Hey, remember New York Times reporter John Eligon? The one who crafted this bit of drunk-shaming apologetic for a couple of alleged rapist NYPD officers? Eligon’s piece, which followed shortly on the heels of this notorious victim-blaming piece by James McKinley, Jr., helped reinforce the Times‘ reputation as a media bastion of rape culture.
And now he’s done it again, in his profile of rape and sexual assault in Williston, North Dakota:
The rich shale oil formation deep below the rolling pastures here has attracted droves of young men to work the labor-intensive jobs that get the wells flowing and often generate six-figure salaries. What the oil boom has not brought, however, are enough single women.
It turns out, according to Eligon, that scarcity economics applies to that commodity Amanda Marcotte refers to as “vaginal access” [content warning applies]:
Here, men talk of a “Williston 10” — a woman who would be considered mediocre in any other city is considered a perfect 10 out here.
“I’ve noticed my standards dropping,” said Ian Hernandez, 24, who moved to Williston from Chicago a couple of months ago. “I just went home two weeks ago. I saw the girls I had planned to see. That, hopefully, should hold me off until I go back next time in two months or so.”
Some men have forced themselves on women.
Jessica Brightbill, a single 24-year-old who moved here from Grand Rapids, Mich., a year and a half ago, said she was walking to work at 3:30 in the afternoon when a car with two men suddenly pulled up behind her. One hopped out and grabbed her by her arms and began dragging her. She let her body go limp so she would be harder to drag. Eventually, a man in a truck pulled up and began yelling at the men and she got away, she said. The episode left her rattled.
Going out alone is now out of the question, and the friend she moved here with no longer has much time to spend with her because she has since found a boyfriend and had a baby. Ms. Brightbill said she has difficulty finding other young single women with the freedom to hang out. And, she said, finding good men does not come easy.
“It’s just people trying to have sex,” she said.
Not that Eligon portrays women in Williston as just hapless victims. Some, he reports, are savvy capitalists seeking to leverage their assets:
Some women have banked on the female shortage. Williston’s two strip clubs attract dancers from around the country. Prostitutes from out of state troll the bars.
Eligon’s only reference in the piece to law enforcement is a mention of a notable increase in local domestic and sexual assaults, and a quick quote from a nearby prosecutor about newcomers not “respecting the laws of people of North Dakota.” He doesn’t mention plans for enforcement of the laws against assaulting women, access to support services for crime victims, or anything, really, of the sort.
Instead, he closes his article with the same old “solution” offered up by everyone who works to shift the blame for sexual assault:
At the urging of her family, Barbara Coughlin, 31, who recently moved to Williston after her 11-year marriage ended, is now getting her concealed weapons permit so she can carry a Taser. Ms. Coughlin, who wore silver glitter around her eyes at work as a waitress on a recent day, said her mother and stepfather, who live here, advised her to stop wearing the skirts and heels she cherishes, so she does not stand out like “a flower in the desert,” as her stepfather put it. Her family hardly ever lets her go out on her own — not even for walks down the gravel road at the housing camp where they live.
“Will I stay for very long? Probably not,” she said. “To me, there’s no money in the world worth not even being able to take a walk.”