Book Review: Asking for It by Kate Harding

17836520Dominique 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 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 addressing how we as a culture can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

Rating: 8/10

Sexual assault is an issue that has gained more discussion over the past few years, and rightfully so. From the recent outrage over sexual assaults statistics on college campuses to Bill Cosby, this issue has become a hot button topic in the media, politics, and our homes.

Kate Harding’s book is an essential read for anyone wanting to become more knowledgeable about the facts that surround sexual assault, as well the affect it has on not just those who have been through this horrendous ordeal, but to our society as a whole.

Sexual assault has been an issue for as long as we can remember, and for much of that time, it has gone undiscussed by the majority of society. Now women and men are speaking out, and Harding’s book gives us a great overview of past high-profile cases, laws that have affected this issue, and the reactions to these events.

Harding examines the harmful stereotypes that surround the issue of sexual assault and why these stereotypes exist. I found that her deeper look into the reasons behind our society’s views on sexual assault exist was one of the most valuable aspects of this book. We can talk about what the stereotypes and beliefs are, but if we don’t examine why they exist, it becomes nearly impossible to make things right.

Much of the issues surrounding sexual assault come from the public perception of it. Rather than considering that someone could be a rapist, many would rather assume that the victim is lying. There is focus placed on how the victim was dressed, if they were drinking, and their sexual background rather than on investigating the person accused of the crime. We as a society are just now coming to terms with the fact the intimate partner rape exists, and is even common. Hell, many are still confused as to what consent is.

These are just some of the reasons that sexual assault is a complicated and systemic issue that requires both a change in how the justice system approaches these cases and how our society as a whole thinks about this issue.

Not only does Harding detail the issues but she provides possible solutions. Solutions for reform in how the justice system handles reports of sexual assault and how society views the issue as a whole.

In the end, Harding finishes off this insightful book with hope. There has been some promising legislation that address the issue of sexual assault, and the fact that so many people are talking about this issues brings hope for change. Women and men are not remaining silent anymore, and as more and more people tell their stories, societies views of this issue are beginning to change. Slowly, we see some stereotypes losing their hold as perceptions are changed.

Asking for It is an important book for anyone looking to educate themselves about this issue. It’s informative, even for those who have done some research before. A great book for those who want to educate themselves. One that everyone should read.


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