Read | Watch | Listen- Missoula

One of JB and I’s first conversations when we started dating was on our mutual love of John Krakauer. There’s something about his attention to detail and sense of adventure that completely works for both of us, and we pre-ordered his latest book once it was announced.
I, for one, don’t know much about rape culture. I have always had a wary attitude toward men I came in contact with, probably because I watched too much Unsolved Mysteries growing up and did not spend much time with the male gender until I was married. I have learned so much since being married to JB, namely that all men are not the same, especially not brutish oafs that just think about sex all the time (though this can be true, somehow I assumed all men turned out this way).
Even so, I had always perceived rape as being a “stranger” threat, someone I don’t know approaching me in a dark alleyway and to hold a knife to my throat and force me to have sex with him. I had even dreamed up ways to get out of it, too. Possibly use my unusually strong inner thighs to crush his manhood. Maybe do some ninja moves that I learned from my self defense class in college. Maybe try to disarm him with psychoanalytics and attempt to determine why exactly he felt the need to rape at this time, and remind him he has a mom and respects women.
None of this would work, apparently. The majority of rapes in this country are non-stranger, among acquaintances, and are almost impossible to prosecute.
So many of the stories in this book are heartbreaking, frustrating, and most of all— infuriating. I know that the police in this county are already under a lot of heat, but I am extremely disappointed in how the law and judicial system have been handling rape in the 21st century. Why do so many policemen not believe the victim? How do we help them to care for a victim in the best way possible? Should we encourage rape victims to not even prosecute because it will be a long, drawn-out, expensive process that will lead to no where?
I don’t know. I don’t know a solution, but I do know that something has to change, in the judicial system and in the male population of this country. Too long we have been subtly taught that “it’s her fault”, “she asked for it”, blaming it on flirtatious personalities or short skirts. But ultimately, is the problem not with the men? The men that believe they can have whatever they want, whenever they want? Men need to be taught what consent really is, how to ask about it, and that no really does mean no. Maybe our “Fifty Shades of Gray”, porn- addicted culture has taught them what “women really like”, and they see no reason to research further.

((for a funny, yet accurate depiction of what consent means, watch this video– there is some language))

Anyway, Krakauer does extensive research on different rape cases in the college town of Missoula, Montana. He covers all the angles of each case, and delves into the psychiatric ramifications of what happens during and after sexual assault. He discusses the law enforcement and university’s attitudes towards these events, and the results are heartbreaking. To have gone through such a trauma and then sent through the ringer because your assaulter happens to be a star football player and everyone thinks you are making it up for attention… I can’t even imagine.
Read this book. It is serious material, but important to educate yourself and others about this crime that affects so many.

When I heard Jon Krakauer was putting out a new book, I was clicking the pre-order button before even looking to see the subject of his reporting. I was a little surprised to find out it was about campus rape.
My father and I both read the book at about the same time (he’s the top-ranking student affairs administrator at a fairly large university) and each had the thought, “Man this campus must be the most depraved group of college males in the country.” We later found out Missoula, Montana is slightly below average in reported and estimated rapes compared to other college towns and American cities.
That terrifies me because I went to Ole Miss, a consensus top-five party school, where we never talked about acquaintance rape, rape reporting or anything having to do with the complexities of sexual relationships.
The fact that this book focuses on acquaintance rape (which is so much more common than “stranger danger” rape) made me think more and more about the way I interacted with women when I was in college. I always consider myself fairly progressive, especially when it comes to gender issues, but I always thought about men and women as equals when it comes to physical intimacy. That may be confusing that I said progressive…but…equal. Hang with me.
I’m a 6-foot-2-inch 250-pound man. I’ve been a 300-pound man and I’ve been a 200-pound man. I’ve never dated or been physically intimate with a woman who could even rival me in size. Even in cases where I was being fully open in intimate negotiations, there has to be a point where my size keeps the negotiations from being equal.
As a woman, it’s got to be scary to have a huge dude asking if he can progress further physically than you’re willing to go.
My conscience is clear but I really wish someone had talked to me and my peers about Missoula’s subject matter before/during/just after college instead of sweeping it all under the rug. I can’t imagine what it’s like being a young woman on a college campus.
Don’t let this scare you away from reading Missoula. It’s one of the best pieces of reporting I’ve read and on subject matter that needs much more attention.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s