The new Jon Krakauer book, Missoula, has residents of that city livid. The myth in places like this small Montana city is that big cities are corrupt and crime ridden, in particular that black ghetto dwellers are ruining America with their lawless ways. Montanans, farmers and small town and small city dwellers far from the evil coasts, are mostly white and 100% pure. They make much of churchgoing, family values and wholesome outdoor activities. They do enjoy seeing men, even men of color, brutalizing each other on the football field, but that's an outlet for otherwise peaceful folks, mild as milk in their everyday lives. And for towns like Missoula, college football is a big moneymaker and source of pride, as long as their team wins.
There has been some acknowledgement of late of the negative effects of football on the players, but the consequences of letting these boys loose on young women have been kept in the shadows. Violating young boys got Penn State coaches into trouble, but they were assaulting boys, ie future men, and it was homosexual activity, ie not considered "normal."
However, hetero sex on college campuses is accepted and normal these days. And male on female rape happens. A lot. And it is no more acceptable when it happens to girls and women than when it happens to boys and men.
The two women whose cases Krakauer investigates and who formally accused their UM acquaintance rapists to legal authorities paid a very high price for exposing them; it was totally unexpected by their assailants that they would seek to have charges pressed. The assaults took place in dark dorm rooms and bedrooms in an atmosphere where sex was accepted and not remarkable. Just everyday. So it might be difficult to tell what was rape and what wasn't.
That is why forensic evidence is so important and why police departments have to treat these cases in a professional manner.
There is a lot to say and the Internet is full of pros and cons right now. If you are interested, you can google all the information you need. So I'll just say what I think, because what I think is different from what I've been reading:
College football should be banned. There are all kinds of reasons for this, but I think the main ones are that it normalizes violence and promotes the idea of winning (scoring) at all costs.
Middle America should not tolerate young brutes who violate young women, destroy their trust, lead them into years of depression and DON'T CARE as long as they are not found out or punished.
In lieu of coming to terms with the criminality in their midst, white communities project their crimes onto poor and marginalized and hypersexualized black people. They say, "Look at them," they never say, "Look at us." They need to come clean about the real nature of their social arrangements.
Mothers of sons often become gender traitors, sticking up for loutish male behavior and denying their abuse of girls and women. These women fail to exercise the moral authority that women have in the past had over men. The lessons of previous generations have not been internalized, and young women now have to fight on their own for equilibrium in a very abusive atmosphere that yet stresses the demand for a kind of pleasant attitude: being a good sport and ready to please. SMILE!
As a matter of fact, first wave feminism was primarily about moral authority. Second wave feminism, which stressed freedom from the patriarchy, led women to believe that they could act like men and not be punished for it. Its great strength was in solidarity. Third wave is lacking the dimension of solidarity and tells young women they can be whatever they want to be, that they are no longer oppressed.
There are no duennas around, no in loco parentis, no curfews on women, nor should there be. Unfortunately, many men have the same regressive attitudes their fathers and grandfathers had and regard women "on the loose" as prey, even if they are their friends. Any girl or young woman can be raped, and it's often by boys they know and often boys whose primary sex education has been gonzo porn. Some "bad" girls, even in the olden days, got the whole debasement enchilada, but "good" girls were allowed to preserve their dignity by remaining virgins until marriage. This was repressive but better than suffering abuse. A bad bargain, to be sure, but the notion of good girls and bad girls still persists.
One thing that needs to happen, and this is something everyone could get on board with, is that when a women reports being raped, she will be believed and law enforcement will follow through, much as they would in the case of other kinds of assault. There needs to be pressure put on prosecutors to bring cases to trial. Get it out in the open. A nation of laws would be nice, one where the laws are enforced equally rather than tailored to the perceived needs of the dominant race and gender.
Krakauer concludes his book in this way:
Rapists rely on the silence of their victims to elude accountability. Simply by recounting their stories and breaking that silence, survivors of sexual assault strike a powerful blow against their assailants. Inevitably, many victims who come forward will be disbelieved, and will fail to find justice in the courts, in the halls of academia, or anywhere else. But by speaking out, they are likely to encourage other victims to tell their stories too, and may find that they have advanced their own recovery in the bargain. As more and more survivors emerge from the shadows and reveal the pervasiveness of sexual assault, they draw strength from their numbers. This collective fortitude touches all victims, even those too fearful to speak for themselves, by eradicating the undeserved sense of shame that is so often borne by isolation.
He is re-introducing here the element of solidarity against oppression that the women's movement lost somewhere along the way.
We are already at risk of being regarded as a lawless country, and we desperately need to clean up our act. It's not just Baltimore, or Missoula. It's the whole United States that is on trial. I'm glad we are talking about race, but we need to talk about gender too. It does not wash to say things are worse elsewhere, not when we set ourselves up as a country that is the true democracy and insist that we are the model for other countries to follow.
The whole world is watching.