"When an individual is raped in this country, more than 90 percent of the time the rapist gets away with the crime."
Such is the reality of my work and life. Infuriating reality. I have been a fan of bestselling author Jon Krakauer's writing for years and when I heard that he was taking on rape culture, I was thrilled. I was even more pleased that he unflinchingly took on issues of prosecutorial discretion and criminal justice/campus response in this very thorough look at one university community's response to rape. It is impossible to read the details of the cases that he covers and not think of the many survivor's experiences that I have had shared with me (or witnessed) as an advocate for rape survivors in a university community. Our system is broken. Our criminal justice systems are made up of our community members, and our community members live in a smog of rape myths and sexism and sports-worshiping that invades their cells as they breathe and makes it very difficult to respond appropriately without a LOT of training and intentional recognition of cultural bias. It can be different, but it requires shifting our culture, and that, my friends, is no easy task.
My hope is that by having a very popular author take on this topic, that people who would otherwise not have chosen to engage with this issue will have their eyes opened to the realities of rape culture and the lasting effects that sexual violence has on its survivors.
I have to add that while I appreciated and felt this book was important, that I am also painfully aware of the narrow perspective this book brings when considering the range of sexual violence that occurs in our country. Krakauer's focus is largely on a few white, largely privileged, victims who experience campus sexual assault at the hands of college athletes, putting aside the many victims whose experiences with the criminal justice system's response is also impacted by race, socio-economic status, gender identity, and other intersectional oppressions. When we see the responses that the (largely privileged) survivors in Krakauer's book receive from criminal justice systems, it is not a very difficult leap to be able to understand that multiple oppressions and other factors could, and do, mean an even more horrific lack of justice for other, less privileged survivors.
Find out more about the book "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town."
MORE ABOUT CAT:
Cat Fribley has been with IowaCASA since 2001 managing the National Sexual Assault Coalition's Resource Sharing Project for the coalition. She provides capacity-building training and technical assistance to state and territorial sexual assault coalitions. In addition, she coordinates all national activities and events for the project. Cat has worked in the anti-violence movement since 1995 at national, state, and local advocacy organizations.