Brock Turner isn’t actually a rapist

You will have heard about Brock Turner, “the Stanford rapist”. You will have seen his face plastered all over the Internet.  You will probably have read the shameful plea for a lenient sentence by his father. You will have read the victim’s letter.

I hope you have read the victim’s letter.  If you haven’t, please, whatever your situation, your sex, your background or your beliefs, please read it here.  It is the strongest and most courageous testimony you will ever read. 

You will know all about “the Stanford rapist”: the “promising” swimmer who sexually assaulted an intoxicated and unconscious young woman behind a dumpster truck leaving abrasions, bruising and mud inside her vagina.


You will probably be outraged at the leniency of the six month sentence passed down to Brock.  On good behaviour, and I’ve no doubt it’ll be exemplary, he will serve three months – just enough time for the media frenzy to settle so that he can start his life afresh. 

His victim will never be able to start her life afresh.  The physical scars will heal – I am sure they already have.  But the emotional and psychological scars will always travel with her.  They will define her.

What you won’t have stopped to consider is that in the eyes of Californian state law, Brock Turner isn’t actually a rapist. Californian state law defines rape as penetration by the penis.  Brock Turner didn’t penetrate with his penis, he penetrated with his fingers and foreign objects.   He did not rape his victim. 

Under English law, Brock wouldn’t be classified as a rapist either. 

Did Brock think that his actions were less severe because he did not insert his penis? 

Did Brock think that his actions were excusable because he did not insert his penis? 

Whether he inserted his penis or not, the impact for the victim is the same.  The victim’s sexual organ was penetrated. This phallo-centric definition of rape underplays the seriousness of other forms of penetrative sexual assault. 

Is murder a lesser crime if committed by strangulation rather than using a weapon such as a gun or a knife?  No, it isn’t, because the impact on the victim is the same.   

The definition of rape should relate to the impact on the victim rather than the method used by the perpetrator.   

In Qatar

Brock’s is not the only outrageous rape case that has incensed me this week.   

In Qatar a Dutch woman was convicted for being raped.  Yes, read that again.  I had to re-read the sentence when I first discovered the news article. A woman was convicted for being raped.  She was handed a suspended sentence, fined the equivalent of £580 and will be deported. 

The 22 year old woman had her drink spiked in a  Doha hotel in March.  She woke up in a stranger’s flat and realised she had been raped. 

Her attacker was sentenced to 100 lashes for having sex outside of marriage.   He claimed the sex was consensual.  Her lawyers would have had to prove that there had been no voluntary actions between her and the man for him to have been charged with rape. This clearly was never going to be possible because her drink had been spiked.  She cannot remember any of it. She was convicted for consensual sex outside of marriage.

I am, going to finish on a marginally lighter note and share with you Thames Valley Police’s educational video on sexual consent. 

Only the British would use tea! 


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  1. June 17, 2016 / 11:56 am

    Great post. These cases show how far we still have to go in destroying the rape culture that pervades our society. The case in Qatar is horrifying. #brillblogposts

    • thesingleswan
      June 17, 2016 / 7:57 pm

      True! thank you for your comment. Pen x

  2. June 19, 2016 / 1:13 am

    I love that tea clip – we’ve had discussions on that. I think the younger generation will be more savvy than ours. Laws rarely favour women.
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…What freaks me out…My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:33 pm

      I hope that the younger generation will be more savvy than ours and that they will change the law for starters. Pen

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:29 pm

      It’s great isn’t it. So much respect for Thames Valley Police!

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:32 pm

      Yes, it’s great isn’t it. Pen

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:28 pm

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Pen

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:32 pm

      It’s brilliant isn’t it. I have a lot of respect for Thames Valley Police now. Pen

  3. June 19, 2016 / 10:51 pm

    Wow I don’t even know where to begin…. Re: Brock Turner, that poor woman I cannot believe that he has been sentenced to a mere 6 months. The victims statement was so powerful no wonder it went viral.

    At for this Qatar incident that is just ridiculous!!

    Thank so much for linking up to #KCACOLS Pen. Another thought provoking post. Xx
    Maria recently posted…Things to do in Battersea with childrenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:28 pm

      My pleasure Maria. Thank you for reading and for your comment. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:30 pm

      Thanks Maria for your comment. Much appreciated. Pen

  4. June 20, 2016 / 1:56 am

    For how far society has come on so many issues, it’s absurd and scary as a father of girls, that attitudes towards rape and consent really still have so far to go. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:27 pm

      Indeed! Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. Pen

  5. June 20, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    I spent a few years volunteering at a psychology research lab dedicated to ending violence against women, and one of our larger projects focused on observing the rape scripts presented on social media (mostly reddit). During that time, we gathered each state’s legal definition of rape, and just… holy shit, was it ever depressing. Among the major flaws you discussed in your post, in most states, it’s considered impossible for a woman to rape a man, which, as we all know, is ridiculous.
    Everything about Brock Turner’s situation disgusts me. Everything about my country’s justice system’s response disgusts me.
    That being said, I do find your British tea consent video to be absolutely darling.
    Mwah, Pen!
    Bekah Rigby recently posted…10 Reasons the Stargate Series is Better Than Your Stupid Game of ThronesMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:26 pm


      Great to see you back here. Your research work sounds fascinating and worthy if very depressing and, I hate to say it, fruitless. I am glad you enjoyed Tea and Consent though – it makes perfect sense to me. Pen x

  6. June 20, 2016 / 8:49 pm

    Wow that’s powerful post, but still important that such an issue is raised. I read about this woman in Dubai. I mean what world are we living in?! No wonder why some victims never go to the police …

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:23 pm

      Thanks. I am glad you found the post useful. Pen

    • thesingleswan
      June 21, 2016 / 10:22 pm

      My pleasure. I am glad that you enjoyed the post. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      June 22, 2016 / 8:26 pm

      I am glad you enjoyed it. thank you for your comment. Pen x

  7. June 29, 2016 / 6:01 pm

    Wow, that’s really quite a powerful post. I actually haven’t read that much about this case, but find it really shocking that, on a technicality, he’s not a rapist. His act almost sounds more violent to me, I can’t begin to imagine the impact it will have had on his victim. On a lighter note, that video really is great! x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…Living arrows 26/52My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 29, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      Thanks Madeline. Pen x

  8. July 1, 2016 / 3:10 pm

    What kind of a world do we live in – it scares me it really does. I agree with you, the definition of rape needs to be looked at – such a horrendous crime and such a lenient sentence. I can’t even form a coherent thought about the Qatar case.
    I do really like the video – it explains it so well! #KCACOLS
    Jenni – Odd Socks and Lollipops recently posted…Ten Things I’ve Loved – JuneMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 2, 2016 / 8:20 pm

      thanks Jenni, Yes, I agree, it really does. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  9. July 1, 2016 / 5:48 pm

    Legally he might not be, but I’m glad the word will be associated with him for all time. #KCACOLS
    sarah recently posted…A Month In Review – JuneMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 2, 2016 / 8:19 pm

      Yes, me too. Pen x

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