January 3, 2016


Do not read Jon Krakauer’s Missoula when you are having a good day.

Actually, strike that. A good day is precisely when you should read the book, because it will make you angry. It will make you furious, sad, despondent, and irate. It will ruin your good day — and it should. Everything about rape culture and how our justice system deals with sexual assault is infuriating; Krakauer’s exposé only serves to remind us of how horrible the situation is, and how important it is for us to be jarred from our good days and reminded that everything isn’t okay.

Missoula is ostensibly about a rash of sexual assaults at the University of Montana and the town where it is located, but it is more than just that. It is a look at how insidiously vicious rape culture is, and how the entire justice system—from the police to prosecutors—is inherently re-victimizing victims of sexual assault repeatedly, all while failing to put away the real offenders. It will make you, rightfully, sad and angry at the same time, and you will wonder how we ever let it get this bad.

Sure, the book has its flaws. It lacks a coherent narrative or effective synthesis, presents a mostly-one-dimensional study of each character, relies mostly on the verbatim quoting of court transcripts, and doesn’t delve deeper into the cultural and social constructs that make rape culture so insidious. It is, however, important. It is important in reminding us that most victims of sexual assault will never report the crime because the system is inherently stacked against them, and that when they do report, they are victimized over and over, again and again, by everyone in the system.

Read Missoula and let it ruin your mood on a good day. Important discussions like this deserve to have that strong of an impact.

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