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Book Review: Asking For It

I want to keep this short & sweet (if that’s even possible with me). Kate Harding’s book, Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do About It is such an integral read, especially at this point in our society.

The 2015 release discusses the rape culture that exists in our society today, and its many facets. From the seemingly-innocent “safety tips” that women are often given – which really serve to enforce rape culture – to the politics of rape, to various examples of how the media has handled (mishandled, that is) many of these situations, Harding covers a lot of ground on an important topic. She also discusses the Internet age and the “trolls” that exist nowadays, and how these people are really enacting a form of terrorism, albeit not the kind we might traditionally think of.

Honestly, as someone who identifies as a feminist, I thought this was one of the most important books I’ve read in a while. It’s a 2015 release, so it’s very up-to-date, and undoubtedly a newer version could now be written to discuss our current political state and how it upholds rape culture and portrays sexual assault as somehow okay. (I guess realistically it’d have to be a whole separate book, because oof, it’s a doozy.)

Please, please, please, read this book. As the title states, it certainly is alarming to see this rise of rape culture today. As I read this one, it absolutely made me think of the recent case with NHL player Patrick Kane, and the entire mess that surrounded that case – and just how much support was shown for him, not the victim, and how rape culture ties into every piece of it. Ugh.

Perhaps this book can make us all take a look at how we act in everyday life and if we are, even in small ways, upholding rape culture.

I want to end this review – like I said, a brief one – with a quote from the book itself:

“For as much as feminists are painted as “man-haters”, we’re not the ones suggesting that boys and men lack the ability to think rationally, control their own behavior, or act kindly toward other human beings – even with a boner. We’re the ones who want all of our children to know about meaningful consent, healthy sexuality, and honoring each other’s bodies and boundaries, instead of teaching them that one gender is responsible for managing the other’s helpless animal lust.”

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Book Review: The Beauty Myth

“We do not need to change our bodies, we need to change the rules. Beyond the myth, women will still be blamed for our appearances by whomever needs to blame us. So let’s stop blaming ourselves and stop running and stop apologizing, and let’s start to please ourselves once and for all. The ‘beautiful’ woman does not win under the myth, neither does anyone else. The woman who is subjected to the continual adulation of strangers does not win, nor does the woman who denies herself attention. The woman who wears a uniform does not win, nor does the woman with a designer outfit for every day of the year. You do not win by struggling to the top of a caste system, you win by refusing to be trapped within one at all. The woman wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.

A woman wins by giving herself and other women permission — to eat; to be sexual; to age; to wear overalls, a paste tiara, a Balenciaga gown, a second-hand opera cloak, or combat boots; to cover up or to go practically naked; to do whatever we choose in following — or ignoring — our own aesthetic. A woman wins when she feels that what each woman does with her own body — unforced, uncoerced — is her own business.

When many individual women exempt themselves from the economy, it will begin to dissolve. Institutions, some men, and some women, will continue to try to use women’s appearance against us. But we won’t bite.” – The Beauty Myth

Though there are undoubtedly many key statistics and facts and statements, I felt the above quote nicely summarized my most recent reading, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. What an integral piece of reading for women everywhere – and men, too, for that matter; an imperative look into our society and the world around us and how the beauty myth shapes pretty much every aspect of that, and what we must do to fight back against it.

Wolf examines several key pieces of life: work, culture, religion, sex, hunger and violence, and picks apart each one to discuss how the beauty myth is present in that specific topic.

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Book Review: First Women

It took me a little bit to get through this one, but Kate Anderson Brower’s First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies provides a fascinating look into the lives of some of the most well-known women in the United States. Of course, while they are often infamous simply due to their political stature, we often on’t think about their real lives and what being the First Lady really means.

I mean, yes, obviously it means that your husband (in most cases) is President of the United States. And you get to live in the White House, which seems like it would be incredibly neat. But upon reading this book, you start to think about how it could be a little bit lonely. You’re both very isolated and very much in the public eye at the same time. You have to attend all these huge events, like State Dinners and things, but you can’t even take a basic trip to Target. (Something I, a ‘normal’ person, clearly take for granted.)

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