LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Blaming the victim’ mentality holding back society

With respect to the latest developments concerning the six-month jail sentence for three counts of sexual assault by Brock Allen Turner, I have several questions that trouble me deeply.

Why does society continue to blame the victim? Why does society continue to place so little value on over half the population of the planet, women? Why do we, particularly state instruments of justice, and parents, for that matter, continue to plant, cultivate and protect monsters?

Reading some of the comments on social media and in various media outlets, I get the impression that, in matters of sexual assault, the finger of blame and shame continues to point at the victim.

What was she wearing? Was she drinking? Why was she there? Did she know going in what could happen in that kind of environment? These kinds of questions are irrelevant, and their answers only highlight that judgment on her part was lacking. The answers to these questions do not, in any circumstance, green-light sexual assault! So, why do we, as a society, continue to ask dumb questions like this?

Questions like this are asked because, as a society, we harbor inner monsters that empathize with the victims’ attackers. I believe there is something dark in the spirit of man that seems to champion violence and hate. How else can one explain these questions and the dilemma victims often face when trying to decide whether to report a sexual assault?

It seems like, with each passing month, I read about a young girl burned to death for marrying someone her parents didn’t arrange for her to marry (Google Pakistan, Afghanistan or India, and honor killings), or another a woman being accosted and brutalized in the United States.

In far too many cases, justice is, ineffective, or biased against the victim, especially poor victims and minorities. It baffles my mind how we care so little for the women of this world without whom this world would cease to exist. We celebrate Mother’s Day, and spit in the face of women that have been brutalized behind Dumpsters by handing down six-month sentences for their attackers. We are on the verge of electing a woman to the highest office in the land, but we continue to yawn in the face of human tragedies such as honor killings.

Last, and this is perhaps the most troubling question I have, does anyone see the problem behind a man who thrusts himself into an unconscious woman, on the ground, in the dark, behind a pile of trash? What is wrong with that picture?

Now, picture that setting for a moment. Now, juxtapose that image with the one Mr. Allen’s father and police department offered to the public during his trial of a clean-cut, aspiring swimmer with Olympic aspirations. When you think about Allen’s assault and the environment it took place in, the image is not of a clean-cut all American young man, but of a monster. The fact that Allen’s father and the judge saw something different from what you and I see when we envision the attack, and the graphic setting it took place in, are revolting.

I suggest that, as a society, we stop asking dumb questions and start looking into how to excise the darkness within us. We need to stop giving aid and comfort to those demons that reside in each of us. Demons that shame victims, feign concern for the plight of women burned alive, and have empathy for the future well-being of rapists, are holding our society back from evolving into the highest order of human potential.

John P. Craig
United States Marine Corps (retired)

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