Review: Asking for It – Kate Harding

asking for itDominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest. Congressman Todd Akin’s “legitimate” gaffe. The alleged rape crew of Steubenville, Ohio. Sexual violence has been so prominent in recent years that the feminist term “rape culture” has finally entered the mainstream. But what, exactly, is it? And how do we change it? 

In Asking for It, Kate Harding answers those questions in the same blunt, bullshit-free voice that’s made her a powerhouse feminist blogger. Combining in-depth research with practical knowledge, Asking for Itmakes the case that twenty-first century America—where it’s estimated that out of every 100 rapes only 5 result in felony convictions—supports rapists more effectively than victims. Harding offers ideas and suggestions for addressing how we as a culture can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

Rating:: 4/5

Kate Harding’s book takes a long hard look at modern rape culture, particularly as it stands in the last few years, and it’s an infuriating read. Infuriating, of course, because its 2015 and we have to sit here going “This shit is STILL happening?”

Rape culture manifests in a myriad ways…but its most devilish trick is to make the average, noncriminal person identify with the person accused, instead of the person reporting the crime. Rape culture encourages us to scrutinize victims’ stories for any evidence that they brought the violence onto themselves – and always to imagine ourselves in the terrifying role of Good Man, Falsely Accused, before we ‘rush to judgment’. 

The book covers a range of topics, from assault on college campuses to MRAs, false rape accusations and online trolls. As the author herself pointed out, however, she tried not to make it all doom and gloom, and indeed, includes advice on how to try change this pervasive culture and celebrates milestones that have been achieved in terms of women’s rights.

Anyone can be raped, but men aren’t conditioned to live in terror of it, nor are they constantly warned that their clothing, travel choices, alcohol consumption, and expressions of sexuality are likely to bring violations upon them.

There are many, many paragraphs that I wished to quote from the book, but managed to restrain myself. In short, Asking for It is a really important read, looking at how we ourselves, and society as a whole, perpetuate rape culture – and how to change our behavior and perceptions to combat this.

It’s a maddening catch-22. If we get assaulted while walking home in the dark, we’re told we should have used our heads and anticipated the danger. But it we’re honest about the amount of mental real estate we devote to anticipating danger, then we’re told we’re acting like crazy-man haters, jumping at shadows and tarring an entire gender with the brush that rightly belongs to a relatively small number of criminals.

***

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.

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6 thoughts on “Review: Asking for It – Kate Harding

  1. Fantastic review. This is such an important topic. It’s awful to think this is STILL HAPPENING, like you said. It would be great if we would have evolved enough as a human species, but awareness and education (like this book) is a good way to counteract other voices and thoughts.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

    (keep in touch; I always comment back!)

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  2. Amazing review. I will make time for this one indeed, and make sure to recommend it to everyone I know as well. It’s as you say, we – at least – must be informed and aware.

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  3. Thanks Ramona. I’m trying to read more nonfiction this year, so I pick things that cover issues I’m personally interested in as well. The author’s style is also very readable, which is always a blessing with non fiction.

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  4. Yes. Well, all you have to do is read up on the Republican’s take of women rights and I can bet you my books that you will see red. Aikin was a tool, but that’s not a surprise considering the party he stood for don’t really respect women all that much.

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