I will judge a book by its cover and I will not be made ashamed thank you very much. As much as we all love a good rant, here I will talk about book covers that I think are particularly good and why they’re good. As with almost everything on this blog there will be a good deal of spoilers in these posts as good covers will always tell us something about the book they’re advertising. In the end, covers are advertising and if you don’t have a good cover it’ll be harder, but not impossible, to sell people on your book. Alright let’s get to it.
This week we’re talking about the cover for Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. Content warning, we will be talking about r*pe and the culture surrounding it so if this is triggering I hope to see you next week!
I have a full review of this book here if you haven’t read it, but this book is essentially about a teenage girl who goes to a party and she becomes intoxicated and passes out. In the morning, she’s left on her doorstep and it’s discovered that she’s been raped.
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Even though this book is such a hard read because of the subject matter, I really enjoyed it for the discussion of rape culture it explored. There are two aspects of this book cover I want to cover. The first being the choice of model and the second being the position of the model.
The fact that a Barbie doll was used for the cover communicates a lot of different things, mostly comments on society. How rape culture thrives on society expecting people to behave a certain way. Or more specifically, they want rape victims to be like dolls. Something pretty to look at, but nothing that causes problems. Nothing that challenges views, speaks their own minds, or speaks out of turn. Society wants all rape victims to bend to its will. It wants them to act how it wants them to act, say what it wants them to say. Having doll on the cover communicates the complete control society wants to have over victims, how it wants to arrange them just so, so “everything can go back to normal” because that is what happens when Emma decides not to press charges. Her dad, who was threatening to leave, stays; her mother resumes her routine; and her friends all stop harassing her. Because it’s easier for society for the privileged to maintain control if victims stay silent. Putting a doll on the cover instead of a human communicates all of this and more because it implies the doll doesn’t have a choice. Society doesn’t want to give rape victims a choice. It just wants them to stay silent.
The second part that is interesting to me is the position the doll is in and the fact that the doll is naked. Many societies attribute a raised knee to something akin to promiscuity. That they’re welcoming whatever advances are happening to the person. It’s flirtatious and compliments the title well. Is a raised knee asking for attention? And by extension is being naked asking for attention? Does what you wear and what you say and what you do mean the person you are interacting with is absolved of accountability? Most people when asked in that context would say “no.” But still the number of people who ask: “What were you wearing?”; “Where were you?”; “Should you have been there?”; “Where you drinking?”; “Were you flirting with the person?” obviously still warrants the discussion.
Well that’s about it! What do you think? Have you read this book and what do you think of my analysis? Let me know in the comments below!