When the famous Rolling Stone article about the epidemic of rape on colleges campuses was published last year I was…happy isn’t the right word. Relieved, maybe. Relieved that a popular magazine was talking about this. Relieved that these women were given a megaphone to yell about something that people didn’t want to hear.
So when it came out that Rolling Stone was retracting its article thanks to lazy journalistic standards, it was a little devastating. Now the doubters and trolls who screeched that women who report rape are a bunch of lying liars had fresh ammunition.
Jon Krakauer’s “Missoula” is the antidote to the article. Meticulously researched, it focused on the University of Montana, the local police and the prosecutor’s office through the eyes of five women who reported rapes or attempted rapes between 2010 and 2012. It’s a tough read, as each of these women report the same depressing details about cops reassuring the accused while rattling off some bullshit statistics about false rape claims to the actual victims. One district attorney (who was supposed to be prosecuting criminals) testified for an alleged rapist at his university hearing. She later left the prosecutor’s office and successfully defended another in his rape trial. During the trial, she accused the victim of crying rape because the defendant didn’t want a relationship with her.
The book mostly focuses on the University’s beloved football team-the Grizzlies. More than one of the women in the book was raped by a member of the team. And while they were trying to come to terms with what happened, they also had to deal with a football-crazy community that knew they were the ones who got their boys into trouble. One woman was kicked out of a popular bar because the bartender recognized her (just to clarify, this woman’s name was never published. Word had just spread). As she left other Grizzlies fans followed her out, calling her a liar. Other victims had to deal with people harassing them on Facebook.
It’s a pretty tough book to read because most of these victims stories are depressingly similar. Before the book was published, Jezebel published an article called “My Weekend in America’s So-Called ‘Rape Capital'”(http://jezebel.com/5908472/my-weekend-in-americas-so-called-rape-capital). Missoulans said this was unfair. Krakauer points out they’re right:
“Rather than being the nation’s rape capital, Missoula had an incidence of sexual assault [in 2010] that was in fact slightly less than the national average. That’s the real scandal.”