After I finished reading the statement of the woman assaulted by 20-year-old Brock Turner at Stanford University in 2015, I cried. I scooped up my 4-month-old daughter, who was lying on her playmat talking baby gibberish, held her tight and cried into her tiny neck.
I cried for the woman who woke up in the hospital to find her underwear missing and pine needles in her hair. I cried for the victim's younger sister, who will unfortunately live with the guilt of leaving her older sister alone at a frat party--a burden she shouldn't have to carry, a precaution women shouldn't have to take.
And I cried for my own little girl, who could, God forbid, one day be in a similar situation as this young woman.
Emotions have been running high recently because Turner was finally sentenced on Thursday after being convicted of three felony charges (assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object) in late March. Judge Aaron Perksy gave this predator six months in jail. Six MONTHS. His reasoning was Turner's age and lack of criminal history. “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him," Perksy opined. "I think he will not be a danger to others.”
The message this preposterously short sentence sends is gut-wrenchingly clear: a woman's body has far less value than a young white man's future.
Sometimes, I find myself holding onto my daughter tightly when I carry her. One hand squeezes her chunky leg a little too hard, and when I notice, I immediately loosen my grip. Maybe subconsciously I'm scared to death of accidentally dropping her or hurting her in some way. She's the most precious thing in my life. I want nothing more than to love and protect her.
But how can I do that when people like Brock Turner and his father exist--both who have refused to own up to the seriousness of the younger Turner's actions.
How can I send my precious, sweet girl, who will one day grow up to be a beautiful, young woman of color, into this world knowing it doesn't assign her half the value it does a young white man with a "promising" future?