The Color Purple – Alice Walker

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The Color Purple is a classic. With over a million copies sold in the UK alone, it is hailed as one of the all-time ‘greats’ of literature, inspiring generations of readers.

Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

 

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The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America – Sarah Deer

beginningandendofrapeDespite what major media sources say, violence against Native women is not an epidemic. An epidemic is biological and blameless. Violence against Native women is historical and political, bounded by oppression and colonial violence. This book, like all of Sarah Deer’s work, is aimed at engaging the problem head-on—and ending it.

The Beginning and End of Rape collects and expands the powerful writings in which Deer, who played a crucial role in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, has advocated for cultural and legal reforms to protect Native women from endemic sexual violence and abuse. Deer provides a clear historical overview of rape and sex trafficking in North America, paying particular attention to the gendered legacy of colonialism in tribal nations—a truth largely overlooked or minimized by Native and non-Native observers. She faces this legacy directly, articulating strategies for Native communities and tribal nations seeking redress. In a damning critique of federal law that has accommodated rape by destroying tribal legal systems, she describes how tribal self-determination efforts of the twenty-first century can be leveraged to eradicate violence against women. Her work bridges the gap between Indian law and feminist thinking by explaining how intersectional approaches are vital to addressing the rape of Native women.

Grounded in historical, cultural, and legal realities, both Native and non-Native, these essays point to the possibility of actual and positive change in a world where Native women are systematically undervalued, left unprotected, and hurt. Deer draws on her extensive experiences in advocacy and activism to present specific, practical recommendations and plans of action for making the world safer for all.

 

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Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It – Kate Harding

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest. Congressman Todd Akin’s “legitimate” gaffe. The alleged rape crew of Steubenville, Ohio. Sexual violence has been so prominent in recent years that the feminist term “rape culture” has finally entered the mainstream. But what, exactly, is it? And how do we change it?

In Asking for It, Kate Harding answers those questions in the same blunt, bullshit-free voice that’s made her a powerhouse feminist blogger. Combining in-depth research with practical knowledge, Asking for It makes the case that twenty-first century America—where it’s estimated that out of every 100 rapes only 5 result in felony convictions—supports rapists more effectively than victims. Harding offers ideas and suggestions for addressing how we as a culture can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

 

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