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Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture

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4.48  ·  Rating details ·  10,082 ratings  ·  1,543 reviews
Cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay has edited a collection of essays that explore what it means to live in a world where women are frequently belittled and harassed due to their gender, and offers a call to arms insisting that "not that bad" must no longer be good enough.
ebook, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Harper Perennial
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Chris Blocker I am male. I was sexually assaulted by two women when I was a teenager. I said "no." One forced my hand down her pants. She grabbed at me. When they…moreI am male. I was sexually assaulted by two women when I was a teenager. I said "no." One forced my hand down her pants. She grabbed at me. When they realized I wouldn't comply, they said they were going to rape me. I didn't know this was possible at the time, but they told me they had drugs that would make it easy. I was afraid. I began to yell at them and they apparently decided I wasn't worth the effort. I was fortunate to escape.

I would argue that the source of the problem of rape is hateful people making a terrible choice, but what do I know? Everyone I've told about my experience says I should've just enjoyed it.(less)

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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
We tell ourselves it’s not that bad.
We’re told we’re angry women.

It is that bad.
I am angry.

We should be.
Emily May
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, 2018, nonfiction
Powerful. Raw. Stunning writing. Pretty much everything I would expect from a collection put together by Roxane Gay.
What is it like to live in a culture where it often seems like it is a question of when, not if, a woman will encounter some kind of sexual violence?

This is book about rape and rape culture. Some of the stories are empowering, some are depressing, but all talk about important aspects of the world we live in. Many of the writers explore how rape culture is not just about the act
...more
Hannah
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it, non-fiction
Sometimes, when a book speaks deeply to me, I have problems putting into words what my thoughts are. This is one of those cases. Roxane Gay has built an anthology so strong, both in subject matter and in style, that I am feeling inadequate talking about it. I will try though, so bear with me while I work through my feelings.

It comes as no surprise that Roxane Gay is my hero. When this anthology arrived on my doorstep (I had preordered it months ago), I could not wait to start reading it. And I
...more
Kai
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Don’t ever use an insult for a woman that you wouldn’t use for a man. Say “jerk” or “shithead” or “asshole.” Don’t say “bitch” or “whore” or “slut.” If you say “asshole,” you’re criticizing her parking skills. If you say “bitch,” you’re criticizing her gender.”

Trigger warning: violence, rape, and sexual assault.

I can't even begin to express the whirlwind of emotions that I felt while reading this book. They ran through my veins like poison, twisted my guts, brought tears to my eyes, and made me
...more
Cindy Pham
Update: Bumping this down to 3.5 stars as I thought more about the anthology's lack of cohesion and editing.

Really tough to get into at first, obviously due to the emotionally difficult subject matter. I appreciated the diversity of stories, both in terms of the authors' backgrounds and their experiences with rape culture. I expected all of the essays to be from people directly affected by rape, but liked that the authors had different experiences within the culture as a whole, and I think that
...more
Hanna
This has been, by far, the toughest book I've ever read. A numerical rating doesn't even seem to make sense with this essay collection. How do you rate people's trauma? Raw. Unflinching. Haunting. An essay collection that will be sitting with me for a long time.
Thomas
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism
Excellent anthology about rape culture and the patriarchal world we live in that perpetuates it. Roxane Gay serves as editor of this powerful collection in which several writers share their stories of date rape, inappropriate touching, child molestation, and other instances of violence and harassment. I appreciate the diversity in Not That Bad, both of the writers’ experiences as well as their identities, as the collection includes women of color, queer and trans individuals, people of various ...more
Raeleen Lemay
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
A tough read, but important and necessary.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Anyone who doesn't understand the lifelong impact of sexual abuse, rape, and trauma (and how very different it is from regret over a bad date) should read this book. An alternate title could have been been "Get Over It."

This also will probably be valuable to people who haven't been able to share their own stories but can find comfort in not being alone. These personal essays are not all by straight women, so that adds a necessary diversity to the picture.

Roxane Gay says in the introduction that
...more
da AL
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone needs to read this. Everyone. So many brave stories. The audio version is phenomenal. Throughout, I'm reminded of Frida Kahlo's painting, "A Few Small Nips," which quotes the words of
a man after he murdered his girlfriend.
Schizanthus
I went on a bit of a journey through Opposite Land while reading this book. I love that this book exists. I hate that it has to.

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
...more
Malia
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As is always the case with anthologies, some stories are more engaging than others. I also listened to this as and audiobook and I have to say, some narrators were very good and some so bad I almost couldn't listen to them.All in all, this was an interesting collection, if not exactly illuminating. I did think it was good to include authors with such a wide array of backgrounds and that not each experience was rape, but each experience did show that the threat of rape lies even in something ...more
Nat K
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This is your life. This is your life. This is your life."

I'm a huge fan of Roxane Gay & her ability to get the conversation started about topics we'd prefer not to talk about.

The introduction of this book has Roxane Gay recount the "terrible, life-changing experience" where as a twelve year old, she was gang raped by a group of boys, in the woods near her home.

It was a horrific event which she tried to forget. For a long time she shrugged it off as being "not that bad" (in comparison to
...more
Scott
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author/editor Roxane Gay has assembled nearly thirty essays from people who experienced rape, sexual abuse and/or child molestation. From understandable outrage ('Good Girls' by Amy Jo Burns and "All the Angry Women' by Lyz Lenz) to young innocence destroyed ('I Said Yes' by Anthony Frame and 'Picture Perfect' by Sharisse Tracey - both extremely heartbreaking) to the ugly side of the American entertainment industry (actress Ally Sheedy's timely 'Stasis') to the therapy process (Stacey May ...more
Monica
Impressions, perceptions, ideas, emotions, concepts on rape and rape culture. Far more complex than is evident.

Roxane Gay compiles a cornucopia of essays about all aspects of rape and rape culture. Rape culture is defined as a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. Multiple points of view are explored here (though only from the victim perspective). There are testimonies about how the rape culture somewhat
...more
Nadia
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know where to start reviewing this, Not That Bad evoked so much reaction in me and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to read it. If I only had one word to describe this book, I would choose POWERFUL.

I took my time reading this book, not because I didn't like it but because it is not an easy read. Each story in Not That Bad is written by someone who experienced rape or sexual abuse in some form. There is suffering, pain, depression, hate, self-blame... All of these
...more
Vanessa
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This I think is a very important read, but also definitely not one for the faint of heart. If I could change anything about my reading experience, I would have read this over a longer period of time and not essay after essay after essay in one sitting - unfortunately I had to do this as it was a library book with an impending due date, but I think I was by the last 25% not really engaging as much as I would have liked with the content. And these women's stories need to be heard. Well worth ...more
Rachel León
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, 2018, read-in-2018
This book should be required reading.
Claire
A challenging, confronting, critically important collection. Required reading.
Dannii Elle
Wherever you come from and whoever you may be, if you are reading this then go and read the book instead.

This is a raw collation of individual's responses to and experiences with rape culture. Many diverse perspectives are amalgamated here and it provides an entirely heart-breaking but powerful and necessary read.

Roxane Gay introduced this collection by relaying her own experiences with rape culture. What she encountered afterwards became a common theme throughout. Many individuals suffered from
...more
Laura Noggle
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Important. Challenging. Powerful. Heartbreaking.

Essential as it not only lets survivors of sexual assault know they are not alone and fighting similar demons, it should make you a better, more empathetic person from reading it.

Statistically, you know at least one survivor—if not more. It's impossible to know what someone is dealing with. By all means, be kind to your fellow humans.

These stories provide a range of experiences from all walks, ages, and perspectives of life. They need to be HEARD
...more
BookOfCinz
"Perhaps the most horrifying thing about nonconsensual sex is that, in an instant, it erases you. Your own desires, your safety and well-being, your ownership of the body that may very well have been the only thing you ever felt sure you owned—all of it becomes irrelevant, even nonexistent."

I felt so deeply for everyone who contributed. We are all fighting this battle and now more than ever we need to speak out.

Required reading.
Obsidian
I feel like a bad person for not totally loving this book. It was just hard to get through and some of the stories didn't really move me one way or the other. I ended up just feeling sad while reading and finally finishing this book off with some wine. I think also that looking at rape culture is a huge undertaking, and so the stories could have flowed a bit better between them to the next story. Also I wish that things were not left vague in a few stories. A few times I went wait what happened ...more
Sabrina
Everyone should read this book. So powerful, so relevant, so necessary. An intersectional take on what it means to live in American rape culture.
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
Rape and rape culture's not that bad.

Right?

Yes. It is that bad.

In Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, these aspects and their presences in our culture get splayed and dissected by various women and men in this book. For example, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Frame serve as narrators. Nothing's clean. Nothing's politically correct to protect the senses of rapists, molesters, and their enablers. A purging of pain and hindrance brought on by the aforementioned groups
...more
Ashley
I have never had such a hard time getting through a book that I liked. "Liked" actually feels like the wrong word here. How can I say I liked something that made me angry and frustrated almost 100% of the way through, and which filled me with dread every time I tried to convince myself to pick it back up again? Perhaps "appreciated"? Understand is necessary? See its importance? But not liked.

I didn't expect this reaction, even though rape is a tough subject to read about under the best
...more
Karena
Roxane Gay has put something together here that is almost indescribable. The very essence of rape culture has permeated our society so subtly that most don’t know of it other than in the most physical sense of the word. But in this collection of essays, writers of all backgrounds tell of how their lives have been affected. It is a masterful collection, one that is unflinching in its emotions and relatable in each person’s words.
Christine
Look, don't let my rating fool you. This is an important book; it should be required reading. I love the inclusion of both LGTB and male voices, and important.

I just, and this isn't going to sound nice but, I just wish there had more culture, if that makes sense. While the bulk of the collection are personal essays, most of those are about writers who have survived rape. Which is fine, but those personal essays, by and large, are also about coming to the realizations about lack of victim
...more
Maggie Wrobel
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Unforgettable, tragic, essential and true. This book is a monumental achievement - a light in the current, ever-present murky darkness.
It’s not easy to read, nor should it be, but it offers within it a type of solace through catharsis.
Thank you to Roxane and the incredibly brave, strong women who lent their voices to it.
Rose
It's hard for me to find words surrounding the collection of essays in this book from many different and equally important voices. This book - a collection of essays compiled by Roxane Gay - chronicles real life stories surrounding rape, sexual assault, rape culture, and ultimately how our society frames the experiences of many who suffer at the hands of these experiences as "not that bad" - pervasive cultural and societal minimization in experiences that are horrifying and inexcusable.

This
...more
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Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The ...more
“An angry man in cinema is Batman. An angry male musician is a member of Metallica. An angry male writer is Chekhov. An angry male politician is passionate, a revolutionary. He is a Donald Trump or a Bernie Sanders. The anger of men is a powerful enough tide to swing an election. But the anger of women? That has no place in government, so it has to flood the streets.” 30 likes
“Not everyone gets sex when they want it. Not everyone gets love when they want it. This is true for men and women. A relationship is not your reward for being a nice guy, no matter what the movies tell you.” 22 likes
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