“Hunting Girls: Sexual violence from The Hunger Games to campus rape” by Kelly Oliver

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Hunting Girls; Sexual violence from The Hunger Games to campus rape by Kelly Oliver is a book that discusses the relationship between the sexual between of campus rapes and popular culture phenomenons such as The Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight.

I picked out Hunting Girls because it was yet another book on the Our Shared Book Shelf book club page, which is Emma Watson’s book club.

Kelly Oliver brings up some pretty interesting, thought provoking points. One of the ideas I thought was the most interesting was sort of how in movies like Hunger Games and Divergent, violence is sort of normalized but women are also the aggressors and how people become used to seeing battered women, but the characters are empowered and defend themselves (even though both Katniss and Tris could plausibly have had PTSD and Katniss I definitely know showed symptoms).

However, in some of the cases I felt like the connection between “real life” and pop culture got weak. I sort of felt like Kelly Oliver was so fixated on the connection between sexual violence (e.g. rape, violence from boyfriends) that she ended up overlooking other components that were so strong in some of the examples she used. Looking at the Hunger Games, for example, Katniss was, at first, portrayed as being innocent and child like; they wanted the public to see her as a child, but in the second book, Catching Fire, they purposefully played up her sexuality because the violence she’d faced meant she was no longer innocent. She was now being sexualized by the media and you start learning about how characters like Finnick are basically used sexually by the rich and powerful and that is what would have happened to Katniss too.

All that said, I feel like that’s a very clear connection between sexual violence if the exploitation of women’s bodies was broadened because sometimes the violence isn’t explicit. However, I am totally ok with the fact that Kelly Oliver made the connections she made, especially since they were valid connections. I am simply thinking about all the other cases where, within a wider scope, there is so much more to think about. If anything, I think it weighs in her favour that I am now running with the topics she covered to now make connections of my own. I could spend all day trying to make the “gaps” be a weakness, but it got me thinking and that’s all I really ask for from a book like this.

It’s definitely worth a read.

Title Hunting Girls: Sexual violence from The Hunger Games to campus rape
Author Kelly Oliver
Genre(s) Sociology, philosophy
Publisher Columbia University Press
Publication date
May 2016
Pages 216
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