Rape Culture #9: Rape Culture and Literature

By January 22, 2019Uncategorized


Part nine in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka 

In addition to the list from the previous rape-culture series featured on this blog, more recent books have been written about rape culture:

  • In 2018, the Governor General’s fiction award went to Sarah Henstra for The Red Word. Henstra wrote a story that looks at rape culture and the extremes to which the beliefs can go. The story is set on a college campus, when sophomore Karen learns about feminism and rape culture. One frat house in the story is nicknamed, “Gang Bang Central.” Karen is torn between the Greek culture she loves (because of a cute boy), and a feminist group. She is caught between polarized camps. Little does she know that feminist ringleader Dyann plans to use her to bring down the fraternity as a symbol of rape culture. One reviewer of The Red Word said the novel is “full of clichés of sexual politics as they exist not only on our college campuses, but also within broader present-day society. Alternately heartbreaking, funny, and critical, no one gets off easily. The Red Word plumbs the depths of literature, mythology, history, philosophy, and a host of contemporary issues—an utterly effing good read.”
  • Girl Made of Stars, a young adult fiction novel by Ashley Herring Blake, involves stories of love, rape, and family drama. This timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.
  • Vox, a dystopian novel by Christina Dalcher, is set in the United States, where half of the population are silenced. The government declares that women are allowed to speak only one hundred words per day. As the novel progresses, women are not allowed to work or learn to read or write. The novel focuses on one woman who will do anything to protect herself and her daughter. 
  • Before She Sleeps, a dystopian novel by Bina Shah, is about women’s lives in repressive Muslim countries everywhere. The story takes place in South West Asia, where gender selection has resulted in many men and few women. Women are forced to have multiple husbands and produce children as quickly as possible to prepare for war. Some women resist and live in secrecy. The novel takes patriarchal practices to an extreme through examples of gender selection, controlling women’s bodies, and distorting sex. 
  • An Excess Male, a science fiction and fantasy novel written by Maggie Shen King, is the chilling dystopian tale of politics, inequality, marriage, love, and rebellion, set in a near-future China. Years ago under the One Child Policy, everyone plotted to have a son, and now forty million of them can’t find wives.
  • The Nowhere Girls,a novel by Amy Reed, follows three girls who join together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate. Their courage ends up sparking a change in the misogynistic culture in their high school.
  • The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, by Meg Elison, is a dystopian sci-fi novel in which women are sex and reproduction slaves. The men are portrayed as evil and controlling, while the women are portrayed as running for their lives out of fear.
  • History of Violence, an international bestselling novel by Edouard Louis, is an autobiographical novel about surviving a sexual assault and coping with the post-traumatic stress disorder of its aftermath.

10: Rape Culture and Politics

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: