On Nov. 19, Rolling Stone Magazine released an article detailing the gang rape of a student at the University of Virginia. In the days that have followed, the magazine issued – then retracted – an apology saying that the reporter “misplaced her trust” in Jackie. Following that, a pseudo-investigative journalist released what he says is Jackie’s real identity on his Twitter feed, along with photos and details about her personal life.
Not surprisingly, a media shit-storm has ensued.
We at Feminist Campus are upset, to say the least, both about how this case has been handled, and how the media is reporting on it. We know you are too, so we’ve put together a round-up of the best feminist commentary on the UVA story:
1. Feministing breaks down fact checking, journalistic limits and reporting on rape
This long-form piece from a former fact-checker and copy editor explains how Rolling Stone grossly mishandled their apology for the story. She also dives into discussing the ‘journalistic’ standards at play in this case – ideas like objectivity, bias and accuracy.
The author writes: “Rolling Stone themselves offered up an appealing scapegoat: Jackie. Especially in their original statement, which has now been edited, Rolling Stone shamefully tried to lay their journalistic failures on their source, saying they had ‘trusted’ Jackie’s account and found their ‘trust in her was misplaced.’ ”
Check out the story here.
2. This Washington Post opinion piece urges readers to believe rape victims.
The author of this opinion piece acknowledges that Jackie’s story – especially the way it was presented in The Rolling Stone, appears to have holes, but then writes that regardless of what naysayers are writing – and in this case, tweeting – we as a society need to believe rape victims.
An excerpt: “The cost of disbelieving women, on the other hand, is far steeper. It signals that that women don’t matter and that they are disposable — not only to frat boys and Bill Cosby, but to us. And they face a special set of problems in having their say.”
Read more here.
3. Mother Jones chimes in with startling statistics on campus rape
Mother Jones reminds readers that regardless of the next bombshell in The Rolling Stone case, rape on campus is still happening, and at an alarming rate. This story is a roundup of important statistics on rape culture, fraternities and reporting rape that is an important read for the campus feminist.
Click to read the story here.
4. Buzzfeed shares a post entitled “There is No ‘Right’ Rape Story”
Former Feminist Majority Foundation intern Jade Reindl shares the story of what happened, and how she felt, when she spoke about being a survivor of rape in a professional capacity.
She writes: “When it came to talking to someone I barely knew so matter-of-factly, taking this story I had little time to cope with and wrapping it up into a neat little package, I felt I was failing.
I was failing simply because I felt something many survivors do on a daily basis: Blame. Guilt. Doubt. What if I hadn’t said ‘No, thank you’ loud enough? What if I had been less polite? What if I had been more aggressive? What if, for once in my life, I wasn’t afraid of offending someone and actually stood up for myself? What if I had run screaming out into the snow and spent the night freezing in the street? Would that have been better — would I still have been raped then?”
Check out more here.
5. Jackie’s former roommate speaks up
Jackie’s freshman year roommate wrote to UVA’s paper, The Cavalier Daily, in defense of Jackie. She describes living with Jackie, noticing something was off, but never knowing the horror of what happened until after the two moved out.
She writes: “I fully support Jackie, and I believe wholeheartedly that she went through a traumatizing sexual assault….Whether the details are correct or not, and whether the reporting was faulty, or the hazy memories of a traumatizing night got skewed…the blame should never fall on the victim’s shoulders. “
Read more from Jackie’s roommate here.
6. Slate blames the trolls who doxxed Jackie on The Rolling Stone, too.
This story discusses the way Jackie’s alleged real name and identity were released online, and how Rolling Stone should have done more to prevent this from happening. After all, the magazine did use Jackie’s real nickname, school and year.
A reminder from the author: “Not that they will listen, but the trolls need a big reminder that what happened at UVA can still be filed in the category of mystery, not hoax.”
Read more at Slate.
7. Want more on the so-called hoax? Huffington Post has you covered.
So now that Jackie’s alleged identity has been released, many online are calling the Rolling Stone story a hoax. Not so, writes The Huffington Post, and we agree.
“Here’s why that claim is so problematic: Calling something a hoax implies there was a specific intention to deceive, often maliciously. It implies that every piece of Jackie’s account is false, that she is a girl who set out to entrap and defame men by creating a fantastical (and brutal) story, that she had some hidden agenda and something tangible to gain from recounting this violent tale to a Rolling Stone reporter. There is no question that Rolling Stone’s editorial staff and reporter have some serious explaining to do,” the author writes.
Check out more here.
8. At Autostraddle, two pieces on why Jackie deserves to be believed.
The first, “I Believe Jackie: On Credibility, Rape Culture, and Rolling Stone,” in which the author writes, “Listen: We must believe Jackie. We must not cast her aside because her details of the violent, traumatic event two years ago were not completely accurate. We know that Jackie has been under treatment for PTSD, major side effects of which include memory problems. In the original story, we learn that Jackie didn’t piece together some details, like the location of the frat house, until later and with the help of friends. The search for clarification does not discredit or erase Jackie’s experience as a rape victim. As long as Jackie stands by her story, I will honor it as credible. I respect her pain and I want justice for her.”
And, from the same author, a piece on why now is a more critical time than ever to fight rape on college campuses: “It’s the first time since Steubenville that we are having a truly national conversation about sexual assault, and it’s a chance to push for movement in new ways. On a small scale, the University of Virginia and local authorities have a responsibility to investigate Jackie’s case, if she wishes for that to happen, and find out what happened to her that September 2012 night and who is responsible. As feminists and anti-rape activists, we must try to process the horror of what happened to Jackie and what happens to so many people so often — this stunning writing by Sarah Jeong is one place to start. And then, we must use this moment to write, think, share and act.”
Read more from both pieces at Autostraddle.