Can We Please Start Taking Sexual Violence Seriously?

By Simone Hanna··  7 min read
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Can We Please Start Taking Sexual Violence Seriously?

Western culture is saturated with feminism, yet we have atrociously short sentences for rapists, pedophiles, and those who act violently against women. Why isn't sexual violence taken more seriously?

Often, we see giant threads and news stories circling mass attention over somewhat problematic but lighter situations, and while I know these things aren’t exclusive, there are issues in dire need of attention that rarely get the coverage they deserve. Sexual violence is, indeed, one of them. 

Case in Point: Brock Turner

A sexual violence case that stands out is Brock Turner’s. In 2015, Stanford University student Brock Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious woman outside a fraternity house party. In March 2016, he was found guilty of three charges: sexually assaulting an intoxicated victim, sexually assaulting an unconscious victim, and attempted rape. Despite the vile and sickening nature of his crime, Turner was only sentenced to six months in prison.

Further outrage was sparked when Turner served three months instead of six because of the Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011. This Act states that California offenders sentenced to time in county jail are entitled to cut their sentences in half if they behave.

Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail, but only served three, for sexual assault and attempted rape.

Despite public outrage, his family failed to condemn the actions and remained firmly by his side. In a letter from Brock’s father, Dan, he said his son should not have been jailed for what he called "20 minutes of action." He further said, “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” later stating that his son should receive probation, not jail time.

Brock Turner is one of many cases of violent injustices women endure. Some guilty men will never see the inside of a jail cell, meaning, in this instance, some would even brand the victim “lucky” that her abuser actually served jail time. 

Sexual Violence in the West 

It’s not just the U.S. Many Western nations face the same issue. This can be said especially of European countries still facing the devastation and abuses of grooming gangs

In the UK, grooming gangs continue to abuse children with little news coverage. In northern England especially, young girls are abused predominantly by older Asian men, which is often ignored due to social class and “fears of sparking racial tensions.” 

In one example of many cases, a Manchester man in 2019 who groomed and abused an 11-year-old girl was jailed for just 4.5 years 4.5 years for abusing a child — and while I would never condone the use of recreational drugs, it’s more than possible in the UK that you could serve more jail time for abusing drugs than a child, which is, quite frankly, abhorrent. 

In the UK, you could serve more jail time for abusing drugs than abusing a child.

For years there have been furious calls for harsher sentencing and deportations for the perpetrators of these vile crimes, yet nothing changes, and some of these men continue to walk freely on the streets. Moreover, since speaking up against grooming gangs in the UK is often branded “far-right nonsense” by those who spend their careers race-baiting in opposing politics, nothing is done in action against one of the most disgraceful injustices of our time. 

Pedophilia is rarely taken seriously in the UK. Earlier this year a man was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison after being found guilty of 50 child sex offenses. The disgust and horror of the victims’ parents are unimaginable; to give such a petty sentence is an insult to the victims, the families, and to anyone else who faces sexual violence and abuse. 

Another man was also recently jailed for just 5 years after killing his wife five days into the first UK lockdown, claiming that he had “snapped” at her in a burst of built-up anger and anxiety. 

Hashtag Activism and Feminism Ignore the Necessities 

Every day, we see post after post on cultural appropriation, body positivity, and “causal” sexism. Issues that deserve our greatest and most ardent attention are the ones that go most ignored. 

Stories with political convenience will always cultivate mass outrage. As we saw a few weeks back with the Sarah Everard murder, even when politics is irrelevant to a situation, many will use atrocities to back certain social justice movements that suit them. That being said, even when used for a feminist-driven agenda, I can’t see why feminists aren’t firmer on the topic of sexual violence. 

In time, we’ve watched the feminist movement become more of a joke to general members of the public. Too often, those who care about serious issues affecting women such as genital mutilation or violent rape gangs are left ignored and not taken seriously due to the feminist movement being tarnished by a select few who seem eager to vandalize it. 

If feminists focused on serious topics like sexual violence, they might appeal to a wider audience.

Today, a lot of the so-called “feminism” we see displayed in the media comes from aggressive “SJWs”, eager to find offense and overreact to the smallest of things. Sometimes this includes myths surrounding “toxic masculinity” or insulting males to the point of demonization.

Without the ugly nature of hashtag activism and reactionary movements, modern feminism might be taken more seriously. If feminists focused on serious topics rather than pushing radical body positivity and other meaningless agendas, they might appeal to wider groups in society. Many feminists in this era are so eager to get women into the workplace that they look down upon those who wish to continue living more traditional, family-focused lives, further making feminism less attractive to those who hold conservative politics and shrinking their pool of support. 

The movement is unattractive and unappealing to many – pushing people away from issues behind the scenes that really do deserve action and reform. If feminists made feminism for all women again, topics such as sexual violence could be discussed in a more dignified manner, to the point where something useful could be achieved.   

Have We Diluted the Definition of Rape?

A wider issue I have long kept my eyes on has been how society defines “sexual assault.” Over the years, we have watched the #MeToo movement take center stage. And, while I’d in no way deny the importance of movements against sexual abuse, over time, we’ve seen things such as catcalling lumped under the definition of “sexual assault.” 

Though catcalling is undeniably demeaning and uncomfortable, it’s incomparable to a physical sexual attack. By lumping the two together, sexual assault – and even rape – have been taken less seriously and have been diluted in view. Sexual assault and rape are serious crimes, and perpetrators should be punished to the highest extent. 

Lumping catcalling and sexual assault together dilutes the seriousness of a physical sexual attack.

We often tell people to “speak out,” and they should, but over time the definition of rape has been cheapened by those who abuse it, often belittling such a hefty crime. Verbal street harassment is uncouth and vulgar, but it will never come close to the sickening act of rape. One deserves condemnation, and the other should see a life sentence.

Closing Thoughts

Sexual violence, along with abuse against women and children, is disturbingly common, especially in such a developed age. For many situations that lack wider acknowledgment, the issue is not that some voices are unspoken, the issue is that some voices are much louder, leaving others unheard. Too often we dominate, disregard, and diminish the stories that deserve the most coverage. Of course, in a perfect world, there would be the opportunity to cover all issues, but some troubles deserve our full care and attention, sometimes to a heavier extent. 

Modern activism is high, it’s about time sentencing was too. 

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