To say Rolling Stone Magazine made a mistake is giving them too much credit. November 19, 2014 a rambling story of brutal rape was published under the banner of Truth (you can Google the story for yourself if you feel so inclined; I’ll not be posting a link to that drivel to help their hits counter). Stats and figures and other cases of rape were intermingled with the main story about “Jackie”- a naive college student who allegedly endured near-unspeakable horrors. Except, apparently the burden of fact-checking one woman’s heinous allegations was beyond the pay-grade of Sabrina Rubin Erdely or her editors. Fact-checking shouldn’t be above anyone’s pay-grade. Is Rolling Stone hurting for cash to the point they are stooping to write soft-core porn, Penthouse-worthy opening paragraphs?
I’ll say this just once: Rape is evil beyond words. Those who rape are the lowest of humans- if they can be called that. Those who endure it are scarred for life and only the strongest and those with an incredible support system and faith seem to make it out of the barely surviving stage into thriving and living.
Although this shouldn’t need saying, in this post-feminist society, it sadly does: All men are not evil. All men are not out to rape, oppress, and/or beat women. All men are not dogs. All men are not slaves to their neanderthal hormones. All men are not the same. Also, all women are not trustworthy. All women do not tell the truth. All women are not virtuous. All women are not the same.
Two weeks into the Fall of the 2001 semester at Ball State University, I was sexually assaulted on campus. A new friend I’d met in my Psychology lecture encouraged me to meet more people- get out there. I was quiet and awkward and unsure of everything thing around me. I took his advice and met up with another freshman for dinner one night. We went back to his dorm room to play cards. His roommate was gone, but came back briefly only to speak in quick, hushed tones then leave. At some time in the evening he closed the door and brought out a Mt. Dew bottle with alcohol in it. I got up to leave. He blocked the door and said I could leave if I’d have a drink with him. I drank fast so I could get back to my dorm. The alcohol hit hard. He said I could lay on his bed until I felt better. I asked him to take me back to my dorm. He wouldn’t. I laid down trying to catch myself as the world spun and drifted in and out of my consciousness. I remember him crawling into his bed with me. I remember things I don’t want to remember. I remember him touching me and manipulating parts of my body to touch him. I remember trying to move but everything feeling like I was submerged in mud and going in slow motion.
In the morning he said he had a good time and we should do it again. I went back to my room, called my friend, and waited. My friend rushed to campus to pick me up and whisk me to the fraternity he was pledging- the last place I wanted be. But I trusted him, so my friend drove me to the house. The brothers there had been given the heads up what was happening and when I walked in, they were amazing, kind, compassionate, and genuine. The ZBT guys did everything they could to help me. After getting advice from one of the brothers who was studying law, my friend drove me to the hospital for one of the most humiliating experiences a woman can go through- a rape kit. The doctor’s attitude was cold, the nurse was verbally abusive when I refuse the morning after pill, and everything was so sterile and impersonal.
After we left the hospital, my friend took me to campus police where I had to recount the entire ordeal- as much as I could remember- to a camera then write it all out on paper. I didn’t leave the station until 2-3 in the morning. While I was there, the police told me they had brought in the guy who assaulted me and were taking his statement. At some point my friend talked to my parents for me. I couldn’t face them. The guy confessed to everything. Campus police told me he gave more details than I could, except he claimed it was consensual. I still balk at that. I didn’t consent to anything. When I was conscious I insisted on leaving, but he wouldn’t let me.
My roommate called me a liar. She told a couple of her friends on our floor and they called me a liar. They asked how I could ruin a poor guy’s reputation like that just for attention. Campus police eventually called me to tell me the prosecutor wouldn’t take my case because there was no physical evidence from the rape kit proving I was assaulted- never mind his TAPED confession. He wasn’t disciplined by the university and continued to move freely around campus. I almost dropped out of my English class because it was held in the basement of his dorm building and I broke down crying every time I walked up to the doors. My friend and his fraternity are the only reason I made it through that year alive.
Rape and sexual assault are real. Those who make false allegations for attention hurt REAL victims. They hurt the progress made in creating a safe space to speak up and speak out, and to get help. Rolling Stone’s and Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s lack of Journalism 101 skills set back rape victims. Their cavalier attitude to facts and fact-checking is disgusting. They were a joke when they put one of the Boston Bombers on their cover like a millionaire playboy. With this rag of a story and their shell of an apology, they’ve downgraded their credibility to below The National Enquirer.