I’ve spent the past week getting absolutely lost in Missoula by Jon Krakauer. Non-fiction is not my genre of choice, but I was captivated by the subject matter. Rape culture on American college campuses is a nasty epidemic that is constantly ignored and swept under the rug. Krakauer takes aim at campus rape by focusing on one college town, Missoula, Montana-home of the University of Montana.
Krakauer gives this issue a voice by using real-life victims and perpetrators, this book feels like a fiction narrative that captivates the reader. He follows victims from the attacks, to reporting to the police, to disciplinary hearings, and court cases. His focus also includes football players at the University, adding an athletic dynamic into the mix. The stories are absolutely heart wrenching. The only thing worse than reading the intimate details of the sexual assault is the denial and indifference of law enforcement.
The first half of the book is much stronger than the last half which consists mainly of court transcripts. But the whole thing comes together in a perfect portrait of a sports-centered college town which denies rampant sexual crime. This book plays on the fact that college is one of the most dangerous places to go to as a woman. So many institutions like the University of Montana, want to deny that there is a problem. Law enforcement neglects to prosecute suspects and so many perpetrators are given warnings and let back on the streets to potentially sexually assault more victims.
I believe that everyone should read this book. If you are a woman, you will relate to the treatment and public perception of a woman accusing a man of sexual assault. If you are a man, you need to read these accounts of assault by women and the justification of these men and you need get the term “consent” 100% clear in your head, since for some reason it is so confusing. I truly believe that the only way we can gain control of this epidemic is to teach our young boys that no girl owes them anything sexually, what consent actually means, and we need to stop treating our athletes as if they are above the law. A difficult, but fascinating read.