9 Nonfiction Books About Sexual Abuse And Rape Culture That Should Be Required Reading

If the recent outpouring of sexual-assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein have you feeling angry, anxious, or depressed, you should know that you are not alone. Whether or not you are a survivor of gender-based violence, you should consider reading some nonfiction books about sexual harassment: what it is, who has experienced it, and what you can do about it if it happens to you or someone you love.

Trigger warning: This article contains references to sexual assault and harassment, as do many of its outbound links.

In so many terrible ways, it feels as if issues we hoped to leave behind in the 1970s have reared their ugly heads once again in 2017. The 45th President of the United States jokes about sexual assault, and even brags about committing it. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has weakened Title IX in regards to campus rape cases. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a strategic plan that would pave the way toward criminalizing abortion and many forms of birth control. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun carrying out raids on undocumented immigrants and their families, and denies basic bodily autonomy to the women and girls it detains.

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Outside of Washington, D.C., it's not looking any better. People of color continue to be murdered by police officers who will never set foot in a courtroom as a defendant. Young black boys are fatally shot for carrying childhood toys, and black children are "adultified" in the eyes of the U.S. public. Right-wing media pundits and politicians spin peaceful protest against police brutality as treason.

In the last two years alone, the wider public came to know that a number of prominent men in the entertainment industry — including Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein — were accused of being serial offenders of sexual assault and harassment. Even Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Terry Crews has spoken out about being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood executive. Perhaps just as disturbing is the number of men who knew that the accused were predators, but kept their secrets, thereby allowing them to hurt more people.

So if you're fed up, but having trouble dealing with the current state of affairs, try some reading therapy. Reading a book won't fix all your problems, nor can it substitute for voting against sexist, racist politicians, or letting them know how you feel about the job they are doing in 2017, but it might make you feel better enough to start tackling the big issues.

'Speaking Truth to Power' by Anita Hill

In 1991, Anita Hill gave public testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, accusing him of sexually harassing her while they worked together in Washington. Although Thomas was ultimately confirmed as a SCOTUS Justice in spite of her testimony, Hill's courage in the face of public scrutiny remains inspiring.

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'Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture - and What We Can Do About It' by Kate Harding

Want to learn more about rape culture, its history, and how it operates today? Pick up Kate Harding's 2015 book, Asking For It, for all you need to know.

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'Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town' by John Krakauer

Investigative journalist Jon Krakauer unveils the campus-rape epidemic in Missoula, named for the Montana town where hundreds of college students reported assaults that went un-punished and un-acknowledged.

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'Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change' by Ellen Pao

Venture capitalist Ellen Pao has a lot of experience with gender discrimination. She brought suit against one of her former employers for retaliation, and was ousted from Reddit after removing revenge porn and banning several subreddits from the site. In Reset, Pao tells her story, including her experiences with the insufferable whiteness and maleness of Silicon Valley, and lays out a plan for an inclusive future.

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'Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace' by Jessica Bennett

In Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett blends personal experience with detailed research on workplace discrimination against women. Named for the working-women's group Bennett founded in New York City, this book is a must-have for both entry-level workers and old hands.

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'Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate' by Zoë Quinn

In 2014, a slanderous post from her ex-boyfriend resulted in Zoë Quinn's life, and the lives of other women in the video-game industry, turning upside-down. Plagued by death threats, doxxing, and fake reviews of her work, Quinn rose above and launched Crash Override — in connection with fellow Gamergate target Anita Sarkeesian's organization, Feminist Frequency — to help victims of online abuse.

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'The Fear That Stalks: Gender-Based Violence in Public Spaces,' edited by Sarah Pilot and Lora Prabhu

If you find yourself wondering what, exactly, "gender-based violence" is, or how something that sounds so horrible could possibly be tacitly accepted in the public space, you need to pick up a copy of The Fear That Stalks in order to understand how sexism works against women, girls, and LGBTQIA+ individuals.

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'Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley' by Emily Chang

How did Silicon Valley, a place with its sights set inarguably on advancement, wind up being a sexist hell for the women who work in its tech-centered offices? Bloomberg TV's Emily Chang investigates what made the home of Apple, Facebook, and Google so hostile toward people who aren't cishet white guys.

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'Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back' by Gretchen Carlson

Former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson left the network after filing suit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, resulting in his firing. Since leaving television, Carlson has joined forces with Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to express support for tighter laws against workplace discrimination and harassment.

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