Review: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture

Book cover to Roxanne Gay - Not That Bad
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book hits readers hard, really hard. This anthology explores what its like to be on the violated end of rape culture in American society. For those who do not understand what is meant when we use the term, "rape culture" or have trouble understanding why or how people are victims, this is a necessary read. Each contributor shares her, his, or their story about what it means to be perceived as a sex object first and (rarely) a human second. The stories that are told are powerful, not just because the writers are skilled and nuanced in how they unpack their trauma, but in the many different ways in which they are violated. No two stories are alike and yet every story strikes a universal pang of injustice and frustration with how often and how varied it happens coupled with empathetic tears to know that for some readers, there is solace in knowing it is not just them who have suffered as such and that for these authors to call it out can help those who may not be able to call it out now.

Much to the chagrin of misogynists and those who like to fetishize the work of feminism into some form of man-hating, the book does not cast wide nets of blame. The individuals speak to what has happened, they identify the individuals and at times, the culture, but this is not a book that is bashing. Rather, Gay collects and has edited this work to be one that focuses on truly hearing the victims. So much so, that rarely do readers even learn the name of the perpetrator. And this is an important step in this whole process. To those who may have never been victims, this book is an important read because it should raise in those questions about whether they have every violated knowingly or unknowingly another (regardless of the answer).

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