The unnamed woman who was sexually assaulted by Stanford student Brock Turner plans to remain anonymous, in part, she says, to make an important statement.
Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail and three years' probation, and will have to join the sex offender registry. Though his image and background have been made public, especially since he was an elite athlete, the victim has been able to remain unnamed and will continue to do so.
I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity.
But it is also a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know.
That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to.
I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me.
For now I am every woman.
Her reason for remaining anonymous highlights one of the worst aspects of rape culture: that a woman has to be flawless — or from a certain background — to be a believable victim. Through her anonymity, the woman is saying it's important that her story is understood not through the lens of who she is — her race, class, age, or other factor — but because she is a woman who went through a traumatic ordeal that so many other women have experienced.
As a nameless, faceless survivor, she represents other women who have been sexually assaulted and raped but were not afforded the benefit of the doubt because those identifying factors became public.
But why is it so difficult to believe that rape and sexual assault are as common as they are? About a fifth of all women in the United States experience rape. Meanwhile, false reports of such incidents are so rare — between 2 and 8 percent — that it is baffling that the first question about a rape accusation is whether the accuser is lying.
That question is often followed by an onslaught of queries about how the accuser may have influenced a man to assault her. As the victim in this case boldly said in her courtroom statement last week, she was asked these questions throughout the process to invalidate her integrity:
Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.
In a sign of how prevalent sexual assault is, and how many other people have had to field similar questions, this woman's anonymity reminds onlookers that she could, sadly, be anyone.