“…I was astounded by the ignorance of acquaintance rape… A very old concept of rape prevails. According to this mind-set, there can only be two precursors to rape: (1) A stranger jumps out of the bushes; (2) There is no rape unless the woman put up a fight, to the death if necessary.”
Joanne Fargo, one of the jurists in Jordan Johnson’s rape trial, says this to Jon Krakauer in a private interview months after Johnson’s trial has been concluded. The quotation is one of the most succinct explanations in Missoula of the common rape myths that prevent many acquaintance rapists from being brought to justice. Many people mistakenly believe that rapes occur only between strangers and that victims logically respond to being raped by violently fighting off their attackers. They overlook the statistical evidence that says that more than 90% of rapes occur between people who are acquainted in some way. Even when people do accept that acquaintance rapes occur, they often retain the mistaken belief that being raped by someone you know is “not as bad,” not as psychologically damaging, as being raped by a masked intruder. It is important to note, however, that Fargo says that she and the jury did not acquit Johnson because of these rape myths. They acquit him because there is a reasonable doubt as to whether Johnson knew that Cecilia Washburn had withdrawn consent. But serving as a jury member on the case, Fargo says, meant that she was constantly bombarded by these incorrect stereotypes about rape.