Soapbox Saturday – Review: “Rape is Rape” by Jody Raphael

Hey guys. For today’s “Soapbox Saturday”, I’m including a review of a book that delves into a very tough subject matter in today’s considerations, with the rise of rape/sexual assault in our society. I read Jody Raphael’s “Rape is Rape” last year and was stunned not only by the social attitudes taken towards women who are raped and subsequently report it, but also the lack of response and how to properly deal with it in the aftermath. I think this is a must read for everyone, particularly to start larger discussions on how to deal with rape/sexual assault and call attention to how horrific and prevalent it is in our society. I hope that you take the time to peruse this very enlightening book.

Until next entry,

Rape is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape CrisisRape is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis by Jody Raphael

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initial reaction: Jody Raphael certainly opened my eyes to much on its respective subject in “Rape is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis”. Between the personal narratives this book gives from victim accounts to the multiple citations of media figures, high profile rape cases, and analysis of many examples of victim blaming, I think it not only handles its subject matter with multidimensional arguments and sensitivity, but also prompts the need for social change with respect to the distortions that are rampant within our society. I strongly believe this is a must-read.

Full review:

The most fitting question I have at the beginning of this review, meditating directly on the subject matter presented in this book, is “How can we allow this to happen?” Because it says quite a bit in the negative about our society when we remain negligent, silent, or accusatory in the face of someone – anyone – who’s been raped. Regardless of background, regardless of gender, regardless of orientation or any measure one could term. It’s unacceptable that victims can’t speak up for fear of not being believed or the event not being severe enough to report, or that they will be repeatedly punished even in light for the horrors they’ve faced.

Initially, I picked this book up on a recommendation of a Goodreads friend who thought I would be interested in the topic (which I was like – “Heck yeah, I need to read this.”) I also noted it for the link it had to a certain senator’s commentary a while back in the media about what “real” rape constituted and President Obama’s response to it in the simply put statement “Rape is Rape”. When I first heard the commentary from that senator, I was like “Are you even serious right now?” It’s just mind-boggling that so many people can underscore the trauma and horror than many rape victims go through and not make a move to act regardless of what particular role they may function in the level of aiding victims.

Even as I’m writing this respective review, I’m having a difficult time putting into words how to approach this subject. I took a long time to meditate on it (understatement since it’s been some months), but the dialogue in Raphael combines both narratives from rape victims and the impact it has had on their respective lives alongside their attempts to report and get help for it.

Every single story in this had me feeling gutted and filled with outrage (which very much this narrative is intended to do) on the level of mismanagement, victim blaming, and/or indifference that were communicated with each respective woman’s case. There was a case study of a young woman with cystic fibrosis who was raped and never recovered from the impact of the assault, as the stress took a major toll over her health. And each story was supplemented in Raphael’s narrative with misconceptions over the definition of rape, how it was underscored in counterarguments against feminist dialogues by both men AND women, how the larger contexts of “rape culture” contribute to the problem and many other details that I found completely…inexplicable. The whole notation of some explaining rape as somehow equivalent to “bad sex” made me bristle more than a few times. And the extent to blaming victims for somehow lying about the experience and the fabricated statistics with respect to that…just…mind blown. There was also an interesting eye to how self-blame and denial dialogues played a part in survivor mentality, touched upon well in some contexts, but I think it could’ve delved even further in the dialogue.

I do think the narrative could’ve gone some steps further to examine several other occurrences of rape, including multi-gendered (male rape included), multiracial, victims that were raped more than once, and rape as portrayed in media. Yet for what the narrative offered, I thin it’s a step in starting the larger dialogue and this is one that I would recommend all reading to understand just how prevalent and rooted rape – its frequency, attitudes, and other dimensions – are a problem in our society that we must address.

Overall score: 4/5

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Chicago Review Press.

View all my reviews


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