Review: Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

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Trigger Warning: Rape

As I told a friend this evening this was not necessarily a book I wanted to read. It was a book I felt I had to read, especially given the recent despicable miscarriages of justice within North America this year, and those in previous years.

I read this in one sitting, with a tight throat and tears in my eyes because it was well written and far too real in a society where people care more about the fate of rapists than their victims.

I found it important that Emma was written as selfish and mean. It’s hard to articulate but I will try to explain why. She is the poster child stereotype of girls who are “asking for it.” Or seen to be asking for it, which is ridiculous. No one asks for this, no one deserves to be treated as she is in this book, as women are in the news.

This book illustrates how ridiculous our culture is when it comes to crimes such as this. It’s horrific and tragic that girls have to be taught how not to be raped when boys are just being boys in their cruelty.

I once read that by teaching one girl how not to be raped, we are forgetting about other girls who might be less protected. Less safe. More in danger. That stuck with me and so too will this novel.

Also yes, I understand that men get raped too, and I hate that rape culture allows them to be told that they should have enjoyed it.

Clearly something needs to change, and I can only hope it will within my lifetime.

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