Behind the news… guest post from a brand-new patriarchy-blamer!

Warning:  this post is about rape, and contains swearing.  Please feel free to skip it if these are things you don’t want to read.

We’ll be heavily moderating comments here.  This post is not about what may or may not be facts in evidence; it’s about taking apart news stories and uncovering weaselly, skewed, woman-hating rhetoric.  It’s about the UVa rape story/frats/Rolling Stone article/etc.

We present to you in all its glory:  an email from a (white male) friend of ours who is becoming more and more feminist the longer he hangs around me.  *grin*

—————————

I know there is this psychological phenomenon where people who are exposed to data contrary to their beliefs actually tend to reinforce their beliefs.  That being said after reading the Washington Post reporting on the Rolling Stone UVA story I have to say I find the reporting in the Washington Post to be wholly unconvincing – to the point of making me angry at the conclusions they suggest given the evidence they have reported – especially given that their critique of the Rolling Stone article is that the RS article is not sufficiently rigorous:

To wit, here are the factual claims made in the Washington Post article, presented here without comment, then some comments below:
  • The fraternity where the attack was made has been working with the police and has concluded the allegations are untrue
  • The fraternity said there was no event at the house the night the attack was alleged to have happened
  • A group of Jackie’s close friends said they have come to doubt her account
  • A student who came to Jackie’s aid the night of the attack said she did not appear physically injured, and that Jackie claimed to have been forced to have oral sex with a group of men
    • This student claimed they offered to get her help but Jackie just wanted to return to her dorm
  • The friends said the details of the attack have changed over time and they have not been able to verify key points in recent days.
    • For example, the named junior who worked as a university lifeguard was not a member of the named fraternity, but instead belongs to a different fraternity
  • The named lifeguard said he has never met Jackie, he said he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi
  • Jackie has stood by her story and reported similar details to the Washington Post
  • The fraternity in question has stated its “initial doubts as to the accuracy of the article have only been strengthened as alumni and undergraduate members have delved deeper.”
  • The frat says it did not host a “date function or social event” the weekend of Sept. 28 2012
  • The frat says it reviewed the roster of employees at the University’s Aquatic Fitness Center for 2012 and found it does not include a member of the frat
  • The frat says no member of the house matches the description of the primary attacker detailed in the rolling stone account
  • The frat said that the house does not have pledges during the fall semester
  • The frat says “…no ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiation process.”
  • The post has interviewed Jackie, dozens of current and former members of the fraternity, and the fraternity’s faculty adviser, Jackie’s friends and former roommates, and others on campus
  • Alex Pinkleton said in an interview that she has had numerous conversations with Jackie in recent days and now feels misled
  • Earlier this week and for the first time, Jackie revealed to friends the full name of her alleged main attacker
    • Her friends determined the named student was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and that other details about his background did not match information Jackie had disclosed earlier
  • “Andy,” a student who said Jackie said “something bad happened” and ran to meet her on campus, about a mile from the school’s fraternities:
    • Andy disputes that:
      • Jackie’s dress was bloody
      • The Phi Kappa Psi house was looming in the background
      • They debated “the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape” before advising against seeking help
    • Andy states that Jackie said she had been at a frat party and been forced to perform oral sex on a group of men
      • Andy does not remember Jackie identifying a specific house
    • Andy states the group offered to get her help, but instead Jackie wanted to return to the dorm – he and the friends spent the night with her to comfort her at her request
  • An anonymous student is quoted as saying “Is there a possibility nothing happened? Sure. I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.”
  • “Renda” said Thursday Jackie initially told her she was attacked by five students at Phi Kappa Psi.  Renda said she learned months later that Jackie had changed the number of attackers from five to seven.
  • “Renda” is quoted as saying: “I don’t even know what I believe at this point.”
  • The article states: “Renda said research shows that between 2 and 8 percent of rape allegations are fabricated or unfounded.”
  • Jackie initially asked the RS author to take her out of the article because the repeated interviews were overwhelming.  She relented and agree to participate no the condition she be able to fact-check her parts of the story.
OK, self … Breathe, breathe, keep breathing…  Here are my thoughts:
[there is profanity past this point!]
  • The fraternity where the attack was made has been working with the police and has concluded the allegations are untrue
    • What information is the police sharing with the frat that is not public domain?  If any then it is inappropriate.  If none then this is an obviously self serving claim (which does not logically preclude it from being true), however without supporting evidence it casts the absolute minimum amount of doubt on Jackie’s account: the amount of doubt which should be apportioned to a statement made by a group that A. Can’t possibly _know_ the truth unless it is to confirm Jackie’s account. B. Is served by denying Jackie’s account.
  • The fraternity said there was no event at the house the night the attack was alleged to have happened
    • Please define “party.”  Am I to believe any of the following:
      • The frat keeps detailed records of their social calendar – detailed enough that an absence of a notation in their party log book is good evidence there was no party?
      • That there was absolutely no socialization with non-frat members at the house that weekend?
      • It should be relatively straightforward to assemble texts, facebook posts, emails, etc. that demonstrate the existence or non-existence of a “party” regardless of the frat’s claims.   Were any of these avenues investigated?  Did anyone review h all social media posts made by all frat members from Friday through Monday of the weekend in question, for example?
  • A group of Jackie’s close friends said they have come to doubt her account
    • Relevance?  Why are Jackie’s close friends qualified to judge the veracity of her account?  What specifically is the evidence that has caused them to doubt?  Some of this is addressed later.  I find it compelling.
  • A student who came to Jackie’s aid the night of the attack said she did not appear physically injured, and that Jackie claimed to have been forced to have oral sex with a group of men
    • This student claimed they offered to get her help but Jackie just wanted to return to her dorm
    • A – This seems to corroborate Jackie’s account, not refute it.  Sorry Jackie didn’t want to talk about the specifics of the violation and/or that she didn’t offer an exhaustive account of all acts to a group of people she had known for 4 weeks standing on the street within an hour of the ordeal.  Let’s assume Jackie also didn’t mention being assaulted with a bottle, or punched in the face at this time – does this fact detract from the credence of these claims now? 
    • B – The second bullet corroborates the account in rolling stone, which states; “Jackie stood beside them, mute in her bloody dress, wishing only to go back to her dorm room and fall into a deep, forgetful sleep.”
  • The friends said the details of the attack have changed over time and they have not been able to verify key points in recent days.
    • For example, the named junior who worked as a university lifeguard was not a member of the named fraternity, but instead belongs to a different fraternity
    • A – Why the FUCK would anyone give TWO SHITS whether or not her friends (who are not investigators, and do not have access to relevant records) can “verify key points in recent days” – over 2 years after the fact.  This is so irrelevant it’s inclusion here makes me comfortable calling it manipulative.
    • B – I’ll leave it to others to chime in on traumatic memory, but I’m pretty sure my account of anything significant that happened two years ago in the dark (maybe while drunk?) would be subject to change over time – this seems completely normal behavior for human memory.
    • C – The first actual discrepancy here re: the name the lifeguard, who was a member of a different frat.  I can think of any number of plausible and innocent reasons why Jackie could be mistaken about what frat the guy belonged to – her belief that person X is a member of frat Y, or that person A is named B could account for this.  That being said, this is definitely a thread to pull on.
  • The named lifeguard said he has never met Jackie, he said he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi
    • So… Jackie says he took her to a dinner date, invited her to a frat party, and directed a gang rape.  He says he never met her.  These two accounts are in obvious conflict.  The conflict does not cast significant doubt on Jackie’s account, as the named lifeguard has every incentive to maintain this position.  However, absent an admission investigation in warranted.
  • Jackie has stood by her story and reported similar details to the Washington Post
    • Ok…
  • The fraternity in question has stated its “initial doubts as to the accuracy of the article have only been strengthened as alumni and undergraduate members have delved deeper.”
    • Fuck. You. Seriously: FUCK YOU.  What kind of shit for brains reporter includes this statement as support for weakness in the Rolling Stone account?  Why should anyone give much credence anything third party members of the frat say?  Unless what they say is: “I wasn’t there so I don’t know.” or “I was there on that entire weekend, awake and by the door the whole time, and can confirm with my eidetic memory that Jackie never entered or left the house.  I am willing to say this under oath and penalty of perjury.”
  • The frat says it did not host a “date function or social event” the weekend of Sept. 28 2012
    • See prior notes about how much confidence we should have in this statement.
  • The frat says it reviewed the roster of employees at the University’s Aquatic Fitness Center for 2012 and found it does not include a member of the frat
    • How does the frat have access to this roster?
    • Presuming they have access, how much confidence do we have that this roster is complete?
    • If they have access, and it’s complete, then we still have a single major discrepancy (that “Drew” was not a PKP member), which keeps being related in slightly different forms.
  • The frat says no member of the house matches the description of the primary attacker detailed in the rolling stone account
    • On this at least I can agree – as the entire description given of the attacker is that he was a Junior, and handsome.  I’m willing to stipulate no PKP 2012 Juniors are handsome.  If we’re referring yet again to the single main discrepancy that Drew is not a PKP member, this is now the third time this claim has been presented as a strike against Jackie in a different phrasing.  Because NO nonmembers have ever hung out at a frat house — oh wait…
  • The frat said that the house does not have pledges during the fall semester
    • This is a non-sequitur – neither the RS article, nor Jackie, make this claim.  Jackie claims one of her assailants was encouraged with the phrase: “Don’t you want to be a brother?”  This statement could have been uttered in any number of contexts none of which require formal frat pledges to be underway at PKP.  Also, is it possible that at the end of the ordeal (on Jackie’s account this statement was made by the last assailant before going into a completely dissociative state) she misheard or mis-remembered a phrase involving the word “brother.”  This kind of nit picking is fucking ridiculous.  Elsewhere in a different Washington Post article they sited a similar class of “inconsistency”: “How could Jackie recognize the rapists if the room was pitch black?”  Fuckers.
  • The frat says “…no ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiation process.”
    • Well.  That’s good.  This statement has nothing to do with Jackie’s account – she did not claim the rape was a “ritualized sexual assault that was part of a pledging or initiation process.”  She reported things she recalls being said – it is the reader who interprets those statements as being involved in a pledging or initiation process.  I also find the word “ritualized” very interesting – are they leaving the door open for this statement to still be true in light of potential future discovery that in fact non-ritualized sexual assault is a common part of their party scene, but not part of their pledging or initiation process?
  • The post has interviewed Jackie, dozens of current and former members of the fraternity, and the fraternity’s faculty adviser, Jackie’s friends and former roommates, and others on campus.
    • For the non-Jackie people: Were any of these people with Jackie at the time the assault allegedly occurred?  Were any of these people with either of the identified assailants (Drew and the classmate) at the time the assault allegedly occurred?  If not kindly shut the fuck up.
  • Alex Pinkleton said in an interview that she has had numerous conversations with Jackie in recent days and now feels misled.
    • Misled about what?  This non-quote paraphrased statement is missing sufficient context.  Without the context (misled about what, and what evidence now makes her feel this way), this statement in the article is worse that useless – it leaves the reader with a particular impression that is absolutely not justified by anything in the article.
  • Earlier this week and for the first time, Jackie revealed to friends the full name of her alleged main attacker
    • Her friends determined the named student was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and that other details about his background did not match information Jackie had disclosed earlier
    • Her _FRIENDS_ determined the student was not a member of PKP??? Why the fuck should I listen to them?  How about YOU do some fucking research, T. Rees Shapiro, and put your credibility on the chopping block, and assert that he is not a member of the frat.  So – again, one core discrepancy here is the identify of “Drew.”  Again, that should be cleared up, but it’s one note hit over and over.  Maybe she was confused about Drew’s frat membership.  Maybe she conflated Drew name with someone else.  Maybe both.  Maybe she’s 100% right and in the intervening two years Drew has quietly been scrubbed from the aquatic center employment rolls and frat membership rosters.  Maybe he was never included on one or the other due to clerical error.
  • “Andy,” a student who said Jackie said “something bad happened” and ran to meet her on campus, about a mile from the school’s fraternities
    • The RS article indicates Jackie came to at 3 AM, ran out of the house, realized she was lost, and called her friends.  This does not seem inconsistent with meeting up 1 mile from the house at all.
    • Andy disputes that:
      • Jackie’s dress was bloody
        • Her dress was red, how much blood was there supposed to be?  Presumably she had been unconscious long enough for clotting / drying to happen.  Andy can only dispute that he _noticed_ her dress was bloody.  I see no compelling reason to dismiss Jackie’s claim that her dress was bloody.  If she was like: “my dress was white and I emerged looking like Carrie in that prom scene” this would be a big discrepancy – as it is I do not see it as such.
      • The Phi Kappa Psi house was looming in the background
        • This seems to be legitimately shitty reporting – however the article doesn’t claim that Jackie stated this, the reporter states it.  I wouldn’t trust Jackie or Andy’s (or anyone’s) memory of where this high adrenaline late night encounter on the street occurred to be accurate within the 4-8 block radius of discrepancy here.
      • They debated “the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape” before advising against seeking help
        • Whatever, dipshit – Andy might have remembered the gist differently.  Andy might be telling a self serving lie (he sort of looks like a monster if he doesn’t dispute this).  It seems eminently plausible that any statement other than: “no, I am calling 911 right now.” could have been interpreted by Jackie the way she recalls it.  It’s eminently possible Andy and Jackie said/heard exactly the same things, and interpreted it two different ways.
    • Andy states that Jackie said she had been at a frat party and been forced to perform oral sex on a group of men
      • A – The RS article did not claim this did not happen.
      • B – Assuming she was not forced to perform oral sex, I am going to give Jackie a pass on not telling the gruesome details to a relative stranger just after the event but substituting another act in her description of what happened – especially if what actually occurred in the conversation was Jackie introduced a group assault, and someone else introduced oral sex, and Jackie didn’t deny it.
      • Andy does not remember Jackie identifying a specific house
        • I do not care about what Andy does not recall, and neither should anyone else.  This is another of several statement in the article that _appear_ to undermine Jackie’s account, without actually doing so in any way.
    • Andy states the group offered to get her help, but instead Jackie wanted to return to the dorm – he and the friends spent the night with her to comfort her at her request
      • The RS article affirms Jackie wanted to go back to her dorm room.  It does not deny that Andy offered to get help.  It is silent on what happened after the discussion among these friend outside.  Again – this statement by Andy does not in any way contradict or discredit Jackie, however it’s presentation in the WP article makes it seem like evidence against her account.
  • An anonymous student is quoted as saying “Is there a possibility nothing happened? Sure. I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.”
    • This quote gave me cancer.  In an article whose point is that we need to be rigorous in our reporting we’re going to quote the _opinion_ of an _anonymous_ student with no direct knowledge of any of the events that it is possible nothing happened? I sincerely hope there is no Karma because I don’t wish T. Rees Shapiro, the author of the WP article, to have the veracity of their claims of victim-hood so easily dispatched by know-nothings and journalists who report their idiotic pronouncements as relevant evidence.
  • “Renda” said Thursday Jackie initially told her she was attacked by five students at Phi Kappa Psi.  Renda said she learned months later that Jackie had changed the number of attackers from five to seven.
    • I hope that if I’m ever stabbed repeatedly in a gang attack in a dark alley that I can keep it together enough to remember to keep an accurate count of the assailants and number of puncture wounds so that people will believe me.
  • “Renda” is quoted as saying: “I don’t even know what I believe at this point.”
    • This seems like deliberate quote mining to me – we don’t have the context of what in Renda’s interview that led up to this statement.  Given the sloppy logic I see elsewhere in the article, which may indeed be bad faith and not incompetence, I take absolutely nothing from this statement.
  • The article states: “Renda said research shows that between 2 and 8 percent of rape allegations are fabricated or unfounded.”
    • The fact that a rape awareness advocate’s statement to the effect that “rape reports are almost always founded” is being twisted by context to be used to justify a narrative that this particular report may be unfounded is despicable.
  • Jackie initially asked the RS author to take her out of the article because the repeated interviews were overwhelming.  She relented and agree to participate no the condition she be able to fact-check her parts of the story.
    • Sheesh – it’s almost as if Jackie doesn’t like talking to strangers about this episode, and has a distrust that her statements will be doubted, taken out of context, twisted, manipulated, and denied by people who for whatever reason find utility in rejecting her account.  I wonder why she feels like that?
My takeaways are that the WP article is either a hack job written by someone with an axe to grind, or an incompetent journalist who only states their conclusions, and not the (presumably good) evidence they used to arrive at those conclusions.

 
The article takes at face value many claims of people who either have nothing particular at stake and no particular reason to have authoritative knowledge, and/or people who have a great deal at stake in Jackie being discredited.  The fact that some of these people disagree with Jackie is roughly as surprising as the fact that water is wet.
 
There is a single substantial discrepancy: notably that “Drew” is apparently not a member of PKP.  I am curious to the explanation for this, however there are several plausible explanations that would not undermine Jackie’s story.  Reporting that: “Jackie believed Drew as a PKP, it appears he is not” calls for clarification of how Jackie came to that belief, what who exactly is Drew.  It does not call for dismissal or rejection of Jackie’s claims.
______________________________
 Once again, we know new articles and facts have come to light and more follow-ups have occurred.  However, mad props to our friend for letting us use his writing.  I particularly like “this quote gave me cancer”.  We need more of this thinking in the world.

17 Responses to “Behind the news… guest post from a brand-new patriarchy-blamer!”

  1. KeAnne Says:

    Love this! I agree with every one of your friend’s comments.

  2. Kellen Says:

    I heard about the article on the news, but just went to read it now. I’m sad to see that RS has posted a “disclaimer” above the article now, saying that the WP article has called some facts into question and RS regrets not having done more interviews with the assailants.

    I find it hard to believe that Jackie would fabricate this story, and very easy to believe that everyone else involved would want to either actively cover it up or forget whatever they knew about it. Especially the whole, worldwide fraternity system, regardless of whether they’re affiliated with this fraternity, has an interest in questioning and denying accounts like these, as they are constantly trying to protect their good ol’ boys approach to college socialization.

    Being unfamiliar with campus, and going through a traumatic experience, I would be surprised if Jackie is correct on every detail surrounding the event. Also, 2 years later, I’m sure everyone who heard her account at the time has a blurred memory–I know I would. So keep poking at the story, and you’ll find a couple of holes, sure, but that doesn’t mean that something terrible didn’t happen.

  3. Susan Says:

    THANK YOU. I had exactly the same reaction. Mine was driven by the madly inflammatory headlines; for a few days, the WaPo mobile site carried not one but several iterations of each ‘new revelation’, duplicating articles under varying headlines like ‘key details disputed’. When I read the articles, looking for whether the facts cited matched those headlines, I had … The same thoughts as you.
    It really, really seems like the writer, the editor, or the editorial board has an agenda to push, and it’s not far from an MRA agenda.

  4. chacha1 Says:

    I haven’t read any of the original stories or follow-ups, but given the takedown above I would say with some confidence that both Rolling Stone and the Washington Post need to have some serious staff education about what constitutes “investigative reporting” and what is actually just malicious gossip.

    • plainandsimplepress Says:

      I’m with you, I’m afraid. Whatever the facts, it does appear the Rolling Stone reporter didn’t do what passes for due diligence among the journalistic set. That doesn’t mean that nothing happened; only that the reports we’ve been given don’t prove anything one way or the other.

    • Miriam Says:

      I’ve read a lot of both. Sabrina Erdely made a large mistake by identifying a specific fraternity for the place of Jackie’s assault when Erdely hadn’t verified the frat’s location. The frat supposedly was vandalized and frat members were harassed, so that was not a small thing. Erdely should have left the frat unnamed or made it clear that Jackie’s belief in the location may have been wrong (Jackie clarified that she’d been told by a friend later that it was that frat). But otherwise, no one’s had any disputes with the rest of Erdely’s reporting on campus rape at UVA, which is what the article was actually about, and the substance of Jackie’s account was–and continues to be–corroborated by multiple other people, including the three friends who Wa Po is portraying as disputing it.

  5. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Excellent fucken goddamn motherfucken poste! And even if Jackie’s claims are total fucken bullshittio, what the everloving fucke does that have to do with the heavily documented incontestable facts of endemic college sexual violence elaborated in the RS article?

  6. omdg Says:

    Remember, if someone’s motivations aren’t 100% pure then 100% of their story must be 100% fabricated. It’s also important to remember that it’s physically impossible that a woman was raped if she has mental health issues or if she has done or said things in the past that we don’t agree with.

  7. Miriam Says:

    It’s really nice to see this post because the way mainstream media has been carrying water for rape denialism has made me very flames… flames… on the side of my face. I have so much dislike for Hanna Rosin over her continuing “we should blame Rolling Stone and not blame Jackie, but… *whisper* Jackie’s obviously a crazy, lying loon” type articles. It’s very obvious in the framing of what gets emphasized and what doesn’t for headlines. Jackie interviewed in a follow-up that she had been told by a friend which frat it was. So maybe she was wrong about that (or maybe not, as your friend and others have pointed out, the frat may be lying or mistaken)… and there is basically every significant discrepancy in her account resolved. Meanwhile, her roommate at the time and the three friends strongly corroborated Jackie’s account of the assault. Sure, they defended their own comments and role but they made strong statements that they believed both then and now that Jackie was sexually assaulted.

    (I am so angry with Hanna Rosin in particular because I’ve liked so much of her other writing on gender issues and she edits a woman-focused section of Slate, so I expect better of her).

  8. eemusings Says:

    So glad for this. Rolling Stone’s response has been shameful.

    Christmas has had me mulling over family and deep buried issues (not major, just the typical ways in which family f-ks us all up) and it really made me think, my way of dealing with these small things has been to bury them and forget many of the details as a result, can you imagine how much of a bigger scale that would happen if dealing with an assault like that described by Jackie?!


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