Jon Krakauer’s Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a Small Town uncovers the staggering mistreatment of University of Montana rape victims by the Missoula, Montana justice system. Stranger rape is an easy issue to talk about, as the lines between right and wrong are clear. Acquaintance rape, especially when a party is also too inebriated to give consent or consent seems unclear–this is where college rape culture lies, and this is where Jon Krakauer finds himself investigating. Men who can’t recall exactly what happened because they drank so much, women who awoke from a blackout with someone on top of them.
What shocked me most was the varying treatment Krakauer chronicles between victim and assailant by law enforcement. As women are immediately challenged about their claims, the men brought in for questioning are comforted. “You aren’t thinking of committing suicide, are you,” they are asked the men. At one point, a woman with clear bruises around her throat who was drugged with GHB is asked if she could have just fallen down the night before.
Krakauer notes throughout the book that despite the title of Jezebel’s article, ‘My Weekend In America’s So-Called ‘Rape Capital’ (the author is referring to a quote given by a student), Missoula’s seemingly high rape statistics are quite normal. They just aren’t commonly discussed, as rape isn’t commonly discussed.
I remember reading Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, his personal account of an Everest climb gone wrong, in a buzzy good-book-haze, totally unaware of some of the aspects of climbing the highest mountain of the world. I had the same feeling again when I read his Under the Banner of Heaven, a terrifying look at the fundamentalist LDS church. Krakauer never shies from providing riveting accounts on the toughest of topics, attitudes towards acquaintance rape in Missoula are as scary as any of the other material he’s covered.
- Will it really take a man’s word for people to believe rape victims? (theguardian.com)
- How Shame Inspired Jon Krakauer’s Book on Rape (nymag.com)
- My Weekend In America’s So-Called ‘Rape Capital’ (jezebel.com)