CONTENT WARNING: The article below discusses sexual assault and photos may trigger.
Brock Turner, who is known as the ‘baby-faced Stanford freshman’ instead of being known as ‘a rapist’, has been in the media a lot lately. Having been released from county jail after 3 months of serving his 6 month sentence, he has sparked a lot of media attention. This is because the way his case has been handled has been a gross misrepresentation of justice to women who gather up the courage to report sexual assault, as well as showing the world how the media reports on sexual assault cases. Men have potential, whereas women have a past.
I’ve been watching this case closely with a mix of horror and sadness. It’s depressing to know that despite the fact that he was caught and charged, the media will retell his story in the most sympathetic view it possibly can do. It’s also sickening that the assault was on Stanford campus,where the victim went to school.
As a response to the Brock Turner case, Ithaca College student from New York named Yana Mazurkevich and sexual assault awareness group Current Solutions collaborated to show what campus rape culture is like through a powerful photo series. Titled ‘It Happens’, the photos show common sexual assault examples perpetrated by men against men, men against women, women against men and women against women. Although the images are confronting, they display a harsh reality for most people who have been sexually assaulted before.
This whole case makes me feel terrified. It shows women my age and younger have safe spaces, like a school or a college campus, but they can become unsafe in the drop of a hat; and it’ll be because someone doesn’t understand that if a person is unconscious, they can’t consent. It highlights how prevalent rape culture is within our society, and how much it needs to change.
As a woman, we generally get told to do a lot of things to prevent being sexually assaulted. Don’t leave your drink unattended. Don’t get people to buy you drinks unless you can see a bartender make it. Don’t walk home alone at night. Try to wear flats so you can run away if you need to. Know at least three self-defense moves so if something does happen, you can get away. Why do we need to prepare in case of sexual assault? It doesn’t seem right.
Regarding the photo series, Mazurkevich told Buzzfeed News:
“The inspiration behind the series was an accumulation of personal experiences and experiences that my friends have been through.”
She also said the photos look as though they are frozen in motion, showing “something that actually happens in real life.”
The fact that it’s received over 100,000 notes on Tumblr would suggest that this experience resonates with a lot of people as well. It’s scary to think that this powerful photo series resonates with so many people around the world, and yet cases such as the Brock Turner case still get treated like they do. Lenient sentences for ‘Stanford swimmers’.