“When an individual is raped in this country, more than 90 percent of the time the rapist gets away with the crime.” – Jon Krakauer
Some authors have been so compelling to me, I read any of their books, regardless of subject matter. Jon Krakauer is one of those authors. Though I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read a book about the epidemic of acquaintance rape in America, because it was written by Krakauer, I knew the material would be well researched, carefully analyzed, and told in a compelling way – which is certainly the case with Missoula. I don’t always agree with Krakauer’s conclusions or inferences from the data, but I always come away more informed from his books. In Missoula, Krakauer balances the book with both an up close look at the actual stories of a few women, as well as the bird’s-eye-view of the problems our nation and culture faces as a whole on this issue.
This book was alarmingly eyeopening. Krakauer helps dispel common rape myths such as the idea of the average rapist being a stranger lurking in the bushes at night, or that if anyone was being raped they would obviously do everything possible to escape the assault by screaming, biting, and kicking. Furthermore, since these rape myths are pervasive in our culture, they have become a major stumbling block to reporting and prosecuting these crimes.
The vast majority of victims of rape never report the crime. Those that do are then subject to a long series of humiliating experiences, forcing them to relive the trauma. There are the invasive medical exams to collect evidence, followed often by victim shaming, questioning, and doubting. Those that do go to court are almost always made out to be lying whores (the tried and true defense strategy). Victims of rape are often in a unique category of people where the victim is assumed to be the guilty person rather than the perpetrator of the crime. In the case of the Missoula police department, there were several cases with very solid evidence and even confessions by the assailant, where the prosecutor refused to take the case to trial citing ‘insufficient evidence’.
Certainly it is a tragedy of justice when someone or a group of people are falsely accused of such violent and heinous crime (As was the recent cases with the Duke Lacrosse team and the rape scandal of the University of Virginia). Yet it is still a greater tragedy of justice to the millions of other actual victims of rape who either never report the crime (for various reasons), or who have their cases tossed by skeptical prosecutors, or who lose their cases in court due to the prevalence of rape myths.
As the father of four daughters I was angered by the telling of these crimes and resolved to help equip my daughters as best as possible to be prepared as they head off to college.