's friend who also wrote a letter telling how 'respectful' of women he was - rots. Where they rot, I don't care. Just far away from The Survivor. I hope their friends turn on them. I hope work is uncomfortable. I hope the rapist can't even get a job and has to live at home with dad. I hope he chokes on steak and can never ever ever swim again.

I hope the men who stepped in and stopped the rapist are lauded forever as the heroes they are. I hope they are held up as examples of what men and women should do when they see a woman, a child, another man, in a situation where they are being harmed. Even if we forget their names like they want, may we never forget what they did. That they stood up for The Survivor when she couldn't stand for herself. That it didn't matter to them that she was drunk, that all they saw was a woman being harmed. May we also remember what they didn't do. There was no victim shaming. They didn't ask to take their turn at the "action".
Photo courtesy of  Healing Heart - Life After Rape

I hope Judge Aaron Persky - who is an alumnus of the same university as the rapist - looses his position.  I hope the petition Carol shared above is successful. That he looses the election.  Recalled. Anything to stop him from making this same horrible decision ever again. Brock the Rapist wasn't caught skipping school, or stealing a candy bar...he was caught raping a woman.  I hope the judge's family is kept safe though, it's not their fault.

If you haven't signed the petition Carol mentioned earlier, please do so now. As of 12:15am Friday morning, we are 3,866 signatures shy of making the goal.

That's all I have to say really. More than I intended, but still so inadequate.

Stop the madness.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Who Says Chick Books are Bad? by Robin Janney

Family can be harsh critics sometimes.

I have a brother, who discouraged our other brother about reading my novels.  Because it's a "chick book". Like it was something bad. And he said it in my presence.

It was embarrassing.  And honestly, I felt a little ashamed.  I've written a book that my brother feels that he can't read because it's a Romance.

The more I dwell on it, the angrier I become.

Why should I be ashamed? It's not the greatest book, but it's a good book. And while it is a Romance (which there's NOTHING wrong with that), it's also so much more.  Forgiveness is a major theme that runs through the entire series.  Forgiving oneself, forgiving those who've violated us...or not forgiving them. Mental illness is another theme.  Living in fear of it, living with it, battling it. Freedom from religion is another theme; each character is at a different place spiritually which causes some friction. There's also some Fantasy in the books.  I consider my demonic characters Fantasy characters as they are in no way 'biblical'. And many times, the Angels/Guardians take on the form of an animal of some kind...a dog, a horse, a cat. And there is the beloved Dragon Dream...ok, readers love it, the characters not so much. As the series goes on, the Dragon Dream becomes more and more real.

But even with all those layers, my brother says "Chick Book" like it's something bad.

So what if it is?

There's nothing wrong with Romance.

Boy meets girl (or whichever variation is relevant to your life), they fall in love, face adversity of some kind, overcome it and have a happy ending.

Which can be a welcome thing during those times when our lives is anything but a happy ending. It's probably fiction in general and Romance's harshest criticism...that it doesn't represent real life. Sooooo? Sometimes we need a break from the harshness of the real world.  We need a dose of hope. We need a chance to dream a little.

I'll admit that there were many years when I was single and unable to find Mr. Right that I had to put Romance novels aside. I never thought I'd find my Mr. Right and it hurt to read all those happy endings. Even sexless Christian Romances left a bad taste on my reading palate at the time.  But even in other works of fiction that I read, romance still had it's place. I mean, goodness, Rand al'Thor in the Wheel of Time series managed to woo three different women! Without trying! In the Visitation by Frank Peretti, the widower slowly falls for another character amongst the backdrop of the spiritual warfare plaguing the town. Even in this brother's favorite crime series he reads, which I've tried the first book of, there is a love interest for the main character.

So, really, I wonder what his beef with 'chick books' really is.  Romance, love, sexual tension, and ensuing conflict are all around us to varying levels. And unlike novels, we don't always get a happy ending. Hearts get broken, lives are devastated and turned around, marriages end and families are broken apart, partners turn out to be abusive jerks. Is it really so wrong to read novels in which things tend to end happier no matter what adversity hits the characters?

Yes, some people get stuck in the fantasy. Of any fiction. That's where a good therapist comes in, and I'm not completely joking when I say that, but I do mean it in a non-judgmental way. While I've never had this problem of separating fact from fiction, from reality and fantasy, I know that there are people who do have this problem, and there is really nothing I can do to help them...I'm not writing for them. I'm not writing to be theologically correct, biblically correct or historically correct...I'm not writing to be correct at all (this might be the core of my brother's issue). I'm writing a story that my head can no longer contain and if I don't get it out it's going to drive me mad. I'm exploring a world like ours, but slightly different. And if someone else happens to like it and wants to read along, that's great!

Not all my characters are going to get their happily ever after ending. Not even all platonic friendships will get a happy ending.  And some of them are really going to have to work for it.

I was just perusing Facebook and came across a meme that fits this subject. "So many men think women want money, cars and gifts. But the right woman wants: a man's time, effort, passion, honesty, loyalty, smile, and him choosing to put her as his priority." I know that this has been my main complaint from time to time in the past when Mr. Janney ignored me for his gaming. He's gotten better at that. There has to be a balance in any relationship, and that balance can change at any given moment depending on a partner's changing needs. This truth is reflected in many romance novels, at least the ones I read. It's not about what the guy can do for the girl, it's about the time and the effort.

And since 50% of the worlds population are "chicks", why shouldn't there be a genre of literature for us? I don't like the crime series my brother does. I tried, but I just don't. But that's ok, because those books aren't aimed at me. If it suits my brother's taste, then that's fine as those books are obviously geared for him and like minded readers. All genres of literature are equal. None is better than another. We just each have different tastes and preferences. I'm sure there are men out there that enjoy a good romance novel, I just don't know where they are!

Don't discourage people to read. Ever. It's not cool. It's not up to you to decide whether someone else will like a book.

End rant. Thanks for reading.