If you haven’t heard about the Stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious woman, you’re living under a rock. As if his crime wasn’t bad enough, the judge presiding over his case gave him only six months in jail when the maximum sentence is 14 years — all because he thought jail would impact the rapist’s life too greatly. If you’re scratching your head at this ridiculous ruling, you’re not alone. If you aren’t entirely infuriated yet, then you haven’t read the rapist’s dad’s letter to the court. In a nutshell, the father is asking for no jail time because his son is so devastated by the negative attention that he’s lost his appetite.
The internet is ablaze with condemnation for all three of these men, and rightly so. The act was heinous and the downplaying of the crime in addition to the lack of accountability is nothing short of disgusting. There’s a great deal to be angry about today, and there are lots of open letters flying around the web addressing the white male privilege and how we need to do better educating our children about rape culture and consent. There’s one thing, however, that no one seems to be talking about: the two men who stopped the rape.
Too often we see videos uploaded to Facebook of someone beating someone else while bystanders stand and watch. Sometimes it’s animal abuse or something horrible happening to a child. It happens every day. It’s not that frequent where we actually hear about a story instead of watching it because someone took action instead of taking out their camera. If it weren’t for these two men, it’s likely that no one would have even known about the rape in the first place.
I can’t argue with anyone who thinks we need to educate our boys and our girls about rape culture. I can’t argue with anyone who thinks we need both genders to fully understand what consent means. I can’t argue with anyone who thinks we need to bring our boys up to respect women and our girls to expect that respect for themselves and accept nothing less. What I’d like to add to the conversation, however, is that we need to raise our children to take action instead of being bystanders.
Our children are growing up seeing the worst of the worst thanks to mass media that can easily project stories far and wide. I firmly believe there’s no more or less crime and horror in our world than there was 100 years ago, it’s just that we’re able to see it all now much more clearly than ever before. It won’t be hard for our kids to become discouraged or disenchanted with the world that we live in. I’m already sick of it, why shouldn’t they be too? However, it’s not enough to teach our children not to be assholes; they need to have the personal strength of character to stand up for what is right too.
Let’s definitely teach our young ones right and wrong, let’s teach them to respect one another and their bodies. Let’s teach them to be good people. But let’s also teach them that it’s not enough to do the right thing for yourself, you also need to be willing to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Only then will we have raised a generation of people who can make this world a better place.