current affairs

Brock Turner blames sexual assault on Stanford University’s “party culture”

The statement of ex-swimmer Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a girl after attending a party at Stanford University, has been released and it shows an appalling lack of responsibility for his own actions. Instead, the 20-year-old cites alcohol and promiscuity as the reason behind his attack.

Agonising detail

The case went global after the victim of the attack released a copy of her own testimony, in which she addressed her assailant directly in court to describe exactly how much Turner’s actions have destroyed her life as well as those closest to her. Her words went into agonising detail about how she woke up in hospital bed with no recollection of the night before, and how she had to learn about the facts of her own assault the same way that everybody else did – through stories published in newspapers.

Turner was convicted of three different charges of sexual assault, so there’s no disputing that he is guilty. However, one of the main parts of the victim’s letter to Turner is her anguish at how he refused to accept responsibility for his actions, and his refusal to express any kind of remorse for what he did to her is evident in his statement to the judge.

Blame shifting

Brock Turner states, “At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed.” This, along with an in-depth description of how drinking and partying were integral parts of student life at Stanford, shows the defendant’s attempt to shift the blame from himself and onto the concept of the “dangers of alcohol.”

Turner’s statement, as well as other aspects of the case such as his friend’s letters of support, the amount of time it took his mug shot to be released to the press and descriptions of his promising athleticism, demonstrates overwhelmingly how ingrained into us rape culture is. The excuse itself is weak – everybody knows that drinking too much is not the cause assault. Especially when the person being assaulted has no way of fighting back, calling for help or, doing anything at all because they’ve consumed so much alcohol they are unconscious.

Not only is the excuse weak, but the statement is annoying too. Brock goes so far to take responsibility for what he did, with phrases like, “I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [redacted],” but then is quick to pull on the judge’s heartstrings by saying, “I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case. I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn’t want to write stories about me.” 

Turner’s final tug of the heartstrings comes when he delivers this line, “I’ve lost my reputation, and most of all, my life.”

Let’s get one thing straight: a man convicted of attempting to rape an unconscious woman deserves to have his reputation lost. But this is the thing; people forget about things over time. When Brock Turner gets out of prison in six months time (even less than that now), his life will probably be hard. Yet over the years things will get easier, especially since he still has the support of his parents and his friends. 


However, he is not the one who needs supporting – it is the victim. Despite the fact that most other people will forget about this case over time, the victim and her family will not. Waking up in a hospital bed with pine needles in your hair, no underwear and no recollection of what has happened to you is not something you can brush off while taking a shower. That feeling will never leave that girl. Although Turner may be feeling like he’s the own who’s lost his life, I can assure you that he has not.

Assault is assault, and if you are the type of man to push yourself on a woman who is so drunk she will not remember anything the next day – then you are the dangerous one, not the alcohol you consumed. I think the victim summed it up best in her own letter when she said, “If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realise, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.”