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Becoming Unbecoming

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  1,562 Ratings  ·  298 Reviews
A devastating personal account of gender violence told in comic book form, set against the backdrop of the 1970s Yorkshire Ripper man-hunt

It’s 1977 and Una is 12. Other kids are into punk or ska, but Una is learning to play "Mull of Kintyre" by Wings on the guitar, and she thinks it’s a really good song. There's another song, chanted on the terraces by Leeds United fans.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 30th 2015 by Myriad Editions
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Jan Philipzig
I have never heard of Una before in my life, but Becoming Unbecoming is easily one of the most important and thought-provoking graphic memoirs I have ever read. On the one hand, it is the unflinching personal account of the sexual/gender violence cartoonist Una had to endure while growing up in Yorkshire, England, during the 1970s and 80s. On the other, it is also the furious yet clear-headed outcry against a deeply sexist culture that produces gendered violence and allows it to flourish by blam ...more
David Schaafsma
Una's Yorkshire memoir of her own sexual violence, set against the seventies story of the Yorkshire "Ripper," Peter Sutcliffe, a serial killer who killed 13 women from 1975-1980. The police spent more than two million man-hours failing to solve the case, including interviewing the killer himself nine times before they finally figured it out. Una, an artist and academic and comics creator, worked seven years on this book in a broader societal sense to explore why it is the (male) police had so tr ...more
[Shai] The Bibliophage
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Becoming Unbecoming is one of the best informative graphic novel I came across. It provides a lot of useful facts about sexual assaults, misogyny, and victim blaming. I highly recommend this to all, particularly to women, as this will enlighten everyone on how society sometimes perceived victims to be also at fault.

It also shows on how the suspect lives or acts as if they haven’t done anything wrong that fools everyone especially the authorities. If ever you see a copy of this, don’t lose the c
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Autumn 2014 I first came across the so-called “Women against feminism” campaign on the internet. My reaction to it included confusion, outrage and outright anger! Women? Against feminism? But then I started to wonder what these women think feminism is? Is it an understanding of the word which has been so regularly tainted by (often male) ridicule? Was man-hating, hairy arm pits and Germaine Greer mentioned?
I wish I could send Una’s book to all those women who publically stated they don’t nee
Dov Zeller
In a book addressing Una's own struggle to cope with sexual predation and social exclusion, and about a large-scale cultural acceptance of, no, support of male violence against girls and women, Una opens the book with a sobering dedication: "Dedicated to all the others." Who are all these "others"? Perhaps victims of rape and assault (the numbers are staggering), or a little more broadly, victims of a toxic patriarchal culture that breeds toxic and predatory masculinities. Maybe girls and women ...more
Joanne Harris
Stunning graphic novel, addressing some very tough issues with clarity and compassion. Haunting, articulate, brave and intelligent. All girls should read this. All women will understand it.
Milly Cohen
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOWWWWWWWW!!!!!!! Qué manera de compartir lo suyo y hacernos partícipes de lo que sucede en el mundo, qué forma tan visual y tan inteligente y tan audaz y tan creativa de dar testimonio de su dolor (y el de tantas) sin tener que exagerar morbosamente, mucho menos sin caer en dramatismo, más bien creo que nos hace de alguna manera responsables y alertas. Muy recomendable, muy.
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An utterly incredible graphic memoir about societies attitudes to women and the victim blaming culture that prevails and ceases to disappear.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
INCREDIBLE. Possibly the best graphic novel I've ever read. I interviewed Una for The F-Word - check it:
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La autora narra los asesinatos que ocurrieron durante la década de los 70 en la ciudad de Yorkshire a la vez que nos habla de su experiencia personal y de qué manera le afectó todo. Me ha parecido una novela gráfica imprescindible, muy adecuada para dar visibilidad a la violencia de género y denunciar el silencio que provoca, generado por la culpabilidad y la vergüenza. Tiene muchas frases para reflexionar, momentos que son bofetadas de realidad. Muy recomendable.

“¿Por qué la idea de que las muj
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graficos, memorias
Duro, crudo, emotivo, directo, real. Es la historia en una mujer en específico, Uma, pero bien podría ser la de millones.

Una creció inmersa en un contexto de violencia sexual, experimentada no sólo directamente, pero también por medio de su ambiente. Son los finales de los 70s y la policía de West Yorkshire trata en vano de detener a un asesino serial de mujeres, “The Ripper”. Le invierten tiempo a la operación, demasiadas horas, pero la investigación es constantemente saboteada por sus propios
Elizabeth A
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'd never heard of this author or graphic memoir, and am so grateful to my Goodreads friends whose reviews of it put in on my radar. This might well be the most thought provoking and important graphic memoir I've ever read. The author uses words and art to tell the heartbreaking account of the violence she experienced growing up, and then juxtaposes her personal story against a national serial killer story playing out in the media at that time. She explores how societal and cultural attitudes to ...more
Denver Public Library
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, hana
Starting as a benign coming of age graphic memoir, Una’s tale grows extremely dark as the stage is set for an exploration of gender violence and abuse in late 1970’s Yorkshire. With thin, wispy illustrations, Una blends her story of growing up while being surrounded by the devastating murders perpetrated by the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer that terrorized women in the English towns of Leeds and Bradford. The Yorkshire Ripper targeted prostitutes and once caught, claimed his actions were mot ...more
Stewart Tame
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow. This was not at all what I was expecting. It resists easy summary, but I suppose I'll give it a go. There's some autobiography here. Una grows up during the 70's. She is raped and/or molested on several occasions, but doesn't talk about it, partly because she has no frame of reference for what happened the first time. Rumors spread. She becomes ostracized at school, develops depression, tries various therapies, etc. This is set against the background of the Yorkshire Ripper murders. Details ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an important story and message. Sickening, harrowing and raw, yet beautifully executed.
I was really impressed by Una's tone throughout this graphic novel. She discusses her own pain and vulnerability with such frankness, nearly to the point of (understandable) detachment; yet it never feels impersonal. It worked well to use the terror of the Yorkshire Ripper as a way to examine both the larger issue of misogynist violence and Una's own experiences with sexual assault.

It is quite horrifying that Una's recollection of the cultural climate of four decades ago is still so relevant. Ma
Mariano Hortal
La enigmática autora de esta novela gráfica juega con elementos autobiográficos para mostrarnos una historia que está enraizada en la violencia: la que recibió ella misma cuando tenía doce años y la que se manifiesta a través del relato de los asesinatos del apodado Destripador de Yorkshire. Ambas narraciones se fundirán en un relato que le sirve para explorar la violencia de género y su relación con una sociedad que no cuestiona la violencia machista, visibiliza ni más ni menos que la estructur ...more
Alessandra JJ
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A edição brasileira não está cadastrado no goodreads, mas fica a indicação para um quadrinho que é um soco no estômago. Uma fala sobre violência sexual, cultura do estupro, culpabilização da vítima e violência contra a mulher. Um quadrinho que todo mundo deveria ler.

> Se a solução fosse prender todas as mulheres em uma caixa forte, a chave ainda ficaria com um homem.
Sujin Stone
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a beautifully drawn graphic memoir on a very dark and painful personal experiences. I hope people don't take away the seriousness of the subject just because it's written in the comic way.
I'm glad I found this book and read it!
This was a really great book that I feel like I should have paid more attention to. I may re-read it at another time because I wasn't able to focus enough attention to it as it is. I really liked that Una didn't spend any time describing her assaults in detail - sometimes you don't want to retell stories that are painful, sometimes your memories are hazy and you can't recall how things happened. Details aren't important in this story. Overall a good story about structural and societal sexism and ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una novela gráfica que nos habla sobre violencia de género, abusos sexuales, misoginia, responsabilidad social, feminismo... Muy necesaria.
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is amazing. This is several things in perfect balance. It is a story about sexual violence. It is a story of the Yorkshire Ripper. It is an indictment of the way gendered violence marginalizes its victims, making them susceptible to further abuse or exploitation. It is an experimental comic that uses a variety of drawing styles, many of them primitive, to tell a harrowing pair of stories that you hope are cathartic. It is an evocation of depression and PTSD and shame and misogyny and terror ...more
Olga Fry
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A gripping look at gender violence, "Becoming Unbecoming" is the story of 12-year-old Una, a girl who loves playing guitar and finds herself on the receiving end of violence several times over, and feels that she is to blame. Una tells her story via art, short blocks of text, newspaper articles, and statistics about violence toward women. She is an ordinary-looking girl with bangs, I imagine her to be short. My heart breaks for her when she talks about wearing jeans during one sexual attack, how ...more
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobio, comix, crime, feminism
A deeply affecting and beautifully drawn graphic memoir on a very painful subject. Una interweaves her difficult coming-of-age experiences in 1970s Yorkshire with the case of the Yorkshire Ripper, who brutally murdered 13 women between 1975 and 1980. With great sensitivity, she explores how our misogynist society silences the voices of women who have been sexually assaulted. There is nothing sensationalist about her approach -- in fact, this book includes one of the most moving tributes I have e ...more
John  Edgar Mihelic
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Picked this up off the shelf, sight unseen.

It was a smart pick.

The story is about a young woman, growing up.

The background is the hunt for the so-called “Yorkshire” Ripper, a serial killer who was tracking down women and killing them.

The killer took too long to get caught because the people looking for him were incompetent. They were incompetent in that they were men who made unfair assumptions about women.

All the men do. Though there is the backdrop of the useless police, the story can be seen
Introspective, wide-reaching, intensely personal coverage of the sexual victimization of women. She reflects on news coverage of serial sexual predators during the time she grew up. She also depicts her own experiences in this area. And how she felt and feels and processes these experiences.

Her illustrations are highly symbolic, reminding me of the work of Laura Lee Gulledge, and occasionally resembling infographics. It's mostly black and white, with just a few pages incorporating a bright colo
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
It started so promisingly. Absolutely gripping. And I can see what you were trying to do - and I applaud it. But at the half way point, to me the book lost it's power and you lost me with all the facts, figures and the density of the psychology behind the gender imbalance and perceptions of good and bad girls. I know this was part of your story and I am not sure how it could have been done differently. The imagery was on point and absorbing.
I think it important that the story be told and shared
Rebecca McNutt
I love books set in the 1970's and this graphic novel is definitely no exception. A powerful, shocking and moving account of a girl who experiences gender violence first hand, Becoming Unbecoming is a book that everyone should read.
Hannah Garden
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Good god this book is incredible. Beautiful and devastating.
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Raw, powerful, necessary.

(Trigger warning for violence against women, including rape.)

Canon Gordon Croney, vicar of Leeds, considers police-controlled houses of prostitution to be impractical. "I know it's an easy answer, but I believe it could make the problem worse," he said.

"If prostitutes came under police protection, then it could make a psychopath like the Ripper prey on innocent women."


So many popular cultural monuments to Sutcliffe have been built by men. Perhaps it's easier to see i
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“But you know, there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark... That doesn't also exist in the light.” 2 likes
“Blaming the victim is an act of refuge and self-deception. It allows the blamer to sit in judgment, imagining some mystical justice that means bad things happen only to bad people, thus ensuring their own safety.” 1 likes
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