Please be advised that this episode features discussions of sexual assault, rape culture, victim blaming, and uses language that some may find triggering.
Now is the time for difficult conversations. We need to listen to voices that have long been silenced and challenge those who promote fear among vulnerable populations. This is particularly true in cases of sexual assault. Serious and devastating consequences arise when victims are encouraged “not to make a fuss” and to sweep their stories under the carpet like shameful secrets.
Louise O’Neill’s Asking for It (2015) confronts the pervasiveness of victim blaming and rape culture in Ireland through an account of a young woman’s sexual assault, the repercussions of the crime upon her family and community, and her struggle with recovery. Our twenty-ninth reader selected this novel for its ability to open up crucial conversations in her country of origin and how it challenges the reader’s assumptions about consent.
We discuss the novel’s content and style, the significant role of social media in the crime, the author’s failings and successes, and the text’s impact on Irish society.
“You’re not going to have a pleasant read. It’s not about that. I think that it’s more about informing yourself. And if you find that this is an issue that you have heard a lot about, but you feel it’s very hard to access or you’re afraid of asking the wrong questions, this is the best way to start yourself off… Don’t be afraid to educate yourself…And I think if nothing else, it also helps you understand that even if you haven’t perpetrated something against someone else, not speaking up is also aiding the crime. Speaking up when you see wrong, questioning things if you’re not too sure about them, taking someone under your wing, believing victims, it all feeds into the same culture, and that’s very important to educate yourself on.”
*Note: Whoops! In this episode’s introduction I cite the publication year as 2014 instead of 2015. Apologies!*
The Skull Beneath the Skin – P.D. James