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Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  3,629 ratings  ·  448 reviews
Dominique 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,
Paperback, 261 pages
Published June 27th 2015 by Da Capo Lifelong Books (first published December 9th 2014)
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Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Just a week before I saw this book, I had a shocking moment of self-awareness. I was reading a post on an internet forum site called Reddit about someone feeling guilty about cheating on his girlfriend. A man described a night which involved him going to a female friend's house, being plied with drinks, getting completely wasted, and subsequently being persuaded into having sex with her.

My initial thought: typical guy trying to weasel out of cheating.

First comment under his post: Mate, you were
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Human beings
"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."

Upon reading Aski
I have put off reviewing this book, despite having finished it days ago, because... reasons. There's so much I want to say and I don't even know where to start, and so many of the thoughts running through my head make me so angry and hopeless... it's just a bit daunting. But I hate having unreviewed books hanging over my head, so here goes the ramble...

I've never thought of myself as a feminist. I didn't give feminism much thought at all until very recently, honestly. I love the progress that w
I wish I lived in a country where my politicians didn’t say things like…

“Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” ~Clayton Williams, Texas

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down.” ~Todd Akin, Missouri

“Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.” ~Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania

“Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.” ~Richard Mourdock, Indiana

…but I don’t.

I w
Ivie dan Glokta
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was written in a form of a high school essay albeit a long winded one. Take someone else's work, quote – elaborate on it some and call it a day....Still the topic is well worth the time and effort of reading it, and I must say the review below is not short. In fact when you see it you'll most probably be like:
marty im scared: marty im scared

My answer – you fucking should be.

The cases described in this book are for the large part extremely well known cases, and in my opinion have been covered in better ways and from
Julie Ehlers
I've been a big fan of Kate Harding's writing for several years now, mostly as it appeared on her now-mostly-defunct blog, Shapely Prose, but her first full-length book was a disappointment to me. That, coupled with the fact that I read this on the heels of a couple of books on similar topics, made me a bit wary to pick this one up. Now that I have, though, I'm very glad I did.

Asking for It provides a lot of the same depressing statistics as other books on the subject of rape; where it differs i
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this audio over the course of two days last August while driving back and forth to Maine. I bookmarked quotes and upon finishing, I felt I needed a few weeks to just sit with the information before attempting to reduce it to a review. I must’ve listened on Hoopla because when I went back to get it, it was gone...and it has been weighing on my mind ever since.

I will be buying this book, for myself and for every girl I love entering college. I will re-listen & read it again. More tha
Alice Lippart
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Informative and devastating.
Genia Lukin
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This book started, for me, when I got sick of the "wrongs of feminism" and "legal inequality" line of comments on various internet sites that shall forever go unnamed.

It's all about how feminism's past its time, you see, and how feminists are just coming up with imaginary problems, how entitled and petty they are, and if they were living in the third world, they'd know what real inequality and abuse were.


The notion that feminism's job is "done" somehow - that Western society, at least, ac
Marjorie Ingall
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grownups, young-adult
Terrific. Don't even read my review, just go buy this fucker right now.

Are you still here?


I am old enough to remember the Madge the Manicurist "You're soaking in it!" commercials (shut up), and this book reminded me of Madge's sly yet perky assertion: We really ARE immersed in it, with "it" in this case being a culture that devalues women. And their stories of assault, yes...but more than that, their legitimacy as people with agency, as humans who are more than decorative. Our DEFAULT STAT
Matt Mihm
"Asking for It" directly exposes the underpinnings of rape culture. Harding is at times colloquial and academic but never shies away from the importance of talking about and exposing the truths about sexual abuse. It can be easy to dismiss this topic and say that progress has been made, but the realities are painted vividly by Harding. When you still have politicians claiming that a woman's body can stop a pregnancy or a myriad other absurd conjectures that help justify the subjugation of women. ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
Warning: The book discusses rape, sexual assault, harassment (in a rather graphic manner) and I suspect that it can seriously trigger some people, so while I recommend it - proceed with caution.

This is a very important book, regardless whether you, as a reader, live in the United States of America, Canada, UK, or any other country. Of course, it does concern itself with cases that happened in the USA and focuses solely on e.g. statistics of English-speaking countries but a) the reader is warned
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you how they feel."

Well-researched, thoughtful, readable, true.
Sep 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An uncomfortable but important read. As someone who still hasn't found peace with their trauma, I often had to put the book down for long periods of time. Harding does an excellent job of addressing how patriarchy, politics, capitalism, media, and more contribute to rape culture and how readers can reevaluate their own behaviors and actions to respect women, take sexual violence seriously, and hold perpetrators accountable. ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I've read my fair share of non-fiction books on feminism & gender studies but Asking For It was probably the one I will recommend the most. Kate Harding started with something easy - what is rape culture? what can we do about it? - and then dealt with many different topics, from destroying rape myths to why the justice system seems to work against the victims to her own personal story of rape on campus.

This book enraged me to no end, mostly because it was written a couple of years ago &
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, nonfiction
“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.”

Published in 2015, this
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it

Equal parts angry, witty, and educating, Asking For It will force you to examine yourself, your bias, and your place in rape culture. I definitely recommend this book, but especially to readers who are just entering the conversation on feminism and/or rape culture.

Kate Harding’s book challenges you to reject the myths about rape and consent that our society/media/entertainment have instilled in us. When you think of the word rape, what do you picture? Likely, a stranger violently abducting a you
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars.

“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.”

I read Asking f
Valyssia Leigh
I get that the subject of this book is off-putting. The situation is appalling. Still, this is something that every person of conscience should look into and try to fully understand. This book is an excellent place to start. It's well researched, argued and ordered. Really, the only thing about it I find less than acceptable, if not exceptional, is it's cover. ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
But there is something very wrong when you’re telling women (and only women) to keep their hair short, only dress in ways that no one could consider “provocative,” only dress in clothing that is difficult to cut off with scissors (so, Kevlar jeans, I guess?), and never use their phones or search through their purses in public.

There’s something wrong with expecting women to remember that they should always go for the groin, or the eyes, or the armpit, or the upper thigh, or the first two fingers
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
I listened to this audiobook in a few short days. It’s taken me longer to write the full review than to listen to the book, because I want to get it right. Once you start listening, I’ll wager you can’t stop. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful. It’s depressing and inspiring. Harding clearly did her research, but she also has a stake in the story. We all do. Rape culture isn’t the world we want to leave for our daughters and granddaughters. And awareness is the first place to start. If you’re looking ...more
Ashley Reid
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most of the facts and statistics in this book are completely despicable. It makes me too sick to read it for too long.
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
ARC for review from NetGalley.

I don't want to say "easy to read" but an excellent, largely non-academic look at rape culture in the United States. Incredibly timely (the Bill Cosby scandal and the Rolling Stone/UVa. campus rape article were in the news when she was going to press), there's a lot here that readers already know, but it's presented in a clear, concise way that makes it a perfect teaching tool for both ourselves and others.

As Harding initially notes, rape culture is exists in many
Overbooked  ✎
Undoubtedly, this is an uncomfortable book to read, but I found it challenging and thought provoking. Although rape is a serious issue across genders, this book focus is on female rape, not because women are more important than any other potential victims, but they are the primary targets of the messages and myths that sustain what the author’s calls “rape culture”.

“Rape myths vary among societies and cultures. However, they consistently follow a pattern whereby, they blame the victim for their
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I just finished reading Asking For It, and all I can say is… “wow”... When I first picked this book up (or rather, saw the title on OverDrive because I’m an avid Ebook reader), I was curious and found the summary of the work interesting and very pertinent to events that have happened (and continue to occur). I had heard of the phrase “rape-culture” when I was in my early 20’s and, while I agreed that our society was definitely guilty about cultivating this type of culture, I only had a vague sen ...more
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, netgalley
This was truly brilliant and should be required reading for all humans. I learnt a lot.

Received for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Painful but important read. I really wanted to read this book for quite awhile. Rape culture, the culture of entitlement, etc. are not just buzzwords but are part of a great problem of sexual violence. Harder looks at the various aspects of rape culture in society, in the media, by law enforcement, at universities, etc. and examines what it is, how it manifests itself and the often painful consequences.
Harding looks at the various myths of rape culture and how powerfully they play in our mindse
Edgarr Alien Pooh
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"I read this book and got what I expected - this is a very important book.

The basis here is to open our eyes to the stereotypical 'rape'. Society (although learning and developing) still holds an outdated view that rape is a sexual assault by the guy hiding in the bushes, knife in hand who leaps onto the unsuspecting 19yo blonde who is enjoying a jog through the park at night.

As highlighted by the book there are two flaws with this stereotype. Firstly rapes occur during daylight hours, without w
Brianne Lochrie
Jul 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I LOVED this. Absolutely fantastic analysis and discussion about rape culture. It's very America centric but translates well to elsewhere in the Western world.
This is a book that so many people need to read and won't. Schools should use it (seriously).
I will advise though, this is a heavy book and can seem a bit demoralising at times. However, Harding does finish with a chapter called "Reasons for Hope" so it's not all doom and gloom.
Amy Gentry
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
A much-needed primer on contemporary "rape culture" that should be required reading for anyone in an advocacy role, as well as anyone on the fence about the term itself. Harding is an entertaining and accessible writer, but although her tone is chatty and even occasionally funny (in a sarcastic way), she has done her homework. The most impressive thing about this book, and what makes it essential reading even for those already on board with the basic message, is her compilation of high-profile c ...more
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Kate Harding is author of Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It. She co-authored The Book of Jezebel and Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body and founded what was for a time the internet’s most popular body acceptance blog, Shapely Prose. She has contributed to numerous online publications, including Salon, Jezebel, T ...more

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“Similarly, he forgot - or never really understood - that we live in a culture where men, as a group, have more power than women.

This isn't a controversial statement, despite the protestations of guys who funnel their frustration that not all extremely young, conventionally attractive women want to sleep with them into and argument that women, as a group, have "all the power." (Bill Maher, repping for his fan base, famously jokes that men have to do all sorts of shit to get laid, but women only have to do "their hair.")

The really great thing about this argument is how the patently nonsensical premise - that some young women's ability to manipulate certain men equals a greater degree of gendered power than say, owning the presidency for 220-odd years - obscures the most chilling part: in this mindset, "all the power" means, simply, the power to withhold consent.

Let that sink in for a minute. If one believes women are more powerful that men because we own practically all of the vaginas, then women's power to withhold consent to sex is the greatest power there is.

Which means the guy who can take away a woman's right to consent is basically a superhero. Right?”
“Rape culture manifests in a myriad ways…but its most devilish trick is to make the average, noncriminal person identify with the person accused, instead of the person reporting the crime. Rape culture encourages us to scrutinize victims’ stories for any evidence that they brought the violence onto themselves – and always to imagine ourselves in the terrifying role of Good Man, Falsely Accused, before we ‘rush to judgment’.

We're not meant to picture ourselves in the role of drunk teenager at her first college party, thinking 'Wow, he seems to think I'm pretty!' Or the woman who accepts a ride with a 'nice guy,' who's generously offered to see her safely home from the bar. Or the girl who's passed out in a room upstairs, while the party rages on below, so chaotic that her friends don't even notice she's gone.

When it comes to rape, if we're expected to put ourselves in anyone else's shoes at all, it's the accused rapist's. The questions that inevitably come along with 'What was she wearing?' and 'How much did she have to drink?' are, 'What if there was no rape at all? What if she's lying? What happens to this poor slob she's accusing? What if he goes to prison for a crime he didn't commit?”
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