I've been thinking a lot about systemic abuse over the last few days—and two stories in particular.
The first being the Stanford Rape case and the incredibly powerful and moving victim impact statement that's gone viral around the world. It's a deeply troubling story and such a brave piece of writing. That Brock Turner's sentence is so light, that his wellbeing seems to have been the judge's main consideration over anyone else's, is endemic of a system of white, male privilege. And it fills me with fury.
Victims of abuse can't speak up when their predators take advantage of two things: the beautiful dreams inside of them and a complicit, broken system.
Two things particularly stand out to me in these shocking stories:
- That the media outlet initially reporting on the Stanford Rape published Brock Turner's swimming times at the bottom of their article—it's completely foul and so irrelevant.
- That Darrell Cox and Profiles Theatre were celebrated for their productions of plays about angry and often violent men, and that the habitual programming of these plays was never questioned. (One critic has since reflected on his own culpability in not interrogating the drama playing out before him.)
For me, looking at both cases, it drives home the importance of the stories we tell.
The Stanford Rape victim's impact statement—and I hate referring to her as a "victim" because she is clearly so much more than the acts of violence perpetrated against her—has become something for people to rally behind. She has changed the narrative—hopefully for good—and she has done so with the power of her words and courage in the face of unthinkable atrocity.
And the Profiles Theatre story, for me, drives home the notion that we should constantly question the stories we tell, the stories we consume—what contribution are they making to society, and what deeper evil may they be hiding?
Both stories have caused me to further question my own story—how it speaks to current, very real issues, and the effect it might have. This self-examination is uncomfortable and unsettling—but so it should be.