I’ve been reading everything that I can get my hands on in regards to the Rolling Stone article about UVA. I was aware of the allegations of discrepancies beforehand (I have yet to see an outright claim that “Jackie”‘s narrative was fabricated) but I wanted to read the article for myself. Frankly, I am not surprised that rape apologists have clung to the “questions in Jackie’s narrative” element of the article. Choosing to focus on that instead of on the greater thesis of the article, which focused on UVA’s history of inaction in regards to allegations of assault on their campus, allows their righteous indignation to flare up.
You can trace UVA’s cycle of sexual violence and institutional indifference back at least 30 years – and incredibly, the trail leads back to Phi Psi. In October 1984, Liz Seccuro was a 17-year-old virgin when she went to a party at the frat and was handed a mixed drink. – Rolling Stone article on UVA
As I read the article, I counted 25 allegations of sexual assault by UVA students. Only two of whom were directly related to “Jackie” and her allegation. In close reading, I found that there was a lot of valuable information in the article, and said as much on Twitter. (I know, I know: what was I thinking?)
On Twitter, the insults were flying and arguments were in full swing between rape apologists and survivor supporters. But most could agree that Rolling Stone had dropped the ball. The question of exactly what or how Rolling Stone had screwed up was a point of contention. Many were concerned with how Rolling Stone turned on “Jackie,” as though she was some sort of maniacal mastermind who duped them in their sweet journalistic innocence.
However, the article contained information about the policies of UVA that were eye-opening and interesting:
If the UVA administration was roiled by such concerns, however, it wasn’t apparent this past September, as it hosted a trustees meeting. Two full hours had been set aside to discuss campus sexual assault, an amount of time that, as many around the conference table pointed out, underscored the depth of UVA’s commitment. Those two hours, however, were devoted entirely to upbeat explanations of UVA’s new prevention and response strategies, and to self-congratulations to UVA for being a “model” among schools in this arena. Only once did the room darken with concern, when a trustee in UVA colors – blue sport coat, orange bow tie – interrupted to ask, “Are we under any federal investigation with regard to sexual assault?”
Dean of students Allen Groves, in a blue suit and orange necktie of his own, swooped in with a smooth answer. He affirmed that while like many of its peers UVA was under investigation, it was merely a “standard compliance review.” He mentioned that a student’s complaint from the 2010-11 academic year had been folded into that “routine compliance review.” Having downplayed the significance of a Title IX compliance review – which is neither routine nor standard – he then elaborated upon the lengths to which UVA has cooperated with the Office of Civil Rights’ investigation, his tone and manner so reassuring that the room relaxed.
However, in their swiftness to back away from the situation, which they are responsible for, Rolling Stone called the entire article into question.
Many of the allegations calling “Jackie”’s narrative into question are based on the accounts of people around her. It’s not surprising, in the way this story has blown up, that the people around the survivor are clamoring to get away from it. Hell, there were four individuals present the evening of my assault. Two assaulted me. One made it his mission to make it known to every mutual acquaintance that I was lying. One, my ex-boyfriend, walked in during my assault, freaked out, and left me there to find a way home, a distance of 25 miles. If you were to question any one of them, I’m sure that they would contradict my narrative.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what activists say and it doesn’t matter how accurate survivors try to be while relaying their narratives. There will always be people hell bent on denying them and looking for reasons to accuse survivors of lying. It’s another example of the pervasive culture of rape that some work so hard to deny.
The argument that men are being victimized here is rather ludicrous. Men aren’t being thrown in prison left and right because of false rape claims. Men aren’t even being thrown in prison for actually committing rape.