Book Review – Asking for it by Louise O’Neill

Asking for it by Louise O’Neill
Published:September 3rd 2015 by Quercus UK
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, Fiction, realistic fiction
Pages: 346

“We need to talk about rape. We need to talk about consent. We need to talk about victim-blaming and slut-shaming and the double standards we place upon our young men and women.
We need to talk and talk and talk until the Emmas of this world feel supported and understood. Until they feel like they are believed.”

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This book is about a fictional character named Emma – but Emma is every girl who has ever been assaulted. Who has every thought that maybe she deserved it or that it was her fault. Emma wakes up after a night of partying and doesn’t remember a thing, but there are pictures of her online that shakes her to the core. “What did she do?” Is her thought, but the question everyone should be asking is “what was done to her?” And “How could they do this to her?” The most disturbing thing to me in this book, which also exists in society is the victim blaming and victim shaming. The comments I myself have heard friends say about rape victims “what did she expect?”, “she was practically asking for it if she was wearing that” or “what was she doing there, she should have been there in the first place!” And this needs to stop. We need to take a long hard look at what we are trying to protect or what offends us if we shift the blame to the victims.

“When did we all become fluent in this language that none of us wanted to learn?”

O’Neill writes in a way that cut’s through all the bullshit and displays it on the page and there’s nothing to hide behind. The double standards. The shame. The hurt. You’ve heard the statistics, “one in five women will be raped at one point in their lives” – one in five is Emma. Emma doesn’t remember, but there are pictures online. How many women has had pictures posted online of themselves that they don’t want there? (Followed by the victim blaming again “if she didn’t want anybody to see those pictures then why did she take them in the first place?) The author uses repetition as a great way of searing the issue to your brain and showing just how haunting it can be when something like this happens to you. And it’s never the individual persons problem, we, society have to take responsibility as a whole!

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”
“I don’t know, Em.” Bryan takes a gulp from his water bottle. “It’s a bit slutty, isn’t it?”
I stare pointedly at the FHM poster Blu-Tacked on the wall opposite the bed, of some topless model, one finger in her mouth, the other hand reaching into her knickers.
“That’s different.”

The book shows it all from Emma’s perspective, the act, the shame, the hurt. It shows how it affects not only the victim but everyone around her. It’s not a fairytale, it’s not a story with a happy ending, it’s not a typical teenage romantic comedy; it’s a typical story of real life pain that happens everyday. This is an important topic. And this is a great book to start a conversation.

I did a poll on Instagram to see which cover people most responded to, and to my surprise the crying cover got most votes! Personally I like the Barbie better! In the end the Barbie cover got 39% of the votes and the Crying cover got 61%. Thanks to everyone who voted!

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