There were two seemingly unrelated news stories last week that The Scrapbook has been pondering. The first is about another high-profile campus rape story that seems to be falling apart. A student named Emma Sulkowicz turned her alleged rape in August 2012 into an art project, carrying a mattress around the Columbia University campus to symbolize her victimhood after the university had failed to expel her alleged rapist. As a result of her symbolic protest, Sulkowicz has received a great deal of media attention as well as an award from the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. Last month, Sulkowicz was invited by New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand to attend the State of the Union address, in order to raise awareness of sexual violence on campus.
But thanks to some stellar reporting by Weekly Standard contributor Cathy Young (in a piece last week for the Daily Beast), we now know that the facts undergirding Sulkowicz’s claims of victimhood are weak and that Columbia’s “failure” to expel the man Sulkowicz accused looks more than justified. Young reported that the accused man willingly provided reams of communications between the two that appear to document the two contentedly involved in a consensual sexual relationship before and after the supposed rape occurred. While Young didn’t definitively exculpate the accused man—that might be impossible—her reporting made it clear that Sulkowicz’s accusations were problematic and never should have been given such uncritical acceptance.
The former opinion editor for the Columbia Spectator wrote a column subsequently concluding that “we, the members of the campus media, failed specifically with Sulkowicz’s story by not being thorough and impartial.” Naturally, Young was attacked by the feral online feminist community for her fealty to the facts and accused of “victim blaming.” There was the obligatory Twitter hashtag campaign—#TheresNoPerfectVictim—and angry rants abounded. An article in Salon accused Young of impeding “the battle to remake the institutions and cultural norms that foster rape and protect rapists.”
The second story is the news that Harper Lee is going to publish a second novel. Now there is more than a little controversy surrounding the sudden discovery of her early unpublished novel, but along with it came the usual gushing about how Lee’s famous coming-of-age novel influenced many an American childhood and reshaped our perceptions of race for the better. However, it occurs to us, after reflecting on what happened to Cathy Young, that a reassessment of To Kill a Mockingbird is probably long overdue.
By the standards of America’s angry, young, third-wave feminists, Harper Lee must be America’s most beloved rape apologist. What Atticus Finch did in the courtroom to question Mayella Ewell’s account of being assaulted by Tom Robinson is a textbook example of what feminists call the “second rape” that occurs when rape victims seek justice. Indeed, one could hardly blame Mayella if she wanted to draw attention to this by dragging a chiffarobe around Maycomb.
And we hesitate to mention disturbing scenes of Dill kissing Scout, a sobering reminder that microaggressions against women begin at an early age. It’s probably only a matter of time before this misogynist “literature” is seen for what it is and the push to expunge it from the required reading lists begins in earnest. One hopes the feminist community steady themselves on their fainting couches in preparation for the horrors the next Harper Lee novel likely contains.