In this post I aim to discuss behavior on social media, reactions to rape and the newsworthiness of this white supervillain.
I’m imagining you’ve seen this mug plastered all over social media ,
If you haven’t; what rock have you been living under?
Basically this guy called Brock Turner took advantage of a less than sober girl. That would be the polite way to put it, the way you should put it is the reality that Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman.
The story perpetuated to claim our newsfeeds when Brock’s father wrote an open letter defending his son claiming that “20 minutes of action” shouldn’t affect 20 years of his son’s life. If you’re wondering how much of an asshole this guy can be, remember that he’s the kind of father who names their kid Brock…
Brock Turner is whiter than your fridge
This story was social media gold as a result of the ridiculous 6 month sentencing of Mr Turner. Many people were outraged at the disparity of sentencing between white rapists and black rapists highlighting that Brock Turner was let off considerably lighter than those of a different race. It’s important to mention here that Brock Turner is the textbook definition of the white stereotype. Upper-middle class student of an Ivy League College with an added bonus of being a hopeful Olympian. Brock Turner is the textbook definition of privilege and for many city liberals who dominate social media, he represents exactly what’s wrong with society.
As a result of this, online news outlets pumped out story after story about Brock Turner because it was so crazily newsworthy. The actions of Brock Turner and the resulting judicial decision to let him off with only 6 months confirms the white privilege many liberals have been fighting online for years. To channel my inner Gene Wilder; it’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal, white privilege exists.
Forced willy wonka reference is forced.
Didn’t really change anything though
For a moment there it felt like the whole world was getting behind the Brock Turner story, realising and accepting the white privilege was real and that we could really change things. Of course this could never last because the story wasn’t about sexual violence, it was about a privileged white kid getting away with rape. Subsequently the story died when everyone decided that this guy was more interesting.
The clear issue here was that the moral panic was never about the wider issue of rape, rape culture and judicially enforced racism. Instead the story focused on the tale of Brock Turner, his father and the outrage resulting from the situation. Whilst this coverage is necessary it isn’t inciting people to act or change the situation they are faced with. Whilst many people were angry enough to type an angry comment on a stuff.co.nz facebook post it is unlikely that many people would be incited to actually take effective action about rape.
6 months from now
6 months from now there’ll be another Brock Turner, there’ll be another rape case and another moral panic. 6 months from then it’ll happen again but nothing will ever change.
So the next time something like this happens, think about the discourse you’re engaging with. When you’re friends start talking about it, direct the conversation to the wider issue of rape rather than focusing on the situation of an individual. Brock Turner is by all means a stain of a human being, but he’s also not the only one out there and getting angry at him doesn’t change the fact that you’ll face another situation like this 6 months down the line.