“Women lie about sexual assault all the time”.
“Girls, you don’t get to ‘cry rape’ the next morning just because you regret acting so slutty”.
“False allegations are so much worse than rape itself”.
These are some of the infuriating sentiments being bandied about by Men’s Rights Activists in the fallout from a magazine story in the US that has turned a glaring spotlight on the way that sexual assault is talked about and reported.
Here’s what happened:
In November this year, Rolling Stone, a magazine that was established in 1967 and prides itself on its investigative reporting of the music industry and politics, published an article titled ‘A Rape on Campus’. The article included an account from a woman named ‘Jackie’, a student from University of Virginia, who told Rolling Stone journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely that she was gang-raped in 2012 during a party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
The Rolling Stone story, ‘A Rape on Campus’.
Since then, people and groups have come forward to dispute Jackie’s account. The fraternity issued a statement via The Washington Post vehemently denying the rape claim and disputing Jackie’s facts.
Other students have also spoken to the media questioning Jackie’s account. Other witnesses said that, while she did seem shaken after the alleged attack, she just wanted to return to her dorm (rather than go immediately to police).
University of Virginia’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house (via wikipedia)
The backlash against Jackie.
The Washington Post has now published a series of scathing articles questioning Jackie’s version of events and criticising Rolling Stone for failing to adequately fact-check Jackie’s story before publication.
In response, Rolling Stone‘s managing editor Will Dana issued a statement offering an explanation and partial defence for how reporter Erdely went about the story. The statement said that “Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone‘s editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie’s credibility”.
Rolling Stone also published a statement (which they quickly retracted) distancing themselves from Jackie and saying that their trust in her had been “misplaced”. The amended version of that statement now states that the “mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.”