Cover Image: Rough


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Member Reviews

One of the most comprehensive and inclusive books detailing women's experience of sex. All women, including trans women, disabled women, BAME women are given a voice.

Recounting personal experiences of sexual assault, trauma, and confusion, the stories we read about are stories women everywhere will relate to. Fear, violence, guilt, male entitlement, authority's inability to show empathy and the law's restrictive remit all mean too many women have stayed quiet for too long. 

Change needs to come with a completely different approach to sex education. To treatment of victims/survivors. Challenging porn as unrealistic and damaging. Giving everyone a voice. Stopping the victim blaming culture. The toxic masculinity culture. Change will be incremental but there is hope for change as more women value their bodies, and learn to speak up with a resounding no when anyone, anywhere, makes them feel unsafe/uncomfortable.
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This should be on the curriculum. Things have changed and it's scarcely talked about or reported in the media. 
This book says it all and needs to be discussed. An incredible but hugely distressing read about sex and violence, which have become two things that often go hand in hand nowadays.

Frightening, thought provooking, excellent.
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Despite being excited to read this, it is not a well structured book for me. 

It is not positive about sex, which it should be if it is relating to the nature of the title. I was disappointed, and it dragged for me due to inaccuracies and bias within it pages.
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This book was incredible. Thought provoking, sensitive and at times - deeply challenging - I really do think this book should be added to school and university curriculums as I believe it does have the potential to influence positive societal change.
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I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really wish this book had been around when I was a teenager or in my 20's. As it is, at 44, I still took away a huge amount from it. Rough is about the way sex has changed and how violence has become the norm for so many. This book explores our collective attitudes towards sex and sexual violence and how we have been conditioned to see it as normal and not speak up. As a woman who sees myself as a sex positive feminist I was shocked to see how even I am guilty of accepting the unacceptable in certain contexts. Parts of this book blew my mind.

Thompson writes in an natural, easy to understand way, there is no finger wagging or shame in this book - its just an important look at how we all need to be aware of how we are being manipulated and gaslighted by stealth to put ourselves in dangerous and damaging situations in order to fit a certain narrative.

I took a lot away after reading Rough and have had some difficult but essential conversations with my partner around sex. I'm am also gifting copies of this book to my son and daughter so they can learn from it too. Rough is essential reading for any parent and reading it could be the best gift you give your child.
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Rough is a revolutionary non-fiction work exploring the narratives of sexual violence that we don't talk about. Through powerful testimony from 50 women and non-binary people, this book shines a light on the sexual violence that takes place in our bedrooms and beyond, sometimes at the hands of people we know, trust, or even love.

This is a book that definitely should come with a TW. The book is very well written, backed up by facts and statistics and as a female, shocking to read. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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An interesting, thought-provoking read which highlights how many people have what can be described as that grey area where an encounter isn't exactly an assault, but isn't entirely consensual either.- because someone may not say 'no' but that may partly be because, for whatever reason, they don't feel they can.   

Definitely worth reading and a useful opening on an important topic that probably doesn't get anything like as much attention as it should.  I'm quite sure there are many people who engage in some 'rough' activities without it even occurring to them that their partner may not feel quite so comfortable about it or that their partner doesn't feel comfortable about saying 'no'.
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When I initially started reading Rough I was floored by how well written and well researched it was. It is full of quite striking statements and statistics and will go a long way to educating many in regards to consent, sexual assault and the many forms it can take.

However, there are quite a few flaws within the book, the main being the main trope that's being fed is white cishet females being assaulted by white cishet males. Very little time is given to other forms or types of assault outside of 'the norm'. Yes of course we live in a time where these type of assaults are hugely problematic and frequent but this does not need to minimise the huge amount of assaults that are carried out against cishet males and members within the LGBTQIA+ community. While these assaults are acknowledged, it really is just a passing mention to cover bases.

Secondly, the cishet female is almost expected to be in the role of victim immediately, casting a sense of fear towards any possible interactions. Sex isn't portrayed in a positive manner within the book in except say maybe a few pages of the book, a burdening sense that all possible sexual partners being dangerous is constant.

Finally, while the book tries to appear to portray a kink positive approach, it's clear from reading through that there are strong opinions held on what is 'normal' and what is very much 'taboo'. There are clear lines drawn at various sections of the book between people who have 'normal' sex and this apparent underground BDSM subculture.

Overall, I feel disappointed as I honestly feel this book will help a certain section of people and it did definitely open my eyes to some situations. I just wish that the author had been more inclusive and open and looked at the broader demographic which are effected.

2.5/5 ⭐ rounded to 3
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This was a bit of a disappointment. I imagine it will be helpful for certain people – cithet women who have experienced some form of sexual violence and haven’t yet come to terms with it/ become survivors. It erases men from the conversation in a way that’s very divisive and I found quite sickening. Yes, we still exist in a society where crimes of sexual violence have two perpetrators until you can prove one is the victim. Misogyny is definitely a thing. However, the lack of balance of perspective in this book is likely to add to problems, not help avoid them. Queer people are largely shuffled to the sidelines. Men are portrayed as one size fits all products of lad culture. It’s unrealistic and blinkered to the point where I don’t actually want anyone to take advice from this author.


Most frustrating of all, Rough feeds into the narrative that women are victims and – here’s the real kicker – cannot be anything else by dint of being women. This is not a narrative we should embrace. And while I endorse being able and willing to talk, set healthy boundaries and discuss what you want sexually – all of which is really important – removing any inference that sex is in fact fun and that’s why we do it, is not helpful. I agree that certain things need to change. Where the change needs to start is early on. We need to value boys and girls equally and allow them to grow in whatever direction they need to grow in without pushing too much gendered crap at them. Statistically, you are likely to still get the majority of males and females going in the directions they would always have gone in but at least it will be honestly. We need to teach girls early to value themselves, that their needs are as important, that sex is fun and that they deserve a safe, fun, pleasurable experience too. And that not wanting to have sex is also completely normal. There is no normal except ensuring informed consent, understanding boundaries and respecting them, and treating your sexual partners with respect. If we all started doing that – at home, in school, in the work place, or at leisure time – we’d all understand each other a lot better.


This was narrow, treated sex as if it was something sinister and fed a divisive narrative. And do not expect to find yourself represented if you are male, trans, gay or bi here. Do not recommend.
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A vital exploration of the grey areas between bad sex, 'a weird night', and the many ways that sexual violence has become alarmingly commonplace. Detailed and informative on the interplay between the law, reporting, social media, and public perceptions. Rough is essential reading for both men and women, I wish I had read this in my teens.
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I found the beginning of this book very difficult to get into, it was very heavy reading, full of facts and slow, I've given up on it now, I may revisit it later on.
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This is a timely and very thought provoking book with a broad canvas to cover.  The #MeToo movement has brought the issue of consensual sex and rape to the fore especially with the Harvey Weinstein case but it’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sexual violence that women experience every day.  There are 50 case studies and many quotes from academics, experts, bloggers and writers included and Rough was an informative read.  But, sometimes it feels that nothing has changed for women since the 1970’s.  
The author discusses the role of pornography as being a primary source of sex education for young people but I feel that it also normalizes some challenging behaviour and practices. There is, however, ethical porn, which seeks to redress the balance which is encouraging.  
The book contains some startling statistics such as that 631,000 men have experience sexual violence and the only 4% of reports of sexual violence are found or suspected to be false.  The author feels that there is more focus on the consequences of being accused than the aftermath and also that there is more pressure to consent to violent, dangerous and demeaning behaviours.  This includes choking and a quarter of UK adult women have felt scared during sex.    Even children as young as 9 have watched mainstream porn in the UK unbeknown to their parents which is scary when you think what they are watching.
The areas discussed include, racism, the fetishization of ethnic minorities, the disabled and people who are plus size.  There is also a chapter on trans and non binary people with the former being denied access to services such as refuges as they’re not ‘real women’.
Rough was also an introduction to upskirting which is now illegal. Although it isn’t that long enough that the photographers considered it to be an acceptable way to harass female celebrities.  Cyberflashing is also mentioned and the ease and anonymity with which it can be done.
But the book also discusses the terrible case of Grace Millane, the backpacker who was murdered in New Zealand with her killer lodging a defence that it had been rough sex that had gone wrong. I felt that some of the media judged her by her sexual tastes as if that somehow excused the terrible murder and the waste of a young life. 
There are no easy solutions but this book is a conversation starter and, although a hard read at times especially with real experiences and sobering statistics, it will provoke wider discussions over sex and sexual violence.

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC
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Wow this is a really fascinating read. This has opened my eyes to a number of things including some grey areas in my own history that I am now looking at through new eyes. Some of the facts and figures in this book regarding sexual violence on the disabled and LGTBQ community breaks my heart and I hope this book helps to open people’s eyes to what is happening.
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I thought this book would be a real eye-opener and spark a lot of debate. The topic is something that is getting more and more news time so I thought it would educate me.
However, this book was a lot more difficult to read than I had initially anticipated. It was very heavy going. Particularly at the beginning. It took me a long time to get through purely because it was so dense and heavy.
It certainly was an interesting read, and the section about the trans sexual crime and the way the police treated the poor people people involved was shocking! Something has to change!! 
Overall I learnt a lot from reading this - I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed it, but it was very detailed.
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A polemic and important work exploring sexual oppression, consent, and boundaries. Rachel Thompson gives a voice to people that are not normally heard and their experiences, which we'd rather not confront. This should be essential reading for everyone.
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CW: sexuale violence (in many forms!) sexual assault, rape

“If a woman says she feels harmed after a sexual experience, we rush to ascertain ‘was it consensual?’ If she answers ‘yes’, the tendency is to close down those conversations, as if she doesn’t have the right to feel violated… Is the bar for sex so low that all we require is for it to be consensual? Consent is mandatory, but let’s not forget, it’s also the bare minimum.”

This is an incredibly important and enlightening book. Thank you so much to NetGalley for the EARC!

Rough is primarily about the nature of consent, and the danger of assuming a yes/no binary of consent during sexual encounters. It offers a stark analysis of the ‘grey areas’ of sex (for example stealthing, non-consensual ‘rough sex’ and other intersectional-specific sexual aggressions) in order to highlight the prevalence of sexual violence occurring behind closed doors. It also raises essential questions regarding the legal and social frameworks we use in discussing these encounters.

What I found the most resonant was Thompson’s approach. Facts, statistics and examples were presented without judgement. For example, she suggested some of the problems stemming from the prevalence of pornography without demonising consumers or sex workers, with practical and reasonable solutions to these problems.

She also highlights the importance of language. For example, seeing in writing the implicit bias in language towards heterosexual sex showed really clearly the ways in which the LGBTQ+ community struggle (especially in legal terms) when dealing with instances of sexual violence. There are also a few chapters focused on the need for decolonisation in the bedroom and how racial micro and macro aggressions can have a detrimental affect on sexual experiences. In each chapter, Thompson debunks how societal systems of oppression towards misogyny, racism, fatphobia, ableism and LGBTQ+ phobias cause problems for all of the oppressed, resulting in a culture of victim blaming and/or denial. 

Overall, I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough!
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'Rough' explores tricky topics around consent and the so-called 'grey areas' of sex and sexuality, and argues powerfully about the need to address them, both through wider societal change and education, and through individual approaches around how we talk about sex and consent.

The book brings in personal stories from a variety of women, and is not easy reading, but it is crucial for understanding what a lack of consent can look like and feel like, and especially what 'grey areas' can look like. 

Thompson also investigates how consent can be affected by various power dynamics within wider society, in terms of gender, race (especially stereotypes of women's bodies and perceived 'ownership' of their bodies), and sexuality (bringing in ideas around how lesbians are sometimes seen as existing for a male gaze). This makes for fascinating reading, and I appreciated how she took more of an intersectional lens here. 

I think the middle section of the book perhaps lost some of the momentum and thread of the argument started at the beginning, but the end tied it all together again well. Although the book was very intentional in separating BDSM/rough sex and non-consensual sex, occasionally the argument got lost in trying to articulate this difference, and it meant that it was up to the conclusion to clearly re-state and build on the main thrust of the book. 

Ultimately, this is an important book about a critical subject, and I think it is insightful reading that many people should take heed of.

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is more about education than anything. It covers many sensitive subjects such as forced sex, rape, choking.  Told from different women’s perspectives. How they felt at the time and how they feel about it now.  Hard read at times but interesting. 
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to see an arc
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Every book I read and review starts off with the full five stars and I start every book with an open mind and hope that it finishes with the five stars still firmly in place. This book is no different, so lets get on with reading and reviewing it!
I've got the Kindle version and Penguin Random House are a huge, well-known publisher, so I'm hopeful this book will give me a glimpse into the lives of those living with domestic violence. I never have, fortunately, but my heart goes out to all those who have and please make sure that you're in a safe place with support available if you need it before you read any more of this review and especially the book. 

I like that the author has put a trigger warning before the first chapter starts - that's reassuring and makes me hopeful that the rest of the book will be supportive too. 

Wowsers! I've just read the introduction and first chapter and it's been incredibly intense and well written. I was wrong at the start of this review when I assumed it'd be about domestic violence... it's more than that and I feel it's filling a huge gap that has needed to be filled for too long, so I want to thank the author for taking the initiative to write it. 
I'm immensely proud of the author for including men as being the victim at only 4% of the way through! Most people seem to forget that men can be assaulted too so I'm glad that the author has brought it up so soon in the book... I'm hoping that it'll be more than just that sentence and that it'll be talked about in equal detail to female and non-binary assaults too! 
The first chapter was truly incredible and I hope it's an indication of the quality of the rest of the book. I'm gonna stop reading now, purely so that I don't emotionally overwhelm myself, but I'll be reading it again tomorrow. I was approved to read this in advance of its publication on 13th August 2021 by the publisher and right now I recommend you only read a chapter or two a day so that you don't get overwhelmed either. So far it's been a definite must-read for me though and each of those five stars it started with are still firmly in place. 

Mornin' all, I'm back for the day and I'm wondering if it's just the resolution (or whatever it's called) of my Kindle, but the first letter of the first word is considerably larger and on a line of it's own which is a touch difficult to read. The new chapter starts on the same page as the previous chapter ends too... is that how all Kindle books are or is the first star wobbly already please? 

Chapter 3 was an intense and slightly worrying read. I didn't realise that choking had become such a normal thing to do during sex and that some people don't respect their partner's dislike of it. It takes a large amount of courage to say "no" so it's awful that some people don't respect their partner enough to immediately stop as soon as the request is made... consent is everything and some people don't feel comfortable enough to assert themselves so each partner should be aware of how the other person is feeling. Is it really so hard to ask "does this feel good/OK?" or even just more generally "is this still OK with you?" and instantly respecting the choice if there's even a glimmer of doubt for either partner! 

A quick bit of advice - this isn't an instruction manual, obviously, but "rough play/sex" and BDSM are regularly talked about so please be aware of that before you get this book. It talks about them honestly and consent is totally necessary but not everyone wants to read about kinky sexual encounters - it isn't graphic with descriptions at all, but if your mind tends to wander at the mere mention of that kinda thing then please be very very careful. 
Gonna read one more chapter before my lunch - so much for last night's advice to only read a couple of chapters a day eh? lol 

Up to chapter 10 now and the previous chapter was almost entirely about race rather than helping me to understand about sexual things that I have no experience of... I started reading this book expecting it to be about domestic violence but it's been all about sex up until chapter 9 when it suddenly turned into race with barely anything about relationships... almost like the author felt they had to put in a chapter to prove how inclusive they were? 
Just finished reading chapter 10 and that was mostly about race too, so I'm getting mightily confuzzled now - is it a book about domestic violence (as the title made me wrongly assume to start with), sex (as chapters 1-8 made me think) or race (as chapters 9 and 10 are making me think)? Unless the author makes up her mind and sticks to it in chapter 11 and beyond, that first wobbly star is gonna fall off. Don't get me wrong, it's been good so far, but I'm not sure where the author is going with her book - it's changed direction three times so far after all! 

Chapter 11 is back to LGBTQ discussion which is more like what I was thinking than the previous two chapters, so the fifth star is still just about hanging on, just not as firmly as it started out and I was hoping for, unfortunately. 

Ah-ha, back to sexual relationships now, but with people who are disabled this time, so I reckon those couple of chapters about race/ethnicity were likely a part that either the author or publisher felt needed to be in the book so that everyone felt represented. I'm 56% of the way through and up to chapter 13, so I'm hoping for around 60% before I take my last pills of the day and maybe 70% by the time I head to bed... let's see what happens before setting it in stone though. 

The second half of the book is maybe more about relationships than sex judging by chapters 12 and 13 which I reckon is a bit back to front... the way I see it, the race bit should have been at the start, then the relationships and finishing with the sex so the book seems to be back to front for me, sorry. 

Just read about up-skirting etc and the lack of law surrounding it and it was a necessary addition but pretty dull compared to the rest of the book so far. It's not even 6pm yet, so 70% seems pretty do-able before I take my pills again.... maybe even 75% before I head to bed! 

Not quite 75% but I'm 72% of the way through, so I'm thinking I should be finished well before I head to bed tomorrow so that I can put this review up in the appropriate places. The fifth star is still there, it's just teetering unsteadily so I reckon that this'll be a 5 star review unless something happens in the last 28% of the book tomorrow. 
Right now I reckon the title of the book is misleading, but maybe that was deliberate? If it had been a better title then I wouldn't have been so confused at the start and the race bit, I personally reckon, is unnecessary, but that's just my own personal opinion, as is this entire review lol 

Good morning again everyone. I've done everything I need to do on a Monday morning, so I can settle in to finish reading this book until our groceries are delivered now. 

Just finished it with literally 5 minutes to spare lol 

The last few chapters were good, but not as intense and well written as the first few. Still a five star must-read by everyone, and I stand by what I said at the start about it filling a huge gap in the market, but the fifth star is wobbly instead of solid... still very much hanging on by its fingertips though!
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I found myself nodding at a lot of the scenarios the author explores in the book. She conducted research and shares the stories of 50 woman and non binary people. The book covers the sexual violence we don't speak about that happens in nearly all our lives.- "the grey area".

Although not easy reading it's informative and thought provoking and there are chapters which I may go back to read again.
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