From Congressman Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” gaffe to the high school rapists of Steubenville, Ohio, to the furor at Vanderbilt, 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 has made her a powerhouse feminist blogger. Combining in-depth research with practical knowledge, Asking for It makes 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 how we, as a culture, can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.
I have many reasons to be thankful for this book. Firstly, it opened my eyes to a harrowing world that I have fortunately never been witness or victim to; secondly, it has been a damn good read and thirdly (and quite frankly, most importantly) it highlighted that I too am guilty of some of the negative responses to rape that feature in this book and it has therefore made me change my opinion.
Asking For It, or to give the book its full title Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is a study of the perceptions that we as society have about rape. Much to my shame, I have to admit that I have said on nights out that a girl wearing a short outfit or walking alone that she should have been more careful or maybe covered up a bit more. After reading this I am ashamed of my comments and beliefs. Just because someone wears an outfit that others would deem as provocative does not constitute her being “fair game” or “up for it.”
I do believe that we have to be careful and protect ourselves but the fact that I have to think like that is shocking. The statistics and figures that feature in this book make you realise what an epidemic (and believe me when I say epidemic) crimes of a sexual nature are.
This book is (and should be a harrowing read) however, Kate Harding does lighten the load by making a mockery of the presumed notions and consistent fallacies that are believed about rape which does make some of the more harrowing passages less difficult to read.
Everyone should read this book if only for a new perspective. I was extremely naïve and uneducated – I still am, one book hasn’t changed that fact – however, I do feel that I have more of an insight into this contentious subject matter now that I have read Asking For It.
Believe me when I say that this is an important book.
Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is available now.
Follow Kate Harding (@KateHarding) on Twitter.