I read your book “Know My Name” and acknowledge that I am part of the problem. In your book, you mention about Trump and his “grab ‘em by the pussy” outburst, though I think the bigger problem is Billy Bush. Billy Bush was the guy listening and laughing along with Trump in that infamous video and months later, Billy Bush said he didn’t agree or condone with any of Trump’s “locker room talk” but felt it was impolite to say something about it at the time. Well, society is full of Billy Bushes. Men, women, all contributing to a rape culture by not engaging its advocates.
People like me will learn from your book.
We all know that rape is wrong, but it’s not enough. Along with murder, kidnapping, child pornography and human trafficking, rape is unfortunately part of society’s vernacular. People say things like “The Patriots just raped the Dolphins last Sunday!” This is because knowing rape is wrong and emphasizing rape is wrong are two different things. I loved how your book approached itself as an introduction to you as a person. You saw things as a writer: make the readers care about the character and anything that happens to the character suddenly has weight. We didn’t need to learn any more about Emily Doe. Emily Doe is a mannequin. Knowing Chanel, relating to her as a human being, regardless of gender, instills the question: What if this was me?
The people who let things slide, the Billy Bushes, we were the first line of defense. It should not have come down to the Swedes or your district attorney or even you having to write your book in the aftermath to tell us that we should’ve done our job. But it’s a fucked up world. Society learns backwards. I know you’re constantly emphasizing that Brock’s actions are his alone and that the legal system needs to be fixed and I don’t disagree with any of that, though anyone with a soul who’ve read your book will also ask “what can I do to stop rape now that I’ve seen it through the eyes of a victim?” That’s the question few have asked before they knew you; thanks to your book, many more have asked. I, being one of them.
As a man, I can tell you that I’ve met many Brock Turners. They’re not always as privileged as him, as popular, or as powerful, but even if I hear it from a janitor when he openly fantasizes about raping a maid, I need to be the voice in a room of high-fiving men to say “hey, you shouldn’t be glorifying that. That’s not cool.” Some of the guys (or girls) in that party you attended, the ones who saw Brock making a fool of himself, grinding women, forcing himself on them, these people should’ve grabbed him, told him to stop or at the very least kept an eye on him if he had followed a drunken woman down a dumpster corner. We failed you and every person who’ve been sexually assaulted.
You, on the other hand, are an amazing writer. You are doing our jobs for us, waking up society, making us emphasize with sexually assaulted victims. I have read few modern biographies as well-written as yours. The day they make a movie from this (and you know they will), the screenwriters should thank their lucky stars on how easy you’ve made their lives by putting all these storytelling visuals on their lap. You’ve made us like you; you’ve made us know you. You’ve made us become you.
P.S. The Asian-American community have embraced your book for a lot of the wrong reasons, mostly because you’re Asian. It’s very important and responsible for us to emphasize that very little of your book attributes to race. Most articles from the Asian community have taken your book and expanded it to their specific Asian-related agenda, making it seem like “Know My Name” is about their cause. This gross exploitation of your tragedy disgusts me and leads me to believe that if you hadn’t been Asian, we wouldn’t have given you the time of day. That being said, I feel that there’s a racial element to your experience that was greatly minimized. When you say Brock Turner is privileged, we know you mean he had privilege being a popular athlete and a man, but I wish you had also directly said he had white privilege too. Statistics do say that Asian-American women are more targeted for sexual assault and perhaps it would mean a lot for our community if you’d brought that up. If I were to guess, I’d wager you don’t disagree with those things and you can understand why I felt disappointed that race was barely mentioned in your book. You’re an outstanding talent, your writing jumps on the page and you’ve made something inspirational out of a horrible tragedy. I hope in follow-up articles or interviews given by you will address more of your opinions on how being Asian contributed to what happened to you. I didn’t like how people in my community spoke for you and twisted your words to fit their cause. Clarifying your experience with race will help squash their demagoguery and speculations.