Now that the Brock Turner media blitz—and the accompanying lecture on white privilege, rape culture, and “the campus rape epidemic”—has wound down, it has made way for real news events like Hillary’s email scandal. Though these events have prompted important “lessons” on right-wing Christian homophobia, toxic masculinity, white xenophobia, and the need for gun control—it’s perhaps a good time to go over what we learned before we continue.
Brock Turner, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Stanford undergraduate, allegedly dragged a passed-out woman behind a dumpster and violently raped her. Worse yet, because Turner is a talented white swimmer with a name that seems taken from a Bret Easton Ellis novel, he was sentenced to an outrageously lenient six-month prison sentence. Let’s use this miscarriage of justice to spark the long overdue “national conversation on sexual assault”—or in other words, why are privileged white men raping so many women?
That’s the standard intended takeaway from an event that enthralled and infuriated an entire nation, briefly reviving the campus rape panic that birthed Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus,” and the discredited documentary, The Hunting Ground. Despite the level of media attention lavished on Brock Turner and this case, many essential details about the assault have been underreported and are not widely known. A more nuanced rendering of the central event is badly needed.
This is what occurred on January 17th, 2015
Brock Turner and his unnamed accuser—Jane Doe—attended a party at the Kappa Alpha frat house. Jane Doe consumed four shots of whiskey before arriving; while there, she had beer and two shots of whiskey. She and Brock Turner—also drunk after drinking seven beers and an indeterminate quantity of whiskey—were observed kissing and dancing before leaving the party together holding hands.
Yards from the house, Doe and Turner slipped near a dumpster (a focal point for much of the reportage on this case) and where, according to Turner, he and Doe kissed and Doe rubbed Turner’s back as Turner “fingered” Doe, an act that Turner insists was consensual. At 12:55 AM—fewer than forty-five minutes after Doe last called her boyfriend—two cyclists heading toward the Kappa Alpha house noticed a fully clothed Turner grinding against Doe. Observing that Doe appeared to be unresponsive, the cyclists yelled to Turner, who ran from the scene.
One of the cyclists chased Turner, caught and restrained him until the police arrived. Jane Doe was largely unresponsive for the next three and a half hours. She would retain little memory of the night and virtually no memory of interacting with Turner. Turner was charged with six offenses, including rape of an intoxicated person and rape of an unconscious person. Turner was convicted of three of the six charges: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object (his hand), and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object (his hand), and was sentenced to a six month term in the county jail.
He is no longer enrolled at Stanford. He has been permanently banned from competition by USA Swimming. He will be on a sex offender registry for the remainder of his life.
That was the crime that inspired a torrent of outraged think pieces and a firestorm on social media, and resulted in a petition—signed over a million times—calling for the removal of a judge. That was the rape that was promoted in a “crime of the century”-style tabloid tenor, despite so insufficiently embodying the legal definition of “rape” as to have failed to result in a conviction of rape by name.
Needless to say, Brock Turner is absolutely responsible for his bad behavior, and “dry humping” a person who is passing out doubtlessly is a bad idea—but the more significant story is an ideology-obsessed media using an absurd and less than newsworthy case as the vehicle with which to manipulate a pliable public, an ambitious project that required the obfuscation and underreporting of many essential details about the crime itself, while emphasizing the irrelevant and sensational.
The New York Daily News claimed that Brock Turner “took an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and brutally raped her.” Most outlets opted for a weasel words-ish approach, encouraging their readers to imagine the worst as they described the assault tersely, choosing to instead focus on such essential details as his interest in swimming, his father’s politically incorrect use of the word “action,” or his appearance in various photographs, with the Chicago Tribune going so far as to write simply: “Brock Turner’s smiling school photo is what a campus sexual predator looks like,” a line that gives away the true purpose of the Brock Turner publishing bombardment.
The media is no longer interested in presenting facts with impartiality (were they ever?), so much as taking useful cases and employing them to push a social agenda. Consider the levels of doublethink the media engages in so to sell this case. In an “age of mass incarceration” and destructive mandatory minimums, leftist journalists are happy to adopt law-and-order conservative arguments when covering an affluent white criminal: many decried that the defendant’s lack of criminal history was considered relevant in sentencing, and the possibility of Turner being released on probation before serving his full term has been written about with open alarm.
The mother of Michael Brown is paid to lie about her son in a well-received book, while the friends of Brock Turner are subject to coordinated media harassment campaigns for writing letters to a judge. The comments sections of hard-left outlets like The Atlantic and The Huffington Post filled with readers cheerfully discussing the possibility of Turner being raped by a fellow inmate. And less than a month after the media excoriated Donald Trump for questioning a Hispanic judge’s impartiality—this after the media aggressively sold the notion that most if not all Hispanics loathe Trump—it is considered perfectly credible and responsible for journalists to suggest that the Brock Turner judge adjudicated this case under the influence of extreme ethnic bias.
This is both an anti-white and ideological feminist project
The anti-white influence is partly an expression of journalistic laziness, a rare opportunity to write about an offender in a polemical and nakedly vengeful way, a luxury not afforded to journalists covering the rote urban and underclass violence that represents the bulk of American crime.
Writing a vitriolic article about a black rapist is too awkward, the racial undertones too uncomfortable. There is also a more extreme impulse at work: a way of controlling reality through the dissemination of media narratives. Most journalists are far-left progressives. They believe inequality and social stratification reflect only the degree to which whites have exploited people of color. Anti-white journalism—or conversely, absurdly sympathetic depictions of minority offenders—is an effort toward a correction.
This is likely both a conscious and an unconscious choice, motivated by the desire to fix an unjust society, but also reinforced by pure and intuitive anti-white bigotry, a kind of perfect inversion of the lynch mob mentality of an earlier era. In the way one imagines a racist white southerner filling with rage at the notion of a black rapist, while making excuses for a white offender, modern journalists obsess over mitigating factors and external pressures when writing about inner-city crime, as white spree shooters and rapists are presented as damning evidence of white male privilege and pathology.
Most journalists couch their anti-white proselytizing in subtly manipulative pieces that retain the flavor of impartial reportage. Increasingly, many do not.
Radical ideological feminists tend to share the anti-white outlook held amongst most radical progressives, but their promotion of the Brock Turner case was used to different ends. Their movement appears eager to open the definition of rape as widely as possible. That Brock Turner’s accuser had drunk herself into a stupor on her own volition, likely engaged in some level of consensual sexual interaction with Brock Turner before passing out, and ultimately retained no memory of the event is encouraging to feminists.
Rightly or wrongly, so frivolous a case would likely not have been prosecuted in an earlier age. Feminists are eager to see many more such prosecutions for rape, and some may see this case as another step toward a future when a woman can, after drinking herself into a blackout and engaging in consensual sex with a stranger, have her partner prosecuted for criminal rape, ideally anonymously and without having to answer and invasive questions about the nature of her interaction.
Sound ridiculous? If so, read this feminist think piece written in response to the Brock Turner case. Clearly to an ideological feminist—and very much in the postmodern tradition that undergirds much of third-wave feminist theory—rape is an act that has no basic characteristics, save for the degree to which a woman finds its memory painful or degrading.
More significant than the crime itself in the public’s imagination was Brock Turner’s six-month jail sentence, heinously lenient according to most professional commentators. Few bothered to acknowledge that Turner wasn’t found guilty of the most serious charges brought against him, or that he acted without malice and did not employ force or violence—in fact, it would be considered offensive and insensitive for a journalist to bring the latter point up, despite the unambiguous truthfulness of such an observation.
Feminists are not merely interested in stretching the definition of rape beyond any reasonable boundary; they seek to ensure that the public views rape, all rape, as perfectly equivalent in its horror and destructiveness. This is useful, as it would certainly be a boon to grievance feminism if all women with a memory of a bad sexual experience identified as “survivors” of the most heinous kind of male predation.
Many female journalists wrote about this case with a kind of naked fury and revulsion, rather incongruous with the unexceptional nature of the crime. This is curious, until one remembers who is writing: affluent and well-educated feminist journalists and thinkers, an extraordinarily privileged category of first-world women whose personal experience with “sexual assault” is likely limited to awkward and ambiguous alcohol-fueled university hook-ups.
Given their level of narcissism, radical ideological instruction, and delusions of oppression, that their “rapes” would not be regarded as such by the legal system or the general public is a likely motivation for many in pushing “the campus rape epidemic” canard—a crusade that created Mattress Girl, A Rape on Campus, the oft-debunked 1 in 5 statistic, and the Duke Lacrosse embarrassment—as those same feminists largely neglect authentic rape epidemics, such as the sexual violence sex workers are routinely subject to, or the horrifying rape culture endemic to the American prison system.
The role of alcohol in these kinds of events is critical, despite the conspicuous silence on the subject when feminists discuss such assaults. Without binge drinking these events simply do not occur. As an ideological notion or rhetorical strategy, the “victim blaming” concept has been useful in the effort to reduce complex interactions to simplistic dichotomies of monster and martyr.
From a practical perspective, with the goal to prevent rape and destructive “gray-area” encounters that emotionally wound, it has been a disaster. Feminism could have used its influence to spread awareness of the degree to which binge drinking reduces female agency and is a precursor to degrading and damaging sexual experiences, but instead the movement opted to serve the narrative rather than its adherents.
Brock Turner’s behavior was heinous and objectionable, but so was the histrionic response from a media that seems to prefer to create public events than report on them—a much more dangerous phenomenon than the absurd notion of a “campus rape epidemic.”
If we desire something like an impartial media, then we should view their excesses and abuses with a much greater level of scrutiny, even when it is politically incorrect to do so. In a nation where only forty percent of reported forcible rapes result in a conviction, The Stanford Rape Case is neither news nor a miscarriage of justice; it is a handy progressive case study and an effective vehicle for the spread of destructive and illiberal notions about women, men, and whiteness.
Read More: Revisiting The Duke Rape Case