Over the last week an overwhelming number of people have come forward to express their disgust at Colin Kaepernick, the football player who protested racial injustice by sitting through our national anthem during a home game. My newsfeed has been wrought with statements of condemnation and support for the athlete. Opposing claims that he has both disrespected our military and police forces and that he is also entitled, as a US citizen, to the right to peaceful protest and free speech.
In other news, over the last week an underwhelming amount of people have come forward to express comparable outrage at the early release of rapist, Brock Turner (whom the vast majority of the media still insists on referring to as “Stanford Swimmer”. As if that’s what he should be receiving notoriety for.)
In the last three days I have counted 16 men on my newsfeed posting about Kaepernick and only one outlining the injustice of Turner’s speedy release.
Take a moment to consider what that says about the way our country regards violence towards women…
I’m not here to say Kaepernick was right or wrong. I’m not here to oppose or defend his actions or the reasons behind them. I’m here to point out how one man’s non-violent protest is more controversial to our nation than yet another example of our country saying, “Hey, rape our women. You’ll just get a slap on the wrist.”
I’m the daughter of a police officer and the sister of a Naval lieutenant. I know what our flag represents. But I am also a woman who has been sexually assaulted, who knows countless women who have been sexually assaulted, who knows women who have been raped…And to me, one more man, among countless other men, finding leniency in the face of the law is a far bigger issue than a football player trying to make a statement.
In our society women who are raped are interrogated. What were you wearing? Were you drinking? Why were you out so late? Had you been with him before? Are you sure you explicitly said, no? Why didn’t you speak up until now? They are told to give it a name or to pretend it didn’t happen.
And as was demonstrated with this case, apparently men who rape are told, “I think jail time would be damaging for you, so how about a shorter sentence.”
What society needs to come to terms with is that rape is not an accident or a lapse in judgement. It is not crime of passion. It is a crime that stems from the urge to dominate. It has nothing to do with sexual urges and lowered inhibitions. It has everything to do overpowering, controlling and taking. Men who rape are men show an inherent contempt for and disregard towards women. And no amount of pheomelanin, or money, or athletic achievement makes that less true.
The way our country views and discusses and punishes rape is appalling. We, as a people, men and women alike, should be outraged, yelling at the top of our lungs about it. We should be fighting against the fact that the law still views a woman’s right to her own body as something that’s up for debate. That victims of rape are treated like criminals and rapists like victims (as long as their white and upper-middle class, of course.)
We should be demanding change. We should be giving them hell.
But we’re too busy getting angry about who’s on the football bench.