4 things we've learned about a Rolling Stone author's rape bias
As the trial over a discredited gang-rape article from Rolling Stone continues into its second week, CBS19 has released a recording of the story's author from the day she interviewed the rape hoaxer.
Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author, said several things during the interview that made her bias and desire for sensationalism quite clear. K.C. Johnson, professor and co-author of the book about the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax, highlighted some of the most interesting excerpts from the 150-minute interview.
1. Erdely really hates fraternities
I don't know if Erdely had some bad experience in her past with a fraternity member or at a fraternity, or if she's seen one too many movies showing fraternities to be boorish rape dens, but she certainly holds some serious ill will toward such institutions and their members.
It seems that it was Erdely who made the suggestion that the alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia was part of a fraternity initiation.
"It doesn't do anybody any good to say: 'Oh, there's a fraternity on campus that may actually be, uh, you know, have an initiation of gang-rape initiation ritual,'" she said while trying to get "Jackie," the name used to refer to the story's subject, to agree to name the specific fraternity she was accusing.
In addition, Erdely said the fraternity "might have a culture of gang rape" and that the members of Phi Kappa Psi — where Jackie claimed the gang rape took place — represented a "banality of evil." Erdely also told Jackie she wanted to "get these guys" and insisted that going after the fraternity member Jackie claimed orchestrated the gang rape would demonstrate her power over him.
"I was actually going to say, like, he's probably more terrified of you because even though, like, I mean you feel helpless in the situation, but like you actually have all the power," Erdely said. "You know, you have so much power over him. You could destroy him."
2. Like, really thought negatively of fraternities
At another point in the conversation, Erdely starts citing a study she read that purported to show fraternity members were more likely to rape and have inappropriate beliefs about rape.
"Like, there is something — and there's actually research to suggest that, like, fraternity members are more likely to, you know, rape — they are more likely to rape people," Erdely said. "They're also more likely to have, like, maybe like rape supportive attitudes, you know like to be more sexually aggressive," and to hold attitudes that suggest it's okay to sleep with a drunk woman after another man already has.
3. Erdely came into the story with her own preconceived notions about college and sexual assault
After Jackie claimed to have talked to one of her former friends who said he wouldn't participate in the article, Erdely, accepting what she said as fact, insisted this was evidence of "rape culture."
"In a weird way, this is actually part of the rape culture stuff that we're even talking about, like, on campus," Erdely said. "The kind of stuff that helps to perpetuate sexual assault."
4. Erdely already believed students actively discouraged accusers from coming forward
Jackie was talking about how her former friends who came to her after she told them she was gang raped didn't want to participate in Erdely's article. Erdely then went on a long rant about how Jackie's friends cared more about their reputation than her, and implied that's what it's like at all colleges.
"And again, this actually gets into sort of the heart of the story is that, like, the story that's kind of taking shape, which is that, the idea that like social capital is actually more important than people's safety and their, like, health, and like, you know, and the idea that like, people are afraid to report their rapes or talk about being raped because they might be blackballed and, like, nobody's even going to help, like, their friends because, like, they're afraid that, like, something – they're going to take some kind of social, um, backlash because of it," she said. "That's just, like, crazy."
Now remember, the conversation Jackie allegedly had with her friends that night, in which they discussed their own reputations and discouraged her from reporting, did not happen the way she described. The three friends each told their story of what happened that night — which were consistent with one another — and which contradicted Jackie's claim. Indeed, her friends said they begged her to go to the police and the hospital but that Jackie refused.
They also said she was crying, but not wearing a damaged and bloody dress, as Jackie had claimed.