I know you love your son; most certainly as fiercely as I do mine. But your infamous letter to the Court requesting leniency for your son was both a moral failure and a parental one. As vile as your words were, I needed to find some good that could come from them. It took time, but eventually I felt empowered by your words and my feminism felt validated. And now I want you to know why.
Reading your words made me feel grief like a 2×4 to my stomach. And then I felt anger, like a follow-up blow to my head, toward a society that encourages brutality against women. I was heartbroken to learn that your family’s misogynist values are more common than I knew. Your story is not unique, but it is one of the most public. And your story guided me to courage to stand in my truth steadfastly.
The courage of the woman who survived your son’s violence is staggering. I refuse to call her his victim. She is a survivor of his violence. She has shown the world her power through her words, and your words can never take that from her.
I was sad for all victims of sexual violence being forced to relive their nightmares as they listened to the story of your son, your words that revealed your ultimate culpability, and the survivor’s gut-wrenching story.
In talking to my friends, we empathized with her family who must have been wounded so deeply by your son’s violence and your despicable plea that your son not be jailed because it would be”a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.“
I was surprised by the pity I felt for your family. I was saddened that Brock did not learn the values of real men. I wondered whether you attempted to teach your son the value and humanity of women.
Mostly, I was furious that you and yours wrapped your him in a secure blanket of entitlement so that he felt he could shove his hand inside of a stranger as she lay unconscious in the filth next to a dumpster.
My friends and I marveled that you did not encourage your son to accept responsibility for his behavior. But I understand now that one cannot instill values one does not possess.
In the aftermath, I began to search for some shred of hope within your letter. As I was writing one morning, I found a post that I had been so afraid to publish over a year before. I was afraid to publish the post because it contained the term “rape culture.” Rape culture seemed so impossible to me; so “out there;” so… “conspiracy-theory-esque.” It doesn’t seem so “out there” anymore.
Your words claiming that jail time “would be a steep price to pay for twenty minutes of action” have empowered me to speak the truth: we live in a rape culture. Your words have made rape culture undeniable for the masses.
The term rape culture can no longer be marginalized, denied, or blamed on stereotypes of lesbian feminists with hairy pits who live off grid in the woods eating nuts and berries with twenty cats. (no judgment from me!) No. You’ve shown us that rape culture is real and undeniable. And, Dan Turner, you’ve given rape culture a face.
Now that I can speak the words “rape culture,” I can begin to ferret out those whose values resemble your own. Now I can talk out and let you know that your values are not acceptable in decent society.
But, you don’t look like the monster I expected.
What’s terrifying is that you appear just like the guy next door; like the cool dad hosting playdates for our little girls. You seem friendly and unassuming nestled into our communities, coaching our children, or sitting next to us in church. You and the rape culture you perpetuate joyfully send your young men off to school dances with our young women, and you send them to run amuck on college campuses.
You’ve validated something that I knew was true all along. Now I know that rape culture is both rampant and robust in our country, even as many don’t recognize it. As the mother of boys, I will do all I can to instill in them the values of vibrant, honorable, and understanding men.
So many people, including myself, have grown through reading your words, and I now realize that I will no longer require validation from you or anyone to speak my truth.
I am grasping this moment to inspire me to speak my truth authentically. Girls can’t get raped if boys aren’t raping. So let’s teach our boys not to rape.
So, thank you, Dan Turner. Your letter instantly set the internet on fire with rage, but it has also shone a light under the rock of rape culture. Your letter has empowered me never to be afraid to speak the words “rape culture.” Your letter has taught me that I don’t ever want to seek validation from anyone to boldly tell the truth.
I want to raise my sons to be as heroic as the helpers who stopped your son. Your letter has shown me that is not enough to raise “nice” men. We must be teaching boys not to rape. By all outward appearances, Brock was a “nice” boy. Unfortunately, for Brock’s survivor, your love and all that you gave him was not enough to protect her.