In addition to the high shock value name and reference to knitting, Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan’s The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad caught my eye from it arrived from PM Press because of the blurb on the back that referred to it as “Monty Python meets the SCUM Manifesto.” It did not disappoint.
The cover is brilliant. It has a knit background with a clothing label with the authors’ names at the bottom and most of the cover taken up by a shield shaped patch with “the knitting circle rapist annihilation squad” and a a ball of yarn with two knitting needles sticking through it and daintily dripping a single drop of blood. Copies of the patch are available from derickjensen.org and stephaniemcmillan.org.
The plot is surprisingly substantial and full of endearing and plucky characters. The roast of television news anchors is priceless. Men Against Women Against Rape (MAWAR), a parody of men’s rights and Christian masculinity groups, is spot-on. I was impressed by smooth prose and the perfect lambasting of everything from the USDA and Department of the Interior to manarchists and a PETA-like animal rights organization cleverly named “PATE.”
Unfortunately, like many otherwise good, pop-culture friendly versions of rape culture feminism, this book leaves much to be desired in regard to recognizing the depth of race and class’s effects of societal structures. While I enjoyed the light-hearted, sardonic narrative about the obliteration of rape, I couldn’t help but think that even if rape disappeared, there are many people, including many, many women, who would still face some serious every day barriers to the relaxed, post-exploitation life this book hopes for. Arguably, if one’s disbelief is suspended enough to believe that killing rapists with knitting needles will actually end rape quickly and without the knitting needle wielders getting caught, then enough disbelief has been suspended enough to accept that racism and class also have been solved. There were a few spots throughout the book that indicated that in the vision of a post-rape society, or at least the people who are moving us rapidly towards a post-rape society, did not shed some fairly major hang ups regarding gender and social norms. I was also disappointed by the lack of representations of trans* people and non-hetero relationships. In spite of that, this book was hilarious and definitely a good option of funny fluff that mostly hits the nail on the head.
Perfect vision of a post-rape world this is not, but wonderful summer beach reading this is. I suspect that title alone will also do wonders for repelling people one might not want to engage with at the beach or on the subway.