Injustice, Ignorance and the 21st Century – An Open Letter to Society

The father of the rapist says the rape was “20 minutes of action.” I cannot even describe the depth of my anger against this person who clearly is perpetuating the very culture “The Stanford Rape Victim (Her name wasn’t released for her own protection)” and every other decent human being on earth has been trying to fix.

This is what I think “20 minutes of action” actually is:

Lifetime of anxiety, worry, sadness, anger.
Lifetime of having to live with this tragedy.
Lifetime of people unfortunately labeling her as “the victim”
Lifetime of all her loved ones’ anguish and frustration.
Lifetime of having to learn to love herself and accept herself again.
Lifetime of learning how not to be afraid of physical touches, even from her loving partner and family.

So much more, and oh right, add insult to the injury, a year of complete torture and sheer injustice to this woman and all the victims of sexual violence around the world who had to relive their own tragedy, their own anguish, their own waking up in the middle of the night crying, their own breaking down “out-of-nowhere” in the middle of the day, their own crippling fear that every time they walk a dark alley way, someone might hurt them.

Guess what’s even worse. All women fear this, regardless of whether or not they have been “actually” assaulted. Why is it that we had to worry if what we’re wearing is “distracting” or “provoking?” Why is it that we are the ones who are constantly told to be careful, when men were told that “boys will be boys?” Why is it that we, as the victims, had to have curfew, when boys were allowed to do whatever? Surely, if anyone should be “locked up,” (not saying they should be) it should be the potential perpetrators, and not the potential victims? Why is it that we must be stripped off of our value, our freedom, our voice, our joy, because people fail to understand that they shouldn’t hurt other people.

I’m not saying that I don’t understand why parents feel compelled to do that, why my parents worry about my going out late at night. I’m not saying that parents don’t have the right to feel worried. But let’s not forget the actual reason and actual foundation underneath this monstrous house of horror: IGNORANCE, INSENSITIVITY, CRUELTY, AND LACK OF HUMAN DECENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Let’s not keep perpetuating the concept that victims of sexual crimes are part of the perpetration. Let’s not keep fostering this ludicrous idea that victims of sexual violence should EVER be blamed, even partially, for what happened. Let’s not keep being part of problem where women, basically are always asked to fear for their life, asked to “be careful” (whatever that means), for what isn’t their fault.

I’m sorry, sir, that your son’s life has been ruined. That he’s not been eating well. That he’s no longer the happy-go-lucky-self he used to be. He probably should have thought about all these consequences and ramifications when he assaulted an unconscious woman and did unspeakable things that can never be undone. She is feeling all of it as well, you know, what your son is feeling, I mean: worry, anxiety, depression, fear. But she didn’t sign up for that. She didn’t sign up for that when your son harmed her, assaulted her, and violated her. Your son did, when he, again, harmed her, assaulted her, and violated her. Did you read her statement? She couldn’t go to sleep before the sun came out, because she was afraid of going to sleep when it was dark, because she was afraid she might wake up with that drenched feeling again. She had to leave her job. She became someone else. She’s lost who she is.

You say it’s unfair that your son’s whole life is ruined because of ‘20 minutes of action.’ Don’t even talk about the unfairness of this situation because what you’re referring to as ‘20 minutes of action’ has violated THE REST OF HER LIFE and her families’, her friends’, her partner’s. The sentence he received was NOTHING compared to the lifetime of damage he has caused. And if you for a second, think your son is the only “victim” here, you’re so terribly mistaken. If your son is a victim, he’s the victim of the society that told him women are objects, he’s the victim of the culture that taught him ‘boys will be boys,’ he’s the victim BECAUSE OF YOU, you who apparently showed him that he doesn’t need to take responsibilities for his action, you who told him that money and prestige can escape the law, you who taught him that rape = 20 minutes of ‘action.’

But your son’s not the victim. He was the violator, the perpetrator, the rapist. And so are you, sir.

I’m not saying there is no room for forgiveness. I am all for forgiveness, and according to her statement, she was ready to forgive as well. But where is his remorse? Where is his regret? Where is his responsibility? You say your son has been feeling remorseful, but if he truly has been, he would not have dragged this to court, he would not have kept insisting that the only thing he did was wrong was drinking, he would not have made her the victim, again, and again, and again. And if he truly has been feeling remorseful, he should have humbly accepted his punishment and apologized to her, for all the damage and hurt his “accident” caused her. But when you refer to rape as “20 minutes of action,” when you refer to sexual assault as “an accident,” you’re not being remorseful, you’re not taking responsibilities for your actions.

People say boys will be boys. Why must they be? What does that even mean? In what world should the word “boy” mean someone who is capable of and can actually carry out HURTING OTHER HUMAN BEINGS? Is that what mothers mean when they say “There’s my boy?” How are we still living in this world where the “job description” for women includes “being careful with everything she does / she wears and everywhere she goes and anyone she talks to” (Yes, ANYONE, cuz let’s not forget – 80% of the rape were committed by someone known to the victim), because the job description for men omitted “being considerate of other’s feelings and respectful of their choices and decisions?”

I’m not saying all men are evil. I’m not saying only women are victims. But it is infuriating to know that, at this day and age, where supposedly women have equal rights and all that jazz, we still have to explain to people that RAPE IS NOT AN ACCIDENT, that the system even allows for this kind of ordeal to be taken to court, that some people will be willing to REPRESENT and DEFEND this kind of behaviour, for whatever reason, money, power, you name it. Would you say the same had it been your own daughter, your own mother, your own sister, your own girlfriend? Would you turn to them and say “Well, you should have been more careful, honey” when you are looking into those swollen, tear-drenched eyes that used to shine brightly and carry so much life? And if you think even for a second “Well, I haven’t personally ever attacked women” or “Well, I haven’t personally degraded women like that,” and somehow feel a sense of relief that you’re not part of the problem, I’m sorry, you’re wrong. Because even that “harmless” comment about that “rack on that chick” or not being infuriated that women everywhere are told how to dress, how to speak, where to go, how much to drink, when to be home, who to talk to, what to watch out for, is all part of the issue.

So please, let’s be infuriated. Let’s be angry. Let’s be so outraged, that we do something about it. Because I refuse to accept that “that’s just how things are.”

Jessica Ye Seul Kim

Featured image rights go to Stanford.edu

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