New York Times Bestseller
Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on.
Vogue, “10 of the Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018” * Harper’s Bazaar, “10 New Books to Add to Your Reading List in 2018” * Elle, “21 Books We’re Most Excited to Read in 2018” * Boston Globe, “25 books we can’t wait to read in 2018” * Huffington Post, “60 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Hello Giggles, “19 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Buzzfeed, “33 Most Exciting New Books of 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.
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About the Author
Roxane Gay is the author of the essay collection Bad Feminist, which was a New York Times bestseller; the novel An Untamed State, a finalist for the Dayton Peace Prize; and the short story collections Difficult Women and Ayiti. A contributing opinion writer to the New York Times, she has also written for Time, McSweeney’s, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Bookforum, and Salon. Her fiction has also been selected for The Best American Short Stories 2012, The Best American Mystery Stories 2014, and other anthologies. She is the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She lives in Lafayette, Indiana, and sometimes Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
Introduction Roxane Gay ix
Fragments Aubrey Hirsch 1
Slaughterhouse Island Jill Christman 15
& the Truth Is, I Have No Story Claire Schwartz 33
The Luckiest MILF in Brooklyn Lynn Melnick 49
Spectator: My Family, My Rapist, and Mourning Online Brandon Taylor 59
The Sun Emma Smith-Stevens 69
Sixty-Three Days AJ McKenna 79
Only the Lonely Lisa Mecham 89
What I Told Myself Vanessa Máartir 99
Stasis Ally Sheedy 105
The Ways We Are Taught to Be a Girl xTx 115
Floccinaucinihilipilification So Mayer 129
The Life Ruiner Nora Salem 143
All the Angry Women Lyz Lenz 155
Good Girls Amy Jo Burns 167
Utmost Resistance: Law and the Queer Woman or How I Sat in a Classroom and Listened to My Male Classmates Debate How to Define Force and Consent Y. L. Seek 177
Bodies Against Borders Michelle Chen 189
Wiping the Stain Clean Gabrielle Union 203
What We Didn't Say Liz Rosema 207
I Said Yes Anthony Frame 213
Knowing Better Samhita Mukhopadhyay 229
Not That Loud: Quiet Encounters with Rape Culture Miriam Zoila Pérez 235
Why I Stopped Zoë Medeiros 243
Picture Perfect Sharisse Tracey 253
To Get Out from Under It Stacey May Fowles 273
Reaping What Rape Culture Sows: Live from the Killing Fields of Growing Up Female in America Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes 289
Invisible Light Waves Meredith Talusan 301
Getting Home Nicole Boyce 307
Why I Didn't Say No Elissa Bassist 323
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
it’s interesting how the bad reviews are just backing up the message about rape culture. This book was incredible, eye-opening, and deeply heartbreaking yet some trolls gave it 1 star because this book is putting a spotlight on these monsters in our society that we’re letting go free because a woman was drunk or had a low-cut too. We as a society need to change and we have to start by talking about it and saying that this is no longer acceptable.
Loved this book! As it is a book of essays by multiple authors it gave a wide range of perspectives on the issue of sexual violence and rape culture. It was informative, heart breaking at times, and empowering.
Not That Bad is an impossible book to rate; each of the stories in this anthology are personal and painful experiences that are important and raw for the writer. Each one is in a completely different style, or about a different part of an experience – some focus on the act itself, some on the aftermath, some on the backstory of how it happened. There are poem-like stories, angry essays, retellings of events, graphic comic style drawings and even a few ‘statistic’ like chapters. The variety and backgrounds of the writers are wide – a mix of ages, experiences, backgrounds, races and orientations which show the scope and scale of the problem in our society today. Not That Bad is approximately 350 pages – a length of book which would normally take me around a day to read, but instead this book has been on my ‘currently reading’ for months. It isn’t a book you can simply devour in one sitting – I read a few stories at a time in between other books and only when in the right frame of mind for it. Not That Bad is an immensely powerful book and one that should be read by everyone, especially those who find themselves victim-blaming others. It is poignant, hard-hitting and painful to read. Thank you to NetGalley and Atlantic Books – Allen & Unwin for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is a powerful, yet raw, collection of individual experiences of rape culture. It show how easily lives can be ruined at the hands of others - those who don't even realise they have done anything wrong. Sadly, I don’t believe this book will change the world but I do hope it encourages more people to talk about this painful subject which will, in time, bring about a much-needed change to todays world. I hope the book sends a message of hope for the future and I would recommend everyone should read this, regardless of gender. I had a personal interest in reading this book as I was sexually assaulted a number of years ago. Even now, I blame myself for being in that situation. That event changed my life forever - I will never again go out alone after dark. Thank you to Roxane Gay and all contributors for bringing these stories together. Thank you to NetGalley and Atlantic Books for the opportunity to read and review this anthology prior to publication.
Im really sick of seeing the victim card played by other women who want to spit venom and not get called out for it. Please end this crying wolf crap