The Ultimate Mama-Bear: Michele Dauber’s campaign to recall Aaron Persky and the link between college assault and sexism in tech
Many of us were horrified reading about the details of the Brock Turner rape case, where an elite Stanford swimmer was convicted of three felony sex offenses, including assault with intent to commit rape, and was sentenced to just six months in prison-- well below the minimum sentence of two years.
The victim’s statement was so powerful, it was even read in its entirety live on CNN. While many of us just sat there outraged, Stanford professor Michele Dauber went to work. She’s been the leader of the campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky. It’s an ambitious effort that requires $1 million of funding-- half of that just to get it on the ballot next year. She is holding a fundraiser in Silicon Valley this Thursday to help the cause.
This fight is personal for Dauber. Not only was the victim a friend of her daughter’s, but she has devoted her career to trying to make campuses safer for women, by urging them to come forward. Finally, here was a case with a “perfect victim.” There were witnesses, she cooperated fully with authorities, she submitted to cross-examination. He was convicted. And Persky effectively sent the message to women that even in a “perfect” case, justice wouldn’t be done.
Dauber has raised north of $300,000 largely coming in small chunks from millennial women who believe this story is also their story...or easily could have been.
I asked Dauber to come on my “Uterus is a Feature not a Bug” podcast, because it’s hard to imagine someone who embodies the strength, fearlessness, and protective instinct of mothers as much as she does now leading a campaign that a lot of people probably just wish would go away.
We not only discuss what motivated her to take on this fight-- and how you can help support it-- but the link between what happens on Stanford campuses and what plays out later in Silicon Valley. She sees young women arriving on campus, thrilled to go into engineering and build a startup, only to become victims of assault. They spend their time with grief counselors, while boys in school spend time networking in the community, she says. Is it any wonder they start to feel uncomfortable in a male dominated industry?
More disturbing: The similarities between what she sees on campuses to discredit the victims of assault and what we’ve heard out of the mouths of Uber execs about women who get assaulted in their cars. It’s hard to be horrified with one, but just fine with the other.