First things first, a disclaimer: As you can see from the title of this post, today’s book review covers rape culture, specifically in America. I want to be clear in case that is a trigger for anyone reading this. I won’t be talking about rape in detail in this review, but it’s hard to not mention when talking about this book.
I gave this book 5 stars.
This book, Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It, bravely written by Kate Harding, is a book that I would argue that everyone needs to read and give some serious thought. The book does exactly what the subtitle suggests – dives into much of the origin and rise of rape culture, and provides some suggestions about ways to recognize/battle the pernicious myths that surround rape, especially in the USA (where the book focuses its attention).
I will say that as someone already interested in and appalled by rape culture (and other by-products of rampant and pervasive misogyny), this book didn’t tell me too much that I didn’t already know. Each chapter could have been expanded into a book, and Harding even mentions that most topics are covered on a surface level, mainly because her book is a starting point. It is an introduction and a discussion, and a great one, at that. I didn’t learn a whole lot of new concepts, but I was able to examine some familiar concepts from angles I hadn’t previously encountered, and gained a lot of new vocabulary with which to express myself when I find myself in debates, full of self-righteousness and passion, but grasping to find an anchor to steady my stance. This book provides many such anchors, and while is a very worthwhile read, it can seem a little too heavy at times.
Although I had heard of many of the concepts/facts/myths/trials discussed in the book, I found a new and more profound disgust for the way that we think about and treat rape in this country. The information in this book made me question humanity, privilege, worth, and so much more. My one critique of the book is more an indictment of society than of the author: although she attempts to throw in ways that we can combat rape culture and successes that have been made on that front, there are relatively few things to mention that can push away the darkness that this book can invoke at times.
As bogged down as I felt reading this book sometimes, I still declare that everyone should. Because part of the problem with rape culture is that we are in the middle of it and it is sometimes hard to see what is always all around you. The spread of knowledge/awareness is at the heart of battling this unfortunate phenomenon. As a way to spread information, this book is invaluable, especially because there are many for whom this book may be a complete paradigm shift, and there is no shame in that as long as you remain open-minded and mentally able to shift.
All-in-all, I think everyone, from the completely unaware to the fully woke can appreciate this book, and it is written in a way that makes it accessible and relatable. Often times, the words come off as though Harding is conversing with a friend rather than laying out heartbreaking information. That, actually, is the highlight of this book – it feels like a conversation rather than a sermon. However, I will admit that if you find yourself butting up against one of the topics in the book, Harding’s tone makes it clear that you should try harder to understand and “get it,” because you are heartless/ignorant if you don’t.
This is my first non-fiction review (as though I’ve done so many anyway, lol), and I hope that I sparked your interest in this book, even a little. Do yourself and the world a favor, and read it.
Here’s to advocating for something better…