Jackie's story to her friends differs from Erdely's reporting. Jackie has accused Erdely of lying, people have accused Jackie of lying, and it is a tornado of lies. This is where Renda fits in. Emily Renda's testimony to the Senate was in June. Here is a passage about a vicious rape on campus.
One of the student survivors I worked with, Jenna*, was gang-raped by five fraternity men early in her freshman year. Despite the severity of the assault and injuries she sustained, Jenna still experienced a feeling of personal responsibility. Looking for affirmation, she sought out peers and told her story. Sadly, each and every one of the friends she reached out to responded with varying denials of her experience; these responses worsened her feelings of self-blame – that she must be confused because that fraternity “is full of great guys”; that she must have made them think she was “down for that”; questioning how no one else at the party could have heard what was going on if she was telling the truth; or discouraging her from seeking help because “you don’t want to be one of those girls who has a reputation” for reporting “that kind of thing.” These statements haunted Jenna. She told me that they made her feel crazy, and made her question whether her own understanding of the rape was legitimate.
Sounds familiar? Jenna was a "changed name" to protect the victim. Is Jenna really Jackie? The section on the social life obsessed friends sticks out and sounds eerily reminiscent of something else I recently read. Here's the callous friends section of the Rolling Stone UVA article.
Their other two friends, however, weren't convinced. "Is that such a good idea?" she recalls Cindy asking. "Her reputation will be shot for the next four years." Andy seconded the opinion, adding that since he and Randall both planned to rush fraternities, they ought to think this through. The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie's rape, while 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. Detached, Jackie listened as Cindy prevailed over the group: "She's gonna be the girl who cried 'rape,' and we'll never be allowed into any frat party again."
There are a lot of similarities. The rape itself involved seven fraternity brothers. It was early in the girl's freshman year. The friends doubted her and were worried about the social implications. The reputation word used. Erdely said she started looking for a college in June. Renda's testimony was in late June. These are all just coincidences, but coincidences worth exploring before the project coordinator to the Vice President of Student Affairs at UVa starts changing policies.
If Jackie doesn't support Erdely's details, did Erdely make them up completely? Did Renda help Erdely fill in details from other attacks she knew of? Is Jenna from the Senate testimony Jackie? If so, why was it 5 men raping her for the Senate but 7 for the Rolling Stone article? If not, does UVa have a campus full of gang rapists and doubting Thomas friends that are obsessed with reputations? That sounds unlikely, but no one is asking Emily Renda. The media should be asking Ms. Renda these questions and her involvement with Erdely's story beyond matchmaker. If she is completely innocent, then Erdely needs to come clean.
This story was a horrible farce. Horrible in the smears and the lies, and the avoidance of actual rapes on campuses across America. It was also a lie in hiding the progressive side involved. Sabrina Erdely wrote this line, "But like most colleges across America, genteel University of Virginia has no radical feminist culture seeking to upend the patriarchy". "Genteel", so you can picture young patriarchs in white suits or seersucker suits sipping cool drinks in the shade of their antebellum mansions. This is all part of Erdely's narrative pitch. It is a narrative with major holes though. "No radical feminist culture" sounds fake to me. What else do we call an activist who pushed lying Jackie and multiple other student activists into the arms of Erdely for a national story? Lying to the national press may not be radical in Erdely's book, but it is to the rest of us.