Asking for It Summary By Kate Harding

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

Asking for It (2015) is about more than just rape itself.

It also takes a deep dive into how rape culture affects us as individuals and communities.

Through this book, the author examines not only the various manifestations of rape culture but also its devastating effects on victims, as well as what we can do to put a stop to it.

All in all, Asking for It is an eye-opening and thought-provoking exploration into the intricate intersections between gender, sexuality and power dynamics which make up our society today.

You'll discover the ways in which we can work together to dismantle this damaging culture while advocating for change along the way.

Asking for It

Book Name: Asking for It (The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do about It)

Author(s): Kate Harding

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Time: 15 Minutes

Categories: Society & Culture

Author Bio

Kate Harding is a highly respected author and social commentator who is well-known for her work on subjects related to violence against women and the damaging societal attitudes towards feminine body types.

She has published works in The Book of Jezebel and DAME Magazine, as well as co-authored Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere.

Her latest book, Asking for It, delves into these issues in even greater depth, exploring them through personal stories and expert analysis.

And by incorporating hard facts alongside lived experience, it provides an illuminating look into important but often overlooked topics.

How Our Culture Perpetuates Rape and Its Victims Are Not Vindicated

Culture Perpetuates Rape

It’s horrifying to think that only 7 percent of reported rape cases end in an actual trial.

This is a heartbreaking statistic, and it reflects a culture where unattended acts of sexual violence have become all too common.

By looking deeper into what these numbers mean, we can learn more about the horrifying treatment of rape in our culture.

For example, it’s not just women who are victims of gang rape—men and children can also be victimized by multi-perpetrator assaults.

Similarly, many perpetrators try to cast themselves as the real victims in order to escape conviction, while many cases never even make it to court because they simply aren’t taken seriously enough.

These are difficult truths to talk about, but they must be discussed if we hope to address this issue and make progress on ending sexual violence.

The Toll of Rape Culture: Blaming Victims and Normalizing Abuse

It’s a sad truth that in too many cases, victims of rape are often blamed for the crimes committed against them instead of being treated as the victims they are.

This is clearly illustrated in the case of an eleven-year-old girl from Cleveland, Texas who was gang raped by several men and then saw her attackers escape justice when the defense attorney argued she had seduced them.

Even more tragically, this kind of reasoning isn’t just limited to defense attorneys; it’s pervasive in our society at large.

In James McKinley’s New York Times article covering this particular story, he noted how members of the community were more concerned with how this incident would affect the lives of the rapists than they were about justice for the young victim.

People were incredulous that these men could be seduced into such behavior – even though there is nothing seductive about rape.

These attitudes stem from a culture where rape is normalized and women are blamed for inviting this kind of attack on themselves due to what they wear or how they conduct themselves.

We must fight against such oppressive language and understand that no one ever asks to be raped or deserves to be treated in such a vile manner.

Ensuring Safety: The Responsibility of Preventing Rape Should Not Fall on the Victims

Preventing Rape

Women shouldn’t have to give up their freedom in order not to be raped.

How many times has this happened? Too many!

It’s a sad reality that even when women take precautions, the threat of rape still exists.

When there were several reported cases of rape in Minneapolis in 2012, police told women to restrict their movements and remain on guard.

They said things like- “Don’t go out alone at night,” “Stay close to others”, and “Seek safety if you see anyone suspicious.”

These might sound like good measures, but they’re ultimately empty words if somebody is determined enough to commit the crime.

Sure, being cautious is important but it won’t magically protect anyone from a perpetrator.

What’s worse is that all this often serves as an excuse for people to blame the victims for something that isn’t their fault; it’s simply another way of placing the responsibility for rape prevention onto them.

Take the example of Jane Doe- she was conscious enough to call her friend when she felt uneasy about someone suspicious following her late one night.

She thought by getting off the bus near her home and walking that last bit she would reach safety, only for her rapist to reappear again and attack her on the street near her house.

Even though she was as cautious as possible, people still had negative comments to spew in response- saying that if she felt scared she should have sought help sooner or should have stayed on the bus instead of getting off.

That’s wrong!

A person is never responsible for their own rape because they didn’t do everything they could or they made one bad decision; no one ever asks to be attacked in such a manner and nobody deserves it either no matter what happened beforehand.

How Rape Culture Strengthens and Empowers Groups of Men

Gang rape is a product of rape culture, which perpetuates the celebration of male virility and power while degrading femininity.

Peggy Reeves Sanday, an anthropologist, concluded that gang rape serves as a ritual for men to solidify their status and identity as distinct from women.

It was observed in the 1989 gang rape of a disabled girl when Bernard Lefkowitz pointed out that it enabled the men to distance themselves emotionally from women and project their self-worth onto someone “beneath” them.

Victims of gang rape also include individuals perceived by the perpetrators as outsiders or “too feminine,” such as what happened in 2012 when three boys tied up and raped their 13-year-old classmate with a pencil on a bus ride to a wrestling tournament.

Unfortunately, the community response illustrated how deeply intertwined our society is with rape culture; there was support for the rapists rather than sympathy for the victim and his family who were forced to move away as a result of the ordeal.

The Need for Police to Take Rape Allegations Seriously


Police officers can contribute to rape culture when they dismiss victims, or worse, side with the perpetrators.

This was certainly the case when college students reported an alleged attack by star football player Ben Roethlisberger in 2010.

Despite witnesses and evidence that something had happened in a VIP room at the club, Sergeant Jerry Blash made it clear he wasn’t taking the victim’s story seriously.

He said her memory wasn’t reliable because she was too drunk and even exhorted her not to make up a story about Roethlisberger.

The officer even went so far as to apologize for having to investigate the incident, implying that he thought there was no need for a report.

He followed this up by calling her a “crazy bitch” for bringing it up in the first place.

The message here is very clear – police officers were ready to believe Roethlisberger over the victim and many cases like this are likely unreported because of fear of how authorities will react.

This kind of behavior from law enforcement makes it incredibly difficult on victims of rape and is another example of how rape culture is perpetuated and not taken seriously in society.

The Difficult Burden of Proving Rape: Why Survivors Are Scapegoated and so Few Ever See Justice

When it comes to rape cases, prosecutors tend to be hesitant in bringing them to court.

This is because they rarely have rock solid evidence that can stand up in court and convince a jury.

According to the most recent National Crime Victimization Survey, only 12 percent of perpetrators are arrested after the crime has been committed, which doesn’t give prosecutors much to work with.

Even when cases do make it to a prosecutor’s desk, two-thirds of them are dismissed, though this goes against the victims’ wishes 80 percent of the time.

This low success rate makes prosecuting rape cases seem like too much trouble for a prosecutor to handle, so many ultimately choose not to go through with a trial unless there is indisputable evidence of guilt.

The White House Council report and other studies suggest this happens due to the heavy burden of proof in the American criminal justice system as well as cultural biases against “slutty” women.

This means that if prosecutors don’t feel confident their evidence will be enough for a successful conviction — which is often the case — then they opt out of pursuing the case further and helping bring justice upon the perpetrator.

The Biological Myth That Women Can’t Get Pregnant From Rape

Some elements of the anti-abortion movement deny that pregnancies resulting from rape can exist.

They claim that if a woman gets pregnant, she must have wanted it and her body would have “shielded” her from it if she didn’t.

This bizarre way of legitimizing “real” rape stems from an essay written by former obstetrician John Wilke in 1999, in which he argued that emotional trauma caused by said rape would prevent pregnancy from occurring.

The American College of Gynecologists has disputed this logic, stating that for every 1,000 rape cases there are approximately fifty associated pregnancies.

It remains true that humans lack the evolutionary “body shielding” mechanisms seen in some other species, such as female ducks who possess corkscrew vaginas and false pathways to divert unwanted sperm.

When opponents express the opinion that certain rapes cannot result in pregnancy, they’re expressing a twisted sense of reasoning.

Pregnancy should never be used to determine or discredit what is or isn’t considered “real” rape – it is simply another factor alongside consent to consider when determining whether a woman has been subjected to sexual assault .

The Media Normalizes Sexual Violence and Perpetuates the Idea That Women Want to Be Raped

Sexual Violence

The media and entertainment industry both play a huge role in perpetuating rape culture.

Take the example of the 2008 episode from ‘Mad Men’, for instance, where a female character was raped but many viewers didn’t even realize that it was rape.

Or even Tyler Perry’s 2013 film ‘Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counsellor’ which showed Judith resisting her client’s advances before he overpowered her – only for them to then start dating.

This is problematic as it implies that women actually want to be raped and can somehow find enjoyment in it.

Even worse, this kind of suggestive material is being fed to us on a daily basis through various forms of media such as movies, television shows, and porn clips.

It is important to acknowledge this kind of material and educate ourselves on the reality of rape culture, so we can learn to be better allies and help shape our society into one that truly values consent.

Lawmakers and progressive media outlets are encouraging a better, healthier understanding of consensual sex.

A law was passed in California that grants financial aid to colleges that adopt the “yes means yes” standard for sex.

This entails both partners saying yes rather than relying on a traditional “no means no” stance.

It also ensures that consent has to be given throughout, and can also be revoked at anytime.

The progressive sectors of media have also embraced this change by producing content that promotes and exemplifies this new attitude towards sex.

The popular romantic comedy show, The Mindy Project, even had an episode dedicated to this cause; when one partner withdraws consent they talk it out like mature adults, recognising the importance of consensual sex in a way which probably wouldn’t have been shown 5 years ago.

This is an incredibly important step forward in terms of demonstrating how relationships should should look when it comes to matters of sex and consent.

Wrap Up

The overall message from Asking for It is that rape is not solely the fault of individual, terrible men but is enabled by and perpetuated through a culture that normalizes it.

If we want to end rape, we need to change the way we talk about it and resist the notion that victims are complicit in their own attack or can be made excuses for perpetrators.

Therefore, this book offers advice on how to better understand sexual assault cases and how to think more critically about them – pay attention to victims’ accounts, be aware of victim-blaming language, consider both sides’ perspectives, etc.

With this advice in mind, hopefully readers can contribute towards dismantling rape culture and creating a world free of sexual violence.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

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