"Now, should we treat women as independent agents, responsible
for themselves? Of course. But being responsible has nothing to do
with being raped. Women don't get raped because they were drinking or
took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren't careful
enough. Women get raped because someone raped them."
If you haven't been spending the summer up in the unincorporated
territories you've probably heard about the trial of a Stanford
student athlete. He raped an unconscious woman. There was no doubt;
he was caught in the act. The guy got a miniscule sentence for an act
of violence. His doting dad said Sonny Boy shouldn't be punished too
harshly for "twenty minutes of action." Sadly Stanford is not the only
place in America that did not get the memo that women are fully
sentient beings with the rights to respect and safety. Jon Krakauer's
Missoula: Rape And The Justice System In A College Town vividly
describes more of this kind of incident.
A much believed rape myth says that the villain is a stranger
lurking in a dark alley. Actually most rapists are well known to
their victims. Some are people they have every reason to trust. In
college this can translate to classmates, dates, and friends.
Another myth states that rape charges are often concocted by
women. Maybe there's morning after regret. Maybe the experience
didn't live up to expectations. Maybe there's a boyfriend who might
be bent out of shape by the thought she'd cheat on him. But oops, she
did it again...ruined the life of a fine young man. Unlike victims of
other violent crimes, women who are raped are often treated with more
suspicion than their assailants, denied justice by district attorneys
refusing to prosecute, and crucified in the court of public
opinion...especially when the perps are talented athletes.
In Missoula, Krakauer gives us very personal portraits of women
in a college town who were violated by football players and the legal
system. Their accounts were suspected in a way allegations of other
victims aren't. In fact fans of the college football team thought
they were the villains.
Krakauer started the research for Missoula after learning a
friend had suffered for years as a result of sexual assault. Then his
work became even more personal.
"As the scope of my research expanded, I was stunned to discover
that many of my acquaintances, and even several women in my own
family, had been sexually assaulted by men they trusted. The more I
listened to these women's accounts, the more disturbed I became. I
had no idea that rape was so prevalent, or could cause such deep and
intractable pain. My ignorance was inexcusable, and it made me
When it comes to rape, ignorance is a luxury we really can't
afford. Reading Missoula is a good first step to take in combatting
On a personal note, this book was very personal for me. I started
reading it right after my latest opinion piece was in the Bangor Daily
News. I wrote it as a response to the Stanford rapist's dad
describing the act as twenty minutes of action. I wrote about how I
had suffered for decades because of a similar twenty minutes of
action. The piece was very well received.
A great big shout out goes out to my very supportive editor, Matt, and
the readers who had so many kind things to say.
Sent from my iPod