Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

If you are sending a teenage daughter to college this fall, your biggest fear shouldn't be whether she'll make friends or how she'll handle adult responsibilities.  Rape, particularly acquaintance rape, is prevalent on college campuses.  This isn't attacking someone in the dark as they are walking home.  This is someone you've met who won't take your no as an answer and keeps pushing for sex.  This is having too much to drink and waking up to find someone having sex with you that you didn't agree to.  This is someone you thought of as a friend suddenly doing something you never saw coming.

Jon Krakauer examines the issue of college rapes/unwanted sexual attacks through the lens of one college town, Missoula, Montana.  The university is the biggest entity in the town and the football team, the Grizzlies, one of the main social outlets.  He examines three cases in depth.  The first is a woman who goes to a party at the home of a man who she has considered a friend her entire life.  There has never been anything romantic between them.  She wakes up to find him having sex with her.  The second is a woman who gets drunk and then asks a man she just met up to her dorm room.  Although once she gets there she refuses sex, he pushes himself on her anyway.  The final case is that of a woman who gets to know the quarterback of the football team and invites him over to watch a movie.  Instead, he rapes her with people in the next room. 

All of these women struggled with what happened to them, unable to believe it.  None went to the police right away, but all eventually did.  The cases went through college procedures for reported rapes and then moved on to the courts.  One man was found guilty, one was found not guilty.  In all cases, the aftermath was as horrific for the women as the actual event.

This is an issue that looms large in today's society.  Young people, sometimes entitled, who have their first taste of adult independence and maybe their first experiences with alcohol and drugs, don't always have the ability to handle situations that lead to rape.  Add in sports adulation and institutions that don't take the problem seriously and it is a cauldron of seething sexuality out of control.  This is an important book.  It is recommended for anyone who is or has a daughter at college.

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