From the Library: Books to Help Us Understand Rape Culture
We've been following the sexual assault allegations against Julian Assange for the last few weeks, and we're really upset with all of outrageous victim-blaming that's been going on. We watched one high-profile feminist and another documentary filmmaker neglect to wrap their minds around the definition of consent, completely devalue the victims, and blow off the rape allegations altogether. And while we did see a breakthrough when Michael Moore went on Rachel Maddow to say that “every woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted or raped has to be, must be, taken seriously,” this world that we live in still has a long way to go when it comes to believing and taking survivors seriously.
So, I thought I would suggest a few books for those who would like to feel more well-versed when conversations regarding rape culture come up, and for those who still have no clue what rape culture is (I'm looking at you, Naomi Wolf). These are books that effectively explain how and why rape is justified and ignored in our culture while also envisioning a future where sexual assault does not exist.
Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape is a collection of essays edited by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman ( who so bravely stood up to Naomi Wolf's victim-blaming last week). This compilation clearly defines consent, explaining that consent does not equal the absence of a no, but instead must be made of an enthusiastic yes. This book takes on public and media perception of rape, public sex education, racial stereotypes, and incest. Yes Means Yes shows its readers that it is possible to heal sexually after being raped, and it argues that ending rape goes hand-in-hand with women owning their own sexuality.
Transforming a Rape Culture, an anthology that takes on rape culture, was originally published in 1993. A revised edition, edited by Emilie Buchwald, Pamela Fletcher, and Martha Roth, was released in 2005. This anthology includes 34 essays that illuminate the way that our society supports violence against women. The book opens with Andrea Dworkin's speech called "I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There is No Rape", and includes powerful essays about sexual harassment, date rape, and sexist language in pornography. You may have found some of these essays in your Women's Studies textbooks, but several of the essays were written explicitly for this text. This collection boasts contributors such as bell hooks, Gloria Steinem, Ntozake Shange, and even Naomi Wolf before her tendency to victim-blame became so apparent.
Walk Myself Home: an anthology to end violence against women, edited by Andrea Routley, is an anthology of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and interviews that share the voices of 50 Canadian women who want to shed light on the epidemic of violence against women. This book was originally intended to be a chapbook which was to be sold at a LoudSpeaker Festival, an annual festival in Victoria celebrating International Women's Day. Response to the call for submissions was so overwhelming that Routley was compelled to create a book instead. The poetry in this collection should not be missed.
In Portland? Come check these books out from our library. And be sure to let us know what books helped to shape your understanding of rape culture.
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