This month Nonfiction Book Club, hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, has been reading Missoula by Jon Krakauer, and it’s time for Discussion #2. Here are the questions from Katie, along with my answers.
Did you finish the book feeling as though there was action you could take?
Not really. I guess I can be sympathetic to a woman who identifies herself as a rape victim, but unless someone comes forward and talks to me about it, I won’t know. I’d also like to think I would be just as sympathetic whether or not I’ve read this book. I think one thing that needs to change is the ‘stigma’ of rape left over from a century ago when a girl was ‘ruined’ by rape and the ‘no man would ever want her now’ mentality, however, I don't really feel that there is any action that I can take that would make a difference.
Did this book change your perception of any aspect of rape cases?
I’m not sure, because I’m not sure I ever gave it a lot of thought previously. I am probably more aware of how vulnerable young women can be — and how naive. I guess I’m also more aware of how big a difference education could make; for young men to understand recognize what rape is, for young women to understand and recognize when they are putting themselves in a dangerous situation, and for both young men and young women to recognize the large role alcohol apparently plays in many of these situations.
Did you enjoy this and/or would you recommend this to someone else?
I don’t think ‘enjoy’ is a word I would use to describe my experience with this book. I can say that it wasn’t as difficult a read as I expected. I think I expected the writing to be a bit dry and heavy on facts, but was a much more personal telling. And while nothing here was pleasant, it wasn’t as bad as I’d set myself up for. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to anyone in particular; maybe if I knew a young woman headed of the college, or the parent of a young woman headed off to college, I’d recommend it as a read to make her aware of how quickly things can go bad so that she won’t head off as naive and unprepared as these women were. I hope this doesn’t come off as ‘blaming the victim’ because that is not what I want to do. It may not be fair that she has to take precautions to avoid being raped, but to me it is kind of not driving through a ‘bad neighborhood’ if you don’t have to.
Do you have any new thoughts on the topics of the questions from the first half of the book, particularly the value of this book and the author’s possible biases?
I don’t think my views have changed much. I sensed that the author was biased before, and he confirmed that at the end of the book. At least I understand WHY he presented such a one-sided view now. I guess I just wish he would have given a little balance to the book by including stories young men being victimized when the couple each interpreted the situation differently, or because the woman outright lied. If you are going to improve the way these cases are handled, you have to consider all possibilities to find a way to uncover the truth. Of course, the book did a great job of showing us that getting at the truth is not what our legal system is about. And I can understand that the author was focused on exposing the injustice in the system at a specific place and time, so confined himself to cases in Missoula.
Have you been participating in the Read-Along this month? What did you think of the book? You can see my discussion one answers here. Be sure to visit the discussion page on Katie’s blog to check-in with your answers and to learn what other readers think of the book!