To me, Louise O’Neill is the face of feminism in UKYA. I have seen her speaking at panels many times. I follow her on social media. I love her. But I had not yet read her books.
Asking For It is Louise’s second book and it tells Emma’s story. And what an important and infuriating story it is.
Emma is eighteen and beautiful and she knows it. She is confident, she likes that she attracts male attention, she likes being the most beautiful girl she knows, and she likes people telling her that. If she’s not sounding like a very likeable person to you, you are right, she’s not. She’s not even a terribly good person. But the thing is, one night Emma goes to a party and is gang raped by a group of boys in the local football team. And even though she is the person we do not particularly like, she did not deserve it. She was not asking for it. And that is the point Louise is making.
It made me so angry to be reading this. To be reading people’s reactions to what happened to Emma. People doubting her, people saying that ‘really, what did she expect dressing and acting the way she does while looking the way she looks’. And you know that this isn’t just Emma’s story; this happens to so many women all over the world and some people, unfortunately even most people, still don’t see them as the victims.
It is so easy for people to dismiss rape culture. To say there is no such thing. That we are just exaggerating. I wouldn’t say that this was an enjoyable book to read simply because it’s so horrible, saying that I ‘enjoyed it’ doesn’t feel right. But it is good and well written and it starts a very important conversation that we all need to have.
My rating – 9/10