Recently, the United States has been forced to come face-to-face with the chilling power of white male privilege and how it thrives in today’s culture. The aftermath of the Brock Turner rape case has opened up a rather large can of worms that our society now has to face. Enforcement of the law is egregiously biased and unless you are a white male, it is not in your favor.
The same judge who gave Turner six months for sexual assault also gave Salvadoran immigrant Raul Ramirez three years for essentially committing the same crime, according to The Guardian.
Turner’s case isn’t isolated. In August, 23 year old Joseph Presley was charged 30 days of jail time for molesting an 8-year-old boy. The judge claimed that the sentencing was “basically probation” because “prison will be too hard on (Presley), he’s just a boy.” Well, he’s a boy who’s a rapist and deserves a rapist’s prison sentence.
It’s appalling to see how heavily white privilege can influence and manipulate America’s judicial system, especially with sexual assault cases.
Universities have a history of being breeding grounds for sexual assault, and many institutions do not handle the cases properly. On average, every one in five women and every one in 16 men have been assaulted on a college campus.
Most recently, the University of Carolina has been receiving harsh criticism from its students for mishandling sexual assault cases, but this institution of higher education is not alone. Some of our most prestigious universities have the most reports of sexual assaults on campus, like Stanford and Harvard, according to the Washington Post.
This doesn’t even include the 80 percent of college students who do not report their assaults, according to a study done in 2014 by the Department of Justice.
Victims of sexual assault have given reasons for not reporting assaults, those reasons being: The police would not do anything to help, the fear of reprisal and the inefficiencies of the justice system, according to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
In an era where a rapist like Turner is not only given a light jail sentence–not even prison–but is given an early release after three months for “good behavior,” according to the New York Post, it is no wonder that women do not report the sexual crimes against them.
On the rare occasion that they are reported, sexual assaults on college campuses are disgustingly ignored. The worst part seems to be that it is more rare to find college administrations reacting appropriately than it is to have victims report their assault. Most of the time, the accused will merely get a slap on the wrist, while the victim is left with no closure and no justice, especially when the accused is a white male.
To further proliferate this headache, the media has turned a blind eye to white male privilege–this is apparent in media coverage and language. CNN’s articles describe Turner as “Stanford swimmer” instead of ‘convicted rapist.’ Some may say this is just a subtle unimportant word choice, but the fact is that it’s the small actions that reveal the largest biases.
Former Vanderbilt University football player Cory Batey, a black man, was convicted for taking part in a sexual assault eerily similar to Turner’s case of raping an unconscious woman in a dorm, according to The Tennessean.
The cases difference lies, unsurprisingly, in its sentence. Batey had one charge against him, was remorseful during the trial and yet he was sentenced to 15 years. On the other hand Turner had three counts, wasn’t remorseful and we all know what happened there.
Turner represents the epitome of white male privilege. He isn’t the first white male student to get preferential treatment, and won’t be the last. Especially in cases of sexual assault, white male privilege runs rampant.
At three months, Turner has still spent more time in jail than 97 percent of rapists, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Now, The Young Turks report that Turner is pushing to speak at university campuses across the country about alcohol use and promiscuity. This is a slap in the face to rape victims and people of color. This has nothing to do with promiscuity, this has everything to do with rape and privilege. America is built to protect the white and the affluent, and it needs to stop.