- Paperback: 350 pages
- Publisher: HARPER COLLINS USA (1 May 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062413511
- ISBN-13: 978-0062413512
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.2 x 20.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 263 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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NOT THAT BAD Paperback – 1 May 2018
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"This is a devastating book, heartbreaking in how familiar and relatable each story is--yet there's power and solidarity in it, too."--Shondaland
"A timely, necessary anthology."--PureWow
"It's hard to imagine a more fitting editor for a collection like this... everyone should read it."--Brooklyn Rail
"A profoundly personal anthology."--Harper's Bazaar
"Not That Bad is essential reading."--Refinery29
"The lauded social critic and provocateur curates a diverse and unvarnished collection of personal essays reckoning with the experiences and systemic dysfunction that produced #MeToo."--O: The Oprah Magazine
"From the author of Bad Feminist and Hunger (drop everything if you haven't read this) comes a collection of first-person essays about rape, assault and sexual harassment. It couldn't be more timely. Gay's introduction moved me to tears, as did many of the pieces contributed by household names--Gabrielle Union, Ally Sheedy--but accounts from "regular" women moved me even more. Perhaps that's the lesson we're meant to take away from Not that Bad: we're all "regular." Shocking as they are, many of these stories will be familiar to us all--and we all deserve better."--Elisabeth Egan, "The 17 Best Books to Read this Summer," Glamour
--Paste Magazine, "The Best Nonfiction Books of 2018"
From the Back Cover
In this valuable and timely anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay has collected original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, and bullied” for speaking out.
Highlighting the stories of well-known actors, writers, and experts, as well as new voices being published for the first time, Not That Bad covers a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation and street harassment.
Often deeply personal and always unflinchingly honest, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.
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The title was what initially grabbed my attention: Not That Bad. How many times have I and countless others said that?! Was it because it wasn’t that bad? No. It was that bad but we still live in a world that, on the whole, doesn’t want to know about sexual assault.
It doesn’t quite feel right to say I have a favourite anything where rape culture is concerned so instead I’ll say that the best definition of rape culture I’ve read to date is by Clem Ford: “A state of existence in which the impact and reality of sexual violence is minimised while the perpetrators of it are supported by a complex system built on flawed human beliefs, mythologies about gender, and good old fashioned misogyny."
Usually I’d give each contributor in a book of essays an individual star rating and comment on their writing style or whether I connected with their story or not, but I won’t be doing that here. I’m so proud of everyone that contributed to this book and while some essays impacted me more than others, I’m not comfortable critiquing anyone’s experience of rape culture.
My full review (too long to post here), including a quote from each contributor’s essay, can be found on my Goodreads profile.
I...Am...EVERY...PERSON ... IN... THIS... BOOK
I can relate in some way to all of them.
Thank you for this.
In the introduction, Roxane Gay explains that when she set out to assemble NOT THAT BAD, she intended to collect essays about rape culture, intermingling reportage with personal stories and writing that centered on the idea of “rape culture.” When she started receiving submissions, she realized that the book needed to be a place for people to give testimony, to come forth, to share just how deeply they have been marked.
The result is this book, a collection of many voices. It spans age, race, body, class and gender. Most, but not all, of the voices are women’s, both trans and cis. Most, but not all, of their perpetrators are men, presenting the undeniable truth of systemic male violence while refusing to avoid the realities of queer trauma, of cissexism. The simple volume of voices is staggering --- it’s actually exhausting to realize just how many stories there are like these. When you realize what you’ve likely always known, what you might not want to think about, what you might not be able to avoid knowing: just how many stories there are like these.
The accounts differ in experience, and in severity, but Gay emphasizes that each are “that bad.” There is a wide and important margin between rape and harassment, between language and action, but only in matter of degree --- and degree that cannot, in any real or purposeful way, be quantified. Some of these experiences have ruined a life, but all of them have altered lives. They are not the same, but they are rooted in the same issues, the same culture of rape, violence, misogyny and toxic masculinity.
This is a book for everybody. It is a book that involves everybody, that affects everybody, because no one is immune from rape culture unless you consciously recognize its pervasiveness in our culture, and in yourself, and work to disentangle yourself from its poison.
I will not call it timely. I will not call it provocative. To read this was, simply, agonizing. It was agonizing because it is the truth, because this is the raw truth of our world, at least our country. To know these experiences, to see yourself in some of them and to recognize how close you were, are, might be, could be, to so many of the others, is a terrifying, horrific thing. But it is the truth, and there is a vicious, important power in seeing it spelled out. It is not triumph. As AJ McKenna says in her piece, “Sixty-Three Days,” “And I thought This, this is the one that solves it, but it didn’t. Nothing ever does.”
This is what rape culture looks like. This is what it sounds like. This is what it feels like. This country alone bears a million of these stories, maybe even an infinity, if you keep going back. Not a matter of if but when. Not a matter of if but of degree.
Reading this book makes my face hot. It makes my head ache. It makes me angry. It wears me out. It is not a solution.
But --- it is a reckoning.
It does, in the clearest way, what survivors and victims have been asking for --- it gives them voice. This book gives voice, no qualifications. It is a validation. It believes you. It understands, all too well. It spells out what often goes unsaid, it lifts to the surface that which has been forcibly buried. It digs at scars because it uplifts the scarred and says yes, I see you, I see your hurt, and that should not have happened to you, and it did, and it changed you, and that matters, and you are not alone.
I believe you. This was not your fault. You are not alone.
By telling these stories, we see the degrees. We see the layers of behavior, from grooming to harassment to assault and rape, and we see how it manifests in masculinity, in misplaced power. Rape as an exhibition of power, as an exploitation of power, as an expectation, as a punishment, as a colonization. The more we listen to those who have endured rape culture, the more we can recognize how ingrained it is, the more we can combat it. The more we can say hey, this happened, this is happening. Hey, that’s not okay. Hey, that’s not funny. Hey, I said no. The more we can say, I believe you. This was not your fault. You are not alone.
Some may find this book cathartic, others a resource, a reassurance, but ultimately it is fiercely necessary. Space these stories out. Take breaks, take care of yourself while you read it. Keep it with you. Refer to the contributor list and buy their books too, support them. I wish with all my heart that we did not need this book, but we do, and I am grateful for it with all that same heart.
I believe you. This was not your fault. You are not alone.
Reviewed by Maya Gittelma
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