“Grab its motherfucking leg,” she heard a voice say. And that’s when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.” Many of us have read the recent article in Rolling Stone, sickened by the brutal fraternity gang rape Jackie survived — and outraged by the University of Virginia’s institutional response. “Grab its motherfucking leg.” Not her leg — grab its. I cannot get that line out of my mind, nor can I stop thinking of a powerful scene in Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz. In the chapter “Chemical Examination,” Levi sits across from a civilian chemist, Doktor Pannwitz, who tests Levi on this knowledge of chemistry before deciding whether to admit him to the relatively privileged “Chemical Kommando.” Selection for the chemical commando might save Levi from the gas chamber and that other, lethal selection. Levi describes Pannwitz as “tall, thin, blond; he has eyes, hair and nose as all Germans ought to have them” (105). Levi notes that he feels “like Oedipus in front of the Sphinx” as he searches his memory for the chemical training he had received long before he was reduced to the status of an emaciated haftling. Then those lines: “From that day I have thought about Doktor Pannwitz many times and in many ways. I have asked myself how he really functioned as a man; how he filled his time, outside of the Polymerization and the Indo-Germanic conscience; above all when I was once more a free man, I wanted to meet him again, not from a spirit of revenge, but merely from a personal curiosity about the human soul. Because that look was not one between two men; and if I had known how completely to explain the nature of that look, which came as if across the glass window of an aquarium between two beings who live in different worlds, I would also have explained the essence of the great insanity of the third Germany” (105-6). Back to UVA. What were those young men thinking, both those who participated in the rape and those who stood by watching? What, not who, did they think Jackie was as they lined up to rape her one after the other? What made it possible for one of the rapists to approach her two weeks later and say, “I wanted to thank you for the other night. I had a great time”? Grab its leg. Perhaps if I knew how to explain the nature of that incitement — to explain the thick glass window that made it possible for those young men to sexually assault a struggling, bloodied, pleading, sobbing young women — then I could explain, at least to myself when this keeps me awake at night, what made those young men cheer each other on. Read more:

Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report


http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119#ixzz3Jur4aB73 Follow up: A letter from a friend: Jackie’s story is not a hoax http://www.cavalierdaily.com/blog/on-sexual-assault-letters-from-the-community/2014/12/a-letter-from-a-friend-jackies-story-is-not-a-hoax Rape survivors feel bus-sized weight of Rolling Stone’s ‘misplaced trust’ http://america.aljazeera.com/blogs/scrutineer/2014/12/5/rolling-stone-rapeuniversityvirginiaretraction.html On Being A Journalist And A Sexual Assault Survivor Watching the disintegration of Rolling Stone’s story has been a brutal reminder of the enormous chasm of understanding that too often stands between journalists and survivors. http://www.buzzfeed.com/annawalsh/on-being-a-journalist-and-a-sexual-assault-survivor The lesson of Rolling Stone and UVA: protecting victims means checking their stories http://www.vox.com/2014/12/5/7341973/trauma-rape-allegation-uva From the Washington Post: U. Va. Phi Psi members speak about impact of the discredited gang rape allegations http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-phi-kappa-psi-members-speak-about-impact-of-discredited-gang-rape-allegations/2015/01/14/d781ad90-9c04-11e4-bcfb-059ec7a93ddc_story.html?hpid=z4