Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

“they are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I was a liar until proven honest”

Asking For It is a hard look at our society and the way it treat victims of sexual violence through the story of Emma O’Donovan.

What is extremely interesting about Asking For It is Louise O’Neill’s characterisation. Emma is not a nice person, but she did not deserve what happened to her.

In framing her story in this way, I believe O’Neill purposefully sets up the reader, forcing us to question our own complicity in victim-blaming as the dynamic of the story quickly shifts from teenage drama to a reflection on the reality of rape culture. Did you judge Emma for her decisions that night or her previous behaviour? Does it matter how much she drank or what she was wearing?

Was she asking for it?

This makes for a difficult, and at times uncomfortable but above all, a necessary read.

This is an important book, a book that gives voice to so many subjects that are too often ignored. As Louise O’Neill herself writes:

“We need to talk about rape. We need to talk about consent. We need to talk about victim-blaming and slut-shaming and the double standards we place upon on young men and women.

We need to talk and talk and talk until the Emmas of this world feel supported and understood. Until they feel they are believed.”

This is a must read.


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