Jon Krakauer, is famous for writing for writing noble outdoorsy books like Into Thin Air and Into The Wild. His latest book, Missoula, which is subtitled “Rape and the Justice System in a College Town,” seems dramatically different on the surface, but on a deeper level with this book he continues his Don Quixote quest for man’s nobility.
Missoula, MT is the setting for this book because a few years ago the city had several newsworthy incidents of alleged sexual assault, most involving University of Montana students, including several University of Montana football players. But Krakauer points out that rape is statistically no more prevalent in Missoula than most other places in America.
Krakauer is very sympathetic to the alleged victims and very critical of the law & order folks – i.e., the police, the prosecutors, and the college administrators. He accuses them of being cynical of the alleged victims.
But I don’t blame them, because the women rarely come before the court of equity with clean hands. They were almost always drunk, they almost always voluntarily got into bed with the guy, and then in a he-said, she-said, she says she changed her mind at some point prior to consensual sex. This is often called Date Rape.
I’ve never understood why Date Rape is treated under the law with the same severity as Rape between strangers. When a drunk woman declines to have sex with a drunk guy, but allows him to sleep it off in her bed, and then awakens to him fondling her (this was one of the reported incidents), do we really want to lock him up and throw away the key?
I understand that a woman has the right at any time to change her mind, but from the perspective of a criminal prosecution, this is a tough case to prove beyond reasonable doubt. Colleges, however, can expel on the basis of the lower preponderance-of-evidence standard.
To make matters more complicated, Krakauer argues that for some psychological reason the victim will often refuse to call for help. With one alleged rape, there was a third-person outside the bedroom door; with another rape, there was a third-person in another bed in the same room; and finally with a third rape, there was another person in the bed with them. None of the three called out for help.
Both the alleged victim and the alleged assailant are often guilty of being falling-down drunk. And it is the slogan du jour that drunk women can’t give consent for sex. But what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Does that mean that a woman who has sex with a falling-down drunk guy is likely to be prosecuted for rape?
As John Wayne said in The Searchers, “That’ll be the day.”
p.s., as I wrote this blogpost, I was unable to find a column that suggested that feminists had pushed their concern for date rape beyond reasonable limits. Today, I stumbled across the column by Cathy Young in the Washington Post. It is titled, “Feminists want us to define these ugly sexual encounters as rape. Don’t let them.” Subtitle – “We need to stop prosecuting bad behaviour as rape.”
p.s.s., NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently opined on “acquaintance rape” and Missoula. I don’t disagree.