Asking for it: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding, narrated by Erin Bennett

I haven’t really updated the blog in a while. I’m doing Nanowrimo, and I can’t really cope with writing anything else. But then I also get sort of exhausted by the nanowrimo-thing, so I wrote a review of Asking for it by Kate Harding.

The book
I listened to this on audiobook, which was great. Erin Bennett is a great narrator. This is a non-fiction book about rape culture, duh. It’s now been a while since I listened to it, so this review might be a bit short and… not great. Anyways. So the book looks at rape in culture, how we look at rape, and how rape victims are treated in our culture. How this has changed over the years, because while it isn’t great it is better than it was when 11-year-olds were blamed for being gang raped. I mean, it’s not much better, but still. It also looks at rape culture, the things women do to avoid rape. Like, women have all these strategies that we do to avoid rape, which if you explain them to a man would sound crazy. It looks at how advertising, and pop culture, and everything else, affects how we see women who have sex, or how we see women who have been raped.

I remember really liking it. It sounds wrong to like a book about rape (probably just to me, I tend to get sort of hyper aware of my words sometimes and then they sound really weird to me), but while the subject matter is awful and depressing, and everything, Kate Hardin’s writing is really good. It’s blunt, and tough, and badass. It is also very comprehensive, which I like. Well, I say comprehensive. It is mainly focused on rape and rape culture in the western world, but it was fairly comprehensive there. I would be really interested in reading a book on rape and rape culture in say the far east, or somewhere in Africa, and a comparative study. Because I’m a nerd.

It’s very interesting to hear (because I listened to the audiobook) how we as a culture seem to have decided that if you’re raped you have to be a perfect victim. If you’ve had sex before, or if you’ve had sex with the perpetrator before, or if you’re a prostitute, or a porn star, or if you seem to be traumatized, then you’re an imperfect victim, and you cannot be trusted. It’s really weird that we expect rape victims to know absolutely everything of their attack, when they’re probably traumatized, and trauma causes you to forget things and remember things differently, and the fact that those victims are then instantly distrusted is so awful. It is obviously awful to be wrongfully convicted of a crime, but false rape allegations are like 2% of all allegations. 2 percent. And why would you want to falsely accuse someone when you’re likely to not be believed, likely to be forced not to file a complaint, likely to be mistrusted and likely to be smeared? There is a reason most victims of sexual assault don’t report their attack.

It’s really interesting to see how culture is sort of geared to make women into sex objects. No matter what you’re selling you put a half-naked woman in there and whoo! There’s a Norwegian tabloid newspaper (not like the Sun, it’s a fairly old and respected tabloid, which might be an oxymoron) that follows this principle. They use half-naked women to represent everything; cancer, vacations, buying a house, schools, I’m not kidding. It makes us very desensitized to women and women’s bodies. They become this common property, for everyone, and it makes people think they can take the bodies of real-life women as well. Not everyone, obviously. It still makes women’s bodies into property, or things, and it’s very unpleasant, and it’s annoying that advertisers think that if they just put a half-naked woman next to their product you’ll buy it.

Like I said it’s been a while since I listened to this, but I enjoyed it. It was interesting, I think Harding is a great writer, so I liked it. I’d like to read more of her writing.