5 books that explore the damaging effects of rape culture
Unless you’ve been living in a vacuum, chances are you’ll have heard about the Brock Turner case that’s been causing outrage on a global scale.
The affluent swimmer has been convicted of raping an unconscious woman, but received a light sentence from the judge because it would “severely impact” him.
Recently, the spotlight has been shone on rape and how victims are perceived, shamed and blamed for their own assaults and rapes. This case, in particular, seems to have broken the flood gates wide open. And rightly so.
We’re living in a society that not only thinks the onus is on the victim to be more responsible, but that they should also try to avoid being raped by enforcing behaviours that won’t “cause” rapists to lose their self-control.
Which is ridiculous and doesn’t actually address the problem of how to actually stop rapists from raping.
There are a wealth of books that have recently been published that address the issue; many we’ve read and reviewed and some we still want to.
The list of books below are our absolute must-reads.
READ MORE: Drinking and sex: What does too drunk to consent mean?
Recently published local non-fiction read, Michelle Hattingh’s harrowing and no-holds barred account of her rape is heartbreaking, shocking and brutally honest. What makes her story so unbelievably horrific is that she was raped on the very day she presented her thesis about men’s perceptions about rape.
In an excerpt we recently featured, the book details the shocking lack of sympathy, empathy and support she received from both the police and health care professionals and emphasises just how long we have to go in terms of how to handle and deal with cases involving rape and sexual assault.
Another important book that we think needs to be read is Louise O’Neil’s novel, which not only explores the pervasiveness of victim-blaming and the ugly attitudes associated with it, but it deals with consent, body agency and slut-shaming.
It’s a book that also tackles exactly what happens when victims can’t remember exactly what happened to them, and the mob mentality of shaming that follows without any consideration that, unconscious or not, it’s never, ever, ever the victim’s fault.
Here’s why you should add this book to your reading list.
All the Rage, written by Canadian author Courtney Summers has been making waves and getting lots of people talking about the book as it’s about a girl who deals with the aftermath of rape and the “golden boy” who couldn’t possibly be responsible for it.
The insidious nature of how rape protects the assaulter and punishes the victim is interwoven and thread throughout the novel, and the review we featured on Women24 highlights yet again how society protects people based on their image and social status as opposed to believing the word of girl who hails from the wrong side of the tracks.
It’s a book that details how prolific the silencing of women’s voices – especially women who are victims of rape and sexual assault – are and how shame automatically becomes a part of the victim’s identity.
Read this book. It will change your life.
What some people don’t understand about rape is that it is something that haunts and stays with the victims for years. Some people learn to cope, some still struggle, and many are broken beyond repair.
In Luckiest Girl Alive, the protagonist of the book seems to have it all. She’s got a job most would kill for, is about to marry the man of her dreams and has enough money to uphold her wealthy lifestyle.
However, our protagonist is also a woman who is haunted by the events in her past – she was gang raped by three different boys when she was just a 14-year old girl.
Those who knew, didn’t label it as rape.
And that sentence above, is all you need to know about why conversations and books about rape culture, sexual assault and abuse are desperately needed.
Read our review here
South Africa has a rape problem. In fact, in many instances we’ve been labelled as the “world’s rape capital.” It’s not something we like to hear, but it’s important that we acknowledge this in order for better conversations and more action to be taken.
In her book, Pumla Gqola unpacks and disseminates the patterns and trends of various and high profile rape cases (the Zuma rape trial being one of them), deciphering South Africa’s on-going battle with rape while also going into detail about the perceptions that still exist and persist today.
Unfortunately sexual assault is not something that can be eradicated all that easily, but we hope that with books like these, Pumla’s in particular, more understanding can be gleaned from it.