Bree McKenna, of the feminist pop punk band TacocaT, has written a thought provoking opinion piece about the letter Leslie Rasmussen wrote to the court in defense of the character of her childhood friend, Stanford rapist Brock Turner, and the backlash against Rasmussen’s band, Good English. However, I was brought up a bit short when I read:
“I would like to make it abundantly clear that her statements offend, confuse and disgust me, especially coming from another woman . . . “
Variations on that phrase, “especially from a woman,” have come up a lot in regard to Rasmussen’s letter. Sadly, this response is understandable, but is it really any worse for a woman to attempt to dismiss a rapist’s guilt and shame the victim? Would the same words be any better coming from a man? Were they any less disgusting coming from Brock Turner’s father?
Doesn’t holding women to a stricter standard play into the noxious idea that rape is just women’s problem, not everyone’s problem? I don’t mean that only in the sense that men are victims of rape too, but also in the sense that a violent crime against any individual should appall us all equally, regardless of gender. Doesn’t our finding it harder to understand a woman’s seeming lack of empathy with a rape victim reinforce the assumption and even acceptance of men’s indifference (as well as playing into longstanding stereotypes and hegemonic ideals that women are naturally more emotional than men)?
Emma Watson’s speech for the #HeForShe campaign simply proposed that true gender equality cannot happen without men’s embrace (and that men are also restricted by gender ideals):
This idea should have been met with a shrugged “but of course.” Instead, it drew death threats.
Nothing will change until everyone is equally appalled by violations like these.