disney read alongs

20 Minutes of Reading

            Today, Brock Turner’s name trends on social media.  Yesterday I read his victim’s letter (whom I’ll call Jane to avoid confusion) and I thought it was fake.  I truly believed that the letter was some sort of viral story to get people to finally talk about rape culture.  “Rape culture”.  The fact that “rape culture” is even a thing, with a complete wikipedia page is grounds for us to discuss this, because we don’t.  We scoff at it.  Psh.  She was drunk.  She was making out with him.  Her skirt was too short.  She walked with him to her car.  She never told him to stop.  THIS is rape culture; it’s excusing rape.  Adding “But…” to the story of a woman being raped.

            I tend to use the Internet these days for comedy.  I try to post things to make people laugh or roll their eyes at my sarcastic, dry humor.  But today I’m not in the mood.  I read Jane’s letter and I physically felt sick.  I once read a short story by the author of Fight Club in high school and it made me gag, and it was, of course, fictional.  The letter I read, this woman’s own words, made that fictional story seem like a page out of a Disney read-along book for kids.  My eyes couldn’t get to the end fast enough.  I wanted to hear this monster got life in prison, but even then, this would do little to ease my churning stomach of what he did to her.

            I read the letter feeling helpless and angry, as I’m sure was the general feeling of the now millions who have read it as well.  You want to beat the monster to a pulp, you want to hear he was smashed in by inmates at his prison, and yet, the damage has been done.  Jane is different, forever.  Her family is different, forever.  Because guess what?  He’s not the first, and won’t be the last to commit this heinous act and he’s not the first, and won’t be the last to get off easy (the fact he was caught by those two students is the only thing you can thank God for that night, other than her not being killed).

            Hearing that the judge let him off with a sentence so light, it once again had me believe the letter was a made up story about how we treat rape victims, and I had do Google the story to see.  But as much as it didn’t make sense, it also made perfect sense.  He’s a white male, who has a nice smile.  He’s a swimmer.  Come on, let’s not get crazy here.  Prison?  Why, that’d be horrible for him!  This, right here, that’s the problem.  And who is discussing this problem?  Black people.  Black people are screaming this problem in our faces and we sit there and go, “Well, gee, it wasn’t ME who did that…”

            Right now, people are going crazy with the election—Trump might be president.  Things are going to get bad if Trump is president…no.  Things ARE bad.  They’ve BEEN bad.  Having a black president didn’t solve racism.  Sandra Bland was murdered in a jail cell, a church in Charleston was shot up by a nice, misunderstood white boy whom was treated to Burger King after.  That poor boy!  What will jail do to him!?  What if he can’t enjoy his steak?!  THIS, is the problem.  “White privilege”.  You’ve surely heard the term by now.

            Right now, as of this moment, June 2016, black women make up the largest group of college educated people.  And what do we do with that?  We spit on them.  I recently saw a photo going around of about a dozen identical cartoonish looking women standing side by side, and the front woman was light skinned, and as it went to the last woman, the skin tone darkened.  The last woman being the darkest.  Someone saw this, and decided to joke—“ladies, line up in order from highest GPA to lowest”…and another “ladies, line up in order from gorgeous to disgusting”…”ladies, line up in order from wife to baby mama”.  If you saw these, if you reposted these, if you cracked a smile at these…you make up the problem that consumes the lives of these (and all) women.

            These are no longer microaggressions.  These are blatant, in your face, so obvious they can’t be ignored.  Women sure as hell see them.  I suppose as a white male, I write this in hopes that “my fellow man” will reconsider their seemingly innocent actions such as reposting a photo that depicts women as an object, as inferior, and as property, because it’s all under the umbrella is rape culture.  The moment you take into consideration what a woman was wearing at the time of a rape, is the moment you are on the side of evil.  If that’s even a question that comes up in your mind, you need to step back and really change yourself.  Take a class.  Take ONE class about human development or cultural anthropology or any women’s studies—or race.

            I do believe the solution is education to all this.  I do.  And the funny thing is there is an entire community online who is educating you for free.  FREE.  Log into Twitter.  Go on to Tumblr.  Read.  Understand.  Research.  People are literally shoving facts and knowledge in your face about white privilege, about rape culture, about how a trans person won’t try to play with your fucking dick in a bathroom stall—and you aren’t charged a goddamn dime.

            Listen.  I urge you.  A woman was raped by a monster, and we are talking about how great of a swimmer he was.  And it’s because we are (and have been) just conditioning ourselves to lighten rape, to lighten racism, to make excuses.  “Well, Sandra Bland shouldn’t have…”, no.  We need to educate ourselves and understand to not just be “tolerant” anymore.  “Tolerant” means to put up with.  We need to recognize, respect, have sympathy, empathy for.

            Everyone wants love, as tacky as that sounds.  We are here for a very, very short time, and when you put other people down to put yourself up, you’re garbage.  For every “AllLivesMatter”, every time you cry out for a “What about a white version of that?”, you’re perpetuating the white privilege march.  Stop.  Don’t.  Do you know how you can be apart of it?  Support it.  Reblog the 300 pound black woman in a prom dress who feels proud of her body, reblog the transgender person smiling with their loved one, reblog the gay couple on their wedding—spread the fucking love.  Don’t retaliate with your own movement.  You have your own movement, and that’s wherein lies the problem.  There’s no white extermination happening.  There’s no overpowering of people of color.  You know what they’re trying to do?  Get this…it’s a crazy one…they’re trying to be equal.  And happy.  And not stomped on because of their sexual orientation, gender, race, and whatever the fuck you want to throw in the mix that YOU shit on.

            20 minutes of action.  The monster’s dad said his son has to pay a steep price for 20 minutes of action.  Gentlemen…this man just referred to “rape” as “action”.  And 20 minutes of it—he made it sound like it was “just 20 minutes”.  Rape, for Jane, is eternity.  That 20 minutes must’ve felt like forever.  A Simpson’s episode is 20 minutes.  A French bread pizza cooks for 20 minutes.  Rape is not something to measure.  What would’ve been justifiable then, dad?  40 minutes?  Would that be worth the sentence?  What if someone raped your wife for 20 minutes?  That ok?  It’s just 20 minutes, right?

            This is where we continue to go wrong.  Excuses, justification, using privilege to weasel out of responsibility for actions, and worse, getting away with it.  A LOT.  I’ve become so used to seeing white men get off from these things that I’m more shocked when they’re convicted.  How sickening is that?  I’m blown away when a white man gets in trouble for raping a woman, for shooting an unarmed black man, for lighting an animal on fire.  This is our problem.

            I suppose I will end this with a plea to learn.  I really don’t know what else to do about this.  Learn.  Listen.  Don’t spread horrible things.  It’s pretty easy to know what’s hurtful by now.  If a joke has something to do with sexual orientation, race, or something that a person IS or FEELS, it’s not a joke.  Block bad people online.  Block bad people offline.  Saying, “It’s okay, I have a black friend!”, “Chill out it’s just a joke”, “Why can’t we have a white out day?” are perfect examples of weaseling out of responsibility.  It’s such a simple idea to stop spreading hatred and instead of tearing down people’s accomplishments to applaud them and embrace them.  See a single black mother getting her Bachelor’s degree while holding her baby on graduation?  HELL FUCKING YES.  I can’t even imagine the uphill battle that took—don’t make her a point-and-laugh because she looks fabulous and you don’t.  To overcome a statistic and a stereotype that she had no involvement in creating is nothing short of a miracle.

            Fall semester registration starts in August for most schools.  Take some courses.  If you don’t know how to go about it, go on the Internet and ask.  Someone will show you.  For free.