Book Launch: I’m the Girl Who Was Raped by Michelle Hattingh
Modjaji Books and Love Books are pleased to invite you to the Johannesburg launch of I’m the Girl Who Was Raped, a memoir by Michelle Hattingh. Fiona Snyckers will introduce Michelle and talk with her about her book.
Emily Buchanan edited Michelle’s book and this is what she wrote about the book, published in Grocott’s Mail on the 6th May.
I’m the Girl Who Was Raped by Michelle Hattingh
Now and then you read a book that alters your life. It inspires you; it redefines you; and sometimes it reshapes your thinking in a way that changes the world around you. One such book for me was Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. Another is Michelle Hattingh’s I’m the Girl Who Was Raped.
I started working on Michelle’s manuscript as its editor. On my first reading I was surprised and excited, which seems inappropriate but it wasn’t: finally someone had the courage to write what it really was like to be raped, and to write it with such intensity, wit and pace that it read like a novel.
It was going to be a book that everyone needed to read, that would be the subject of conversation for months after it came out. More importantly, it would be a resource for those who had been raped, or feared being raped, or worried about their sons being accused of raping.
Michelle relates the story of her rape on a Muizenberg beach. She talks about how, earlier that same day, she’d presented her Psychology honours thesis on “Why Men Rape”, and how, despite her extensive research, she felt shamed and humiliated by her rape. When reporting to the police, she was further shamed and humiliated and blamed for “partying”, though she was sober.
She takes us through her next year and her battles with PTSD. She talks about being date-raped, a few years before, in a scene that is both awful and achingly funny, and draws a parallel between date-rape and stranger-rape that shows how like they are. I laughed and I cried and I re-evaluated how many of my own sexual encounters had been coercive.
Another point she makes is how the focus is always on women “staying safe”, as if that will prevent rape. When women don’t “stay safe” (I’m using the quotation marks ironically) society’s attitude is that those women bring rape upon themselves.
It’s completely illogical thinking. The statistics bear out how most women are raped in their own homes, wearing their most modest clothes and as sober as church mice. We hold onto the myth of “staying safe” because we feel it will protect us. What it does instead is takes the focus off the rapist — where it belongs — and puts the victim under its harsh, unjust, glaring spotlight.
As I talked to my friends and tried to tell them what I had learned from this book, almost all of them (feminists, lawyers, parliamentarians, doctors) directed the conversation to saying how girls really need to watch out when they go out, how it’s irresponsible not to be “careful”. It’s a message women have internalised so deeply that my friends truly couldn’t hear what I was saying. And it’s one more reason to buy them each a copy of I’m the Girl Who Was Raped: Michelle says it so much more convincingly than I can.
Women24.com published an excerpt of the book online, if you would like to read it, click here
- Date: Wednesday, 01 June 2016
- Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
- Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Road, Melville, Johannesburg
- Guest Speaker: Fiona Snyckers
- Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine and some light refreshments
- RSVP: Love Books, firstname.lastname@example.org, 011 726 7408