Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Making of Brock Turner

Brock Turner is Donald Trump. A poor example of the kind of person we hope our young men will become. Spoiled, entitled and crass. Not someone who, to say the least, treats women with respect. In denial about the kind of person—I am not willing to say a man—he is. 

The Republican establishment is horrified that Donald Trump is their nominee. Their’s is a disingenuous revulsion. They got what they encouraged. They created the conditions of bigotry, sexism and aristocratic entitlement that gave rise to his political ascension as surely as if they had sent him off to terrorist training camp. 

Just as Donald Trump was suckled on the xenophobia and misogyny tolerated by his party, Brock Turner was nurtured by a culture that indulges and exploits portraying women as the rightful province of men.

Women are marketed as possessions of men. In seductive ads for jewelry, purses and perfume, they wear nearly nothing, while the men remain fully dressed. The women are submitting. They are being bought for the price of a handbag. The men don’t even have to remove their jackets.

In a train station I just passed through, a huge Armani poster shows a sensuous young woman—she might be sixteen or seventeen—alone, looking directly into the camera with defiant provocativeness. “You don't deserve even to look at me,” she seems to be thinking. “Not unless you’re man enough.”

A study in 2011 by sociologists at the University of Buffalo found that “the portrayal of women in the popular media over the last several decades has become increasingly sexualized, even ‘pornified.’” A 2014 study by Dr. Linda Papadopoulos found that viewing sexually objectifying images of women in mainstream media increases acceptance of violence towards women. 

Whatever their parents are telling them, the broader culture is saying to young men and women that women are for sex. 

When they go off to college, young men and women are invited to fraternity parties (like the one where Brock Turner met his victim) that are too often alcohol-soaked, testosterone-spiked venues for sex trolling. This is not an environment that is emotionally healthy for young men and women out on their own for the first time. Just the opposite. 

A 2009 study in the journal of student affairs professionals found that fraternity members are almost twice as likely to binge drink as non-members. A 2007 study by the same group reported that fraternity members are three times more likely to commit rape than non-members.

If we want our young men not to grow up like Brock Turner, we have to show them the proper way to treat women. We have to speak out against the objectification of women in advertising and in institutions like college fraternities. If we do not, just as Republicans must acknowledge their role in creating their frankenstein, we must accept our share of responsibility for the sexual aggression and abuse of women our culture breeds.

Individually, we are responsible for our actions. Collectively, we are liable for our silence.

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