REVIEW: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, Roxane Gay

Friday, 16 November 2018

In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects 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, bullied” for speaking out. Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, and Bob Shacochis. Covering 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, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest. Like Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, Not That Bad will resonate with every reader, saying “something in totality that we cannot say alone.” Searing and heartbreakingly candid, 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.

“Anger is the privilege of the truly broken, and yet, I've never met a woman who was broken enough that she allowed herself to be angry.”
I don’t think I will ever read another essay collection as important as this one. It is difficult to read (by god yes, of that there is no doubt) but it is powerful, honest, needed. When our descendants look back at this period of history, Not That Bad will be sure to be the defining portrayal of the gender experience of our age.
It is a crescendo of voices; all strong, all haunting, all refusing to give up and desperate to keep on fighting. In them, you will find similarities to your own experiences and those of the people you love, but also ones that are probably very different.
They’re voices that I know will stay with me. They will sit on my shoulder and tell me to keep on moving. That it is alright to be angry; to be broken.
How many times have you said those three words? How many times will you say them after reading this?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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