The Story of Jane Doe: A Book About Rape

jane doe


“Feminism has not gone away or become less relevant. Patriarchy has not gone away. Women are not equal. We suffer under the delusion that patriarchy no longer exists, forgetting that it rules us. The word is hard to spell and everyone looks at you funny when you use it. Patriarchy is so acceptable, so ingrained, that saying we have to get rid of it is like saying we have to get rid of bread. The male oppression of women and other similarly marginalized groups through systems has not gone away. Our work is to identify it. Feminism, with its hope and joy and commitment to equality, has not gone away. We have only just begun to sort it out.”

This book made me so angry. A few books have made me angry this month, but those books were terrible. This is a good book, a necessary book, and a book about a topic that makes me oscillate between set-things-on-fire rage and nothing-will-ever-change sorrow. It’s been a weird month for me (go back and read the Building the Orange Wave recap for a primer) and I keep trying to comfortably situate myself as a political apathetic. But I’m fucking not, is the thing. Jane Doe was raped in 1986 by the Balcony Rapist and spent more than a decade fighting a civil lawsuit, eventually demonstrating that the Toronto police service used her as bait and failed to effectively warn women that they might be raped. They did this because of rampant institutionalized sexism in the police force. These are things they had to admit.

Jane Doe wrote this book in 2003, and she wrote it because she wanted to start a revolution. It’s the tail end of 2014, and this year has seen a public conversation about things like Gamergate and missing and murdered Aboriginal women. But we talk about it until we stop talking about it, because there are other, easier things to discuss than the fact that women are being oppressed. So this book made me angry. In the decade since it was written, in the near 30 years since the Balcony rapes, you’d think the seeds of a revolution could be planted, and perhaps they have been. Talking about it is a good place to start. But we have to keep talking about it.

Books read: 34


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