Dear Mrs. Turner,
I understand. Brock is your baby. You grew him, birthed him, fed him, changed his diapers, helped him stand, wiped his tears, cheered him on. You love him, probably more than anything else in this world, and watching his current state is extremely painful for you. I get that.
However, what I think you don’t understand is exactly how your son got into this position.
Listen, I wasn’t there. None of us were. But having read more articles about the case than I wish I had, and having heard the testimonies of the two men who intervened, I think I understand the basics. Your son was at a party where copious amounts of alcohol were being ingested. He met a girl, who was also drunk, and he was attracted to her. Maybe they started fooling around and the girl passed out. Maybe she even seemed “into it” before this. Let’s go with that, since it sets your son up in the most positive light possible. After she went unconscious, your son continued to molest her and penetrate her in ways she was unable to consent to. That girl woke up in a hospital, not in her own clothes, confused, and afraid. She was subjected to a rape kit examination, which can be even more penetrating than the event itself. She had to hear from other people what had happened to her, she had to suffer through excruciating cross-examination at his trial, and now she has to live with that trauma for the rest of her life.
Your son was drunk, let’s assume that. He wasn’t in his best mind to make decisions. But he still made them. And they were bad decisions. They changed the life of another person forever and in irrevocably painful ways.
I have held my tongue thus far because this situation has nothing to do with me personally. However, after stumbling upon your Brock Turner Family Support Facebook page today (quite by accident), I can no longer be silent. As a sexual assault survivor, a woman, and a decent human being, I have to make this heard.
You claim your son is not a criminal; he is a “good boy.” In the now infamous letter your husband wrote to the judge at Brock’s trial, he details all of Brock’s wonderful traits and the reasons why Brock doesn’t deserve to go to prison. (Let’s just ignore, for now, the way he refers to the incident of rape as an issue of promiscuity.)
Did you think before this that all criminals were evil people? Did you think they were all anti-heroes who had no hearts, no souls, no consciences? Do you think your son cannot simultaneously be a good person and a criminal? Because he absolutely can.
Being white, being an athlete, being a popular kid, even being a “good boy” does not diminish Brock’s actions. It does not excuse his choices. He committed a crime and is thus, by definition, a criminal, and he should be held to the same standards of all other people who commit that crime. Did you know that, in general, California law gives 3-8 years for a rape sentence like your son’s? And yet he was given 6 months. SIX MONTHS. Because the judge was concerned about his well being.
I will not go into race, class, or gender biases here, although they all exist and are infuriatingly at play in this case. What I will impress upon you is that your son got the lightest possible punishment for a horrendous crime. He got off easy. Clear and simple.
And yet here you are, publicly calling him a victim, defending his needs, crying out over the unfairness of his sentence, demonizing his fellow inmates and practically putting your son on the cross in the process.
Your son may be a good person, Mrs. Turner, but he raped a woman. He forever altered her life, her relationships, her ability to trust and to know herself. He committed irreversible damage to another human being, and he needs to be held accountable for that.
When you parade yourself in public as his ultimate defender, you look like a fool. But worse, you look like you don’t care at all about anyone else. Do you have a daughter, Mrs. Turner? How would you feel if she were the victim in this case, and Brock was someone else’s child?
You are insulting every woman who has ever been sexually assaulted when you claim your son is a victim. And let me tell you, we’ve all got enough to deal with. We don’t need you throwing the highest form of our society’s rape culture in our faces. I certainly hope you don’t call yourself a feminist, because it is hard enough to swallow that you are also a woman.
No one is asking you to disown your son. No one is even asking you to be angry with him. We are, however, asking you to keep your harmful rhetoric to yourself. You are only adding insult to injury and lending support to the side of perpetrators everywhere.
The girl your son raped will suffer in silence for years to come. Brock will have to do the same.