Becoming Unbecoming

Becoming Unbecoming


Book - 2016 | North American edition.
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This extraordinary graphic novel is a powerful denunciation of sexual violence against women. As seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl named Una, it takes place in northern England in 1977, as the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer of prostitutes, is on the loose and creating panic among the townspeople. As the police struggle in their clumsy attempts to find the killer, and the headlines in the local paper become more urgent, a once self-confident Una teaches herself to "lower her gaze" in order to deflect attention from boys.

After she is "slut-shamed" at school for having birth control pills, Una herself is the subject of violent acts for which she comes to blame herself. But as the police finally catch up with and identify the killer, Una grapples with the patterns of behaviour that led her to believe she was to blame.

Becoming Unbecoming combines various styles, press clippings, photo-based illustrations, and splashes of colour to convey young Una's sense of confusion and rage, as well as sobering statistics on sexual violence against women. The book is a no-holds-barred indictment of sexual violence against women and the shame and blame of its victims that also celebrates the empowerment of those able to gain control over their selves and their bodies.

Publisher: Vancouver, BC : Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016.
Edition: North American edition.
ISBN: 9781551526539
Branch Call Number: Una
Characteristics: 211 pages : chiefly colour illustrations ; 23 cm


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Jun 23, 2017

An unflinching look at sexual violence and its effect on a person. Una writes a letter to society on why we need to change the ways we see sexual violence and its victims. The format is a bit odd at times, but in a way it adds to the story being told.

Apr 22, 2017

Greet idea, but completely unsuccessful execution. Drawings are child like, narration is clinical, and little story telling.

May 19, 2016

I liked the illustrations but the story is so confusing to follow.

LPL_KimberlyL Feb 28, 2016

A feminist discussion of rape culture and victim blaming, this graphic novel is not an easy read but it is most certainly an important one. The author uses her own experiences as a survivor as well as the historical accounts of the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial murderer who targeted young women in the 1970s to early 80s. This one comes with a major Trigger Warning, but is worth the read if you can stomach the content.

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