From the cases of Harvey Weinstein and Les Moonves to the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, our country is engaged in a sustained confrontation with the problem of sexual assault and other types of misconduct toward women. This week, we’re bringing you pieces that consider the complexities of women’s experiences on campuses and in high schools across the country. In “Trouble in Lakewood,” from 1993, Joan Didion reports from California on a community’s struggle with teen-age rape culture; in “Trial by Twitter,” from 2013, Ariel Levy meets the online vigilantes in Steubenville, Ohio, who try to secure justice through social media. Katha Pollitt, in “Not Just Bad Sex,” takes on the argument that sexual assault is overreported on campuses, and Rebecca Mead, in “Two Beds and the Burdens of Feminism,” shows how one artwork—Tracey Emin’s “My Bed”—maps the fault lines in our ideas about sexual autonomy. Jeannie Suk Gersen considers a complex case at a New England prep school that highlights our changing understanding of rape. Finally, Jia Tolentino reports from Columbia University, where a group of researchers—having conducted “the most rigorous, nuanced, and wide-ranging examination of the problem that has ever been carried out on a college campus”—are developing new methods to battle assault. Our culture is undergoing a seismic shift in how we pay attention to women’s stories. These pieces capture it.

—David Remnick


“Safer House”

“Sexual assault on campus is frequently portrayed as lurid and dark and complex. But the experiences that live in our heads are often obvious and ordinary, sometimes heartbreakingly so.” Read more.


“Two Beds and the Burdens of Feminism”

“For all the parallels that may be drawn between the two works, they do not derive from identical experiences: Emma Sulkowicz’s unadorned mattress signifies a rape, a stark violation, while Tracey Emin’s bed suggests a multiplicity of more ambiguous stories.” Read more.


“Trouble in Lakewood”

“Almost everyone agreed that this was a town in which what had been considered the definition of good parenting—the encouragement of assertive behavior among male children—had for some reason got badly out of hand.” Read more.


“Not Just Bad Sex”

“Clearly, Katie Roiphe’s message is one that many people want to hear: sexual violence is anomalous, not endemic to American society, and appearances to the contrary can be explained away as a kind of mass hysteria, fomented by man-hating fanatics.” Read more.


“St. Paul’s School and a New Definition of Rape”

“The case, as was clear from the national coverage, was about much more than these individuals and whether they had consensual sex.” Read more.


“Trial by Twitter”

“The Internet is uniquely qualified as a venue for public shaming; it is a town square big enough to put all the world’s sinners in the stocks.” Read more.

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