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Prop 57 defines rape as nonviolent

Bridget O'Callahan Staff Illustrator
Bridget O’Callahan Staff Illustrator

I voted in my first election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and I was thrilled to participate. I was checking Twitter as the election returns were announced when I learned that Proposition 57, which allows parole eligibility and shortened sentences for nonviolent felons, includes rapists. I was baffled—I was furious.
Because of the way this proposition was poorly written by the state government, rape (among other crimes, such as arson) is not considered a violent crime if the victim is drugged or unconscious. As an avid feminist with a goal of promoting women’s rights and safety, my blood boiled as I thought about the men who decided that rape is ‘not that bad,’ putting Californian women in danger and perpetuating rape culture.
Although steps must be taken for these felons to be released or considered for parole, and there is no promise they will be, the mere idea of defining rape as nonviolent is the problem. A woman’s body is just that—her own body. A man taking advantage of a woman’s body without her consent, no matter the circumstances, is extremely brutal and frightening. These menaces deserve to live out their full sentences in prison, rather than inciting fear in rape victims and all women in California by being released early.
The aspect of this that makes my skin crawl the most is the fact that so many deceived Californians probably voted on this not knowing that rape fell under the category of nonviolent. “Nonviolent rape” is not a thing. It does not exist. I do not accept those words together in a phrase, because they simply don’t make sense together. I’m sure many other people who voted yes on this proposition would have felt the same way, had our state government kept us better informed and knowledgeable rather than twisting the proposition to look favorable.
The less time these felons pay for their disgusting crimes, the more normalized rape becomes in our society today. I dream of a day when women are no longer daily in danger of being sexually assaulted, let alone being blamed if something does happen to them.