Since the news hit about Brock Turner considering a speaking tour on “drinking and promiscuity,” the internet has been up in arms, and rightly so. The idea of a convicted sexual assault offender using his very defense to avoid accountability to tell young college women how to behave seems like some kind of sick joke. And his lack of remorse makes it a billion times worse.
On the other hand, I’m not surprised he might pursue a speaking career. Unaccountable rapists have been shaping the public arena for years; they direct our favorite movies, star in our beloved television shows — hell, our Republican presidential candidate may even be one.
Plus, Brock Turner has every right to pitch a speaking tour to college campuses. The good news is that college campuses also have the right to say no. Especially since there’s plenty of other talented speakers out there who are not, you know, unaccountable rapists. Here are just a few speakers that colleges could (and should) give the mic to instead of Brock:
Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki is an anti-rape activist who works tirelessly to dismantle rape culture and the terrible policies existing on college campuses. Her own sexual assault and subsequent expelling from Tufts College, who failed to hold her rapist fully accountable, largely sparked her activism. Her most recent endeavor is Survivors Eradicating Rape Culture, whose mission is to center the needs of the most marginalized survivors “to change cultural norms and stop gender-based violence before it happens.”
Tony Porter is and the founder of A Call To Men, a violence intervention organization that educates young men on issues of masculinity, male socialization, and its intersection with violence, in an effort to prevent violence against women and girls. His TED Talk has received over 2 million views. (In other words, Brock really could have used this guy.)
Annie E. Clark & Andrea Pino are the co-founders of End Rape On Campus, an organization that provides support for survivors, and advocates to create both campus policies and legislation on the local and federal level to address sexual assault and dating violence. They also helped write the bi-partisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act, a bill pending in Congress that would reform the sexual assault investigation process on college campuses.
Alexandra Brodsky is the co-founder and current Board Chair of Know Your Title IX, a survivor- and youth-led organization that focuses on empowering students to end sexual and dating violence in their schools. They’re unique to other efforts in that they draw on Title IX as an alternative to the criminal justice system, as it “is more just and responsive to the educational, emotional, financial, and stigmatic harms of violence.”
Shaka Senghor went to prison over two decades ago for second-degree murder. By sharing the most painful parts of his story, and taking ownership of the crime he committed, he’s a striking reminder of the power of our humanity. Today, he’s working actively to reform the criminal justice system. (His TED Talk is also worth watching, garnering over 1.3 million views.) In short, formerly incarcerated people have a lot to contribute to the public conversation — especially those with integrity like Shaka. (Take note, Brock.)
So, campus event coordinators, if Brock Turner asks you for the podium, think about the hundreds of other experts out there who can speak to these kinds of issues with authenticity and honesty — and are not, you know, unaccountable rapists.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on the author’s own Medium page and has been republished on ThinkProgress with her permission.