Lazy Saturday Reads: #IStandWithJackiePosted: December 6, 2014
I’m feeling very overwhelmed this morning, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Between the police killings of civilians and the UVA rape story, I don’t know where to turn for relief.
Last night I escaped for awhile by watching the season finale of “Z Nation,” which is a very violent show about a group of survivors of the zombie apocalypse that almost seems like a metaphor for our sick society.
Why are people so fascinated by zombies at this time in history? Is it because so many of us are dead inside, with no empathy for our fellow humans? Hatred of anyone who is not a white, wealthy, straight “christian” male born in the USA has taken over so many of us and transformed our culture in so many ugly ways.
It’s as if a virus was loosed on the population–in the Reagan years?–and those of us who still care for other people and dream of equal rights and protection for all people are left fighting just to stay conscious–like the survivors in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
Where will it all end?
I was planning to write about the backlash against the Rolling Stone story on rape at the University of Virginia in today’s post, but I don’t think I have my thoughts together enough to do a thorough job of it yet. When I first started thinking about it, the main backlash was about author Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s choice not to locate the accused perpetrators and get their side of the story.
WTF?! As Columbia journalism Prof. Helen Benedict told the NYT, a reporter doing a story on a university refusing to deal with a robbery or mugging on campus wouldn’t be required to hunt down the perpetrators and get their point of view on what actually happened.
But rape is different. Any woman who reports being raped in the good old USA must be scrutinized in detail, because she probably was asking for it or is lying. She must tell what she was wearing, whether she was drinking, whether she knew the perpetrator, whether she is just claiming rape because she regrets having sex while drunk, and on and on and on.
Then yesterday afternoon Will Dana, managing editor of Rolling Stone basically threw Erdely’s source “Jackie” under the bus, suggesting that she had fabricated her story. Dana apparently took the word of members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity that “Jackie’s” story was untrue.
As someone who was traumatized as a child and who has had to deal with posttraumatic stress disorder for much of my life, I took it personally. At first I could not stand to read the accusatory articles, so I went to Twitter first. There I learned that many men and women were pushing back against the media victim-blaming. They had started posting tweets with the hashtag #IStandWithJackie. Reading many of those tweets gave me the strength to read some of yesterday’s backlash articles.
Because I’m really not ready to write a coherent post right now, I’m just going to link to some articles that you may want to check out.
The story that triggered yesterday’s backlash was by T. Rees Shapiro and published at The Washington Post: Key elements of Rolling Stone’s U-Va. gang rape allegations in doubt. Shapiro, like Rolling Stone’s Will Dana, accepts the word of the accused fraternity that there was no party on the date given by “Jackie” and the word of a man she accused that he never met “Jackie.” Jackie’s compelling story is apparently eclipsed for the Post by these unproven assertions by unnamed men who have every reason to lie to protect themselves and their fraternity.
Here are some “key elements” of the WaPo story for me:
Jackie, who spoke to The Washington Post several times during the past week, stood by her account, offering a similar version and details.
“I never asked for this” attention, she said in an interview. “What bothers me is that so many people act like it didn’t happen. It’s my life. I have had to live with the fact that it happened — every day for the last two years.” ….
Jackie describes her interactions with Erdely and Rolling Stone:
Overwhelmed by sitting through interviews with the writer, Jackie said she asked Erdely to be taken out of the article. She said Erdely refused, and Jackie was told that the article would go forward regardless.
Jackie said she finally relented and agreed to participate on the condition that she be able to fact-check her parts in the story, which she said Erdely agreed to.
“I didn’t want the world to read about the worst three hours of my life, the thing I have nightmares about every night,” Jackie said.
About the article itself:
Jackie told The Post that she felt validated that the article encouraged other female students to come forward saying that they, too, had been sexually assaulted in fraternity houses.
“Haven’t enough people come forward at this point?” she said. “How many people do you need to come forward saying they’ve been raped at a fraternity to make it real to you? They need to acknowledge it’s a problem. They need to address it instead of pointing fingers to take the blame off themselves.”
Trauma has powerful effects on the brain, and it’s not at all surprising that survivors’ memories can be confused and inconsistent. In fact, even normal human memory is not designed to recall every detail of events with precision, and expecting that from a rape victim is ridiculous and unfair. But that’s the way it is.
“Jackie” did not even report her rape to the police, because she felt she couldn’t handle the backlash. Now a magazine that didn’t stand by its own story has made her vulnerable to attacks from all over the world.
Where is author Sabrina Rubin Erdely? Why isn’t she defending her story?
Last night on Twitter, Jamison Foser called attention to the fact that the WaPo story originally claimed as fact that Jackie was lying. Then they changed the line in the story without noting they had made a correction. That’s a pretty big “mistake” for a newspaper that has been busily trying to debunk “Jackie’s” story for the past couple of weeks.
Wonkblog (at the WaPo) posted a story on the Twitter response last night: #IStandWithJackie: People on Twitter are criticizing Rolling Stone and supporting UVa student.
Now some important articles that push back against the backlash, yesterday’s WaPo story, and Rolling Stone’s betrayal of “Jackie.” Some of these were published before the RS reversal, but I still think they are relevant.
Think Progress: Gang Rapes Happen On College Campuses.
Melissa McEwen at Shakesville: Today in Rape Culture.
About Reporting: The backlash to Rolling Stone’s story about rape culture at UVa
Alexandra Brodsky at MSNBC: Rolling Stone scapegoats rape victim, makes matters worse.
Ali Safron at Buzzfeed: Victims’ Memories Are Imperfect, But Still Perfectly Believable.
Libby Nelson at Vox: Rolling Stone didn’t just fail readers — it failed Jackie, too.
Amanda Taub at Vox: The lesson of Rolling Stone and UVA: protecting victims means checking their stories.
Rolling Stone before the sudden reversal: Rape at UVA: Readers Say Jackie Wasn’t Alone.
Katie McDonough at Salon: “It makes me really depressed”: From UVA to Cosby, the rape denial playbook that won’t go away.
That’s about all I can handle writing this morning. I have some links on other stories that I’ll post in the comment thread. I hope you join me there and share your own recommended links.