The case of Chanel Miller (formerly known as Emily Doe) became famous in 2016 after BuzzFeed published the statement she read at the sentencing hearing for Brock Turner, the Stanford student convicted of the assault. Four years after the publication of the statement, Miller is ready to talk. In her memoir “Know My Name”, she explains her life before and after the assault and raises questions on how victimhood should be defined. Miller’s statement and Turner’s sentence have become part of an ongoing debate about rape, sexism and sexual misconduct, including the #MeToo Movement.
The #MeToo Movement Explained
The Me Too movement (often referred to as #MeToo) is a collective effort against sexual harassment organised primarily through social media. The movement traces its roots back to 2006 when American social activist Tarana Burke began using the phrase “me too” on the Myspace social network to highlight the occurrence of sexual harassment. Later, in 2017, the movement was popularised when multiple high-profile actresses opened up about their experiences with sexual harassment in the film industry. Since then, the movement has spread to other languages and has had an impact on statehouses and courts.
The movement aims to empower through the use of empathy. It encourages victims to open up and tell their experiences on sexual harassment and hopes that, by increasing awareness on sexual harassment, tolerance for it will decrease and support for victims will rise.
The Case of Emily Doe
On January 18th 2015, Miller was spotted by two graduate students at Stanford University lying unconscious on the ground with another Stanford student, Brock Turner, on top of her. Earlier that evening she had agreed to accompany her younger sister to a fraternity party at Stanford University. By the early hours of the morning, Miller was in the hospital and Brock Turner was in custody. A year later, Turner was sentenced to six months in Santa Clara County jail after a jury in Palo Alto convicted him of three charges of felony sexual assault. He was released in 2016 after three months and later unsuccessfully tried to appeal his conviction.
Miller’s victim impact statement to the court was widely spread by international media outlets and triggered widespread criticism of the sentence given by Judge Persky, who was recalled by county voters in 2018. Furthermore, the case influenced the California legislature to impose minimum sentences in sexual assault cases.
Chanel Miller on “Know My Name”
Miller credited the #MeToo movement and the many people coming forward as “the reason why I feel like I can come out now.” She began working on her book in 2017, and since then the memoir has developed as the debate on sexual violence has expanded. In a way, writing the book allowed her to fully understand what happened the night she was assaulted. The cover of the book, a dark teal background with thin streaks of gold across its surface, is inspired in the Japanese art of kintsugi – repairing broken pottery pieces without concealing the cracks using lacquer and powdered gold.
In September 2019, Miller relinquished her anonymity and released her book “Know My Name: A Memoir” in which she discusses the assault, trial, and aftermath. On Wednesday 26th of February, she will be interviewed by Room for Discussion, where she will present her book and discuss, among other topics, how to reclaim power when it comes to sexual assault.
We hope to see you there!