What I’m Reading: “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town”

"Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town" by Jon Krakauer

“Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” by Jon Krakauer

The legal system is a common venue for dramatic story-telling. It’s where the messy details of life intersect with the need for a rigorous dispute resolution system. Centuries of practice documented in libraries of written texts strain to address rapid changes in our society. Krakauer’s review of rape and sexual assaults in the college town of Missoula puts this tension between legal custom and contemporary culture on display. The book provides context for the invigorated Title IX changes and stands as an example of why the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter was necessary and long overdue.

Most of us who work in housing have responded to students who’ve been sexually victimized. I have personally witnessed victim’s support systems and friend groups unravel when they report their rape. This book lays bare the way in which well-meaning people victimize and scrutinize those who report sexual assault in ways that would be unthinkable in any other reported crime. This book will certainly be added to my recommended readings list for Resident Directors. I would also recommend that any parent of a teenage male read this book. It provides a window into the ways young men often fail to grasp the importance of establishing affirmative consent and misinterpret women’s responses to male sexual aggression. Empowering our culture to raise young men who proactively understand and respect their partner’s physical and sexual boundaries is among our most crucial tasks. This “Missoula”contributes to our shared understanding of how we often fail victims and what we can do to improve.

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