Skip to comments.Why We Believed Jackie's Rape Story [Because it rang true for so many... ]
Posted on 12/07/2014 1:10:07 PM PST by Third Person
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. It was a near-unanimous reaction: shock, but not surprise. Disgust, but not doubt. Those were the feelings that characterized the endless conversations I had as a University of Virginia student following the Nov. 19 release of Sabrina Rubin Erdelys article, A Rape on Campus, in Rolling Stone.
There was this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach in [reading] the whole thing, fourth-year student Anna Burke told me. I have never been through something like that myself, but it was a refrain I had heard before. There was a sort of familiar sadness to it.
There was some anger at what many perceived as mischaracterizations of student life, student standards of integrity and the University administration. But in speaking to students across the grounds men and women, Greek and non-Greek, first and fourth years not one sought to challenge the validity of then-first-year student Jackies rape, either as a whole or in part.
In all honesty, I didnt either.
Then, suddenly, the story fell apart. After a wave of media criticism questioned Erdely for failing to interview the alleged perpetrators of the assault, the Universitys Phi Kappa Psi chapter released a statement pushing back on the allegations, citing specific factual inconsistencies. Not long after, Rolling Stone posted a statement admitting there may be discrepancies in the story, withdrawing their unilateral support. Their trust in Jackie, they said, had been misplaced.
Misplaced is a good word for how I feel right now. Two weeks into a process of healing and concerted action, the only shared conviction now is one of profound uncertainty. The campus relatively oversaturated with emotion after a semester of significant trauma feels as if it is on stand-by, poised in anticipation of where the next torrent of news will take us. I am drained. I am confused. But I keep returning to one question. If everyone here believed Jackies story until yesterday a story in which she is violently raped by seven men at a fraternity house as part of a planned initiation ritual should we not still be concerned?
There was something in that story which stuck. And that means something.
The University of Virginia like most American universities has a problem with rape. Current estimates, cited earlier this year by Vice President Joe Biden, hold that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college. That means that in my 200-person politics lecture, roughly a full row will be filled with survivors. In my 20-person major seminar, there are at least two. That is not a calculus I should have to work out in the margins of my Marx-Engels reader.
What does it say that we read an article in which an 18-year-old girl was pinned down, graphically violated by multiple people in a house we pass almost every day and we thought, That just may be right? If we are being honest with ourselves, no matter if specifics of the article are true, reading the article as a college student, you were thinking, This could happen, said Rex Humphries, a second-year who pledged a fraternity last spring. Your first reaction is not, This is preposterous. I asked if he thought Jackies story could be true. He paused and said, Yes.
For 17 days, we by and large believed Jackies story, maintaining only a few fragments of doubt. We were frustrated by the repeated use of the Rugby Road song, which appeared to make fun of the rape culture on campus but which most students, in fact, had never heard. We were angered by the portrayal of administrators we had worked with and personally trusted. We were slightly apprehensive at the articles claim the rape had taken place as part of pledging, noting that pledging takes place in the spring and not the fall. But on the whole, we did not question Jackie herself. And thats because, when we sorted through Erdelys snide tone and some small missteps, we found something in that article that struck a chord with us.
This is not to say that it does not matter whether or not Jackies story is accurate. There is now a police investigation into the incident. Brothers of Phi Kappa Psi were moved out of their house after students threw bricks through the windows. Dean Nicole Eramo has received death threats. And it is becoming increasingly clear that the story that blew the lid off campus sexual assault has some major, major holes. Ultimately, though, from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.
These events undoubtedly do occur here, first-year Maddie Rita told me. And while this report has clearly had factual flaws as well as rhetorical missteps, there are plenty of other fully corroborated accounts not only at this university, but at every university around the country.
Only eight to nine percent of sexual assault reports, at most, are later determined false. This statistic will not change, even if Jackie does lie with the minority. One of five women will be assaulted while in college. One case, however prolific, does not change how it felt to lie in my friends bed and have her tell me through tears what her first time was really like.
That same friend, a few days after the article was released, publicly identified herself as a survivor for the first time. People were talking, and the issue which too often hides in locked dorm rooms, in upstairs bedrooms and the dark corners of a fraternity basement was finally being thrust out into the open. Survivors felt comfortable sharing their stories, and there was hope that reporting would increase. With the crux of the story now wholly in doubt, this progress is threatened. Where we had the opportunity to move 20 steps forward, I fear we will be pushed 20 steps back.
Im worried that because of the inconsistencies in this story, this will challenge the precedent of believing a survivor, said fourth-year student Gianfranco Villar, a member of all-male sexual assault peer education group 1 in 4. This belief is vital to improving reporting rates and maintaining a survivors health. It is very disappointing.
It is no accident that the article came out, and it became apparent almost immediately that there were very tangible things we needed to discuss.
Yes, the story was sensational. But even the most sensational story, it seems, can contain frightening elements of truth.
From the Dan Rather school of pseudo journalism...”Fake but accurate”?
A more interesting topic would be why she does not believe the rape stories of Bill Clinton’s victims. Julie needs to grow up.
It doesn’t matter whether a crime occurred or not, it’s the seriousness of the allegation, right Julia?
What difference does it make at this particular time anyhoo?
My concern is with the narrative itself. If “it was a refrain I had heard . . . a sort of familiar sadness”, why didn’t they run a valid story about a rape that had actually taken place. Obviously rape happens, but I am suspicious that the popular liberal feminist narrative about pervasive rape is overstated to a degree that we cannot determine through the fog of leftist lies.
My default position until their side learns to value honesty is skepticism. That’s sad, but blind belief in their claims would be even sadder. Unfortunately (or is it fortunate because at least things aren’t as bad as claimed?), it seems that most sensational claims reach the level of sensationalism because they are fictional.
“And thats because... we found something in that article that struck a chord with us.”
Purely a Narrative Journalism example.
Find the pattern and insert to sort of facts that fit the Narrative you (the Press_ believe in.
Truth has no meaning post Obama because its irrelevant.
Narrative is everything.
It just occurred to me a couple of threads down the page.
This problem has a solution. Since both the perp and the victim are fictional characters, couldn’t the writer just write a fictional outcome? Fictional cops, a fictional trial? Or maybe a fictional apology as the fictional frat boys suddenly realize the gravity of what they’ve done, and the fictional victim struggles with her fictional emotional problems but bravely goes on with her fictional life?
No discriminating thought process, which is the basis of rule-of-law. Just feelings, which is the basis of anarchy.
Miss Burke's parents must be pleased with all the money they spent on a college education for their little mind-dead daughter.
I always think of Warren Beatty’s line in “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.”
“We? You got a turd in your pocket?”
“after a semester of significant trauma”
Much like only Chris Matthews can hear particular codewords, only these femi-nazis can interpret true intent of sexual assault from a greeting or handshake.
In all of this, no one seems to be overly concerned that an innocent fraternity, and the Greek system by extension, was smeared by this vicious slander.
And the 20% figure cited by Plugs is a lie, too.
We see a similar phenomenon with Ferguson and Gardner. Their worldview is that all cops are thugs who hate blacks and seek to do them harm, regardless of whatever the black person is doing or has done.
For the Liberal, reality is whatever ideology dictates, not facts.
All I can say is, with the second amendment, if rape is “prevalent” there should be an epidemic of dead men.
If you are a liberal and too stupid to have a gun, you can always acquire a brick. All rapists must sleep sooner or later.
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