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Not That Bad

Dispatches from Rape Culture
Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
5 out of 5 stars (320 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times best-selling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays read by all 30 contributors, including Gabrielle Union, Ally Sheedy, and Lyz Lenz, 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 best-selling 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, and Claire Schwartz.

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 listener, 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.

The full list of narrators includes: Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Ally Sheedy, Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, Aubrey Hirsch, Jill Christman, Lynn Melnick, Brandon Taylor, Emma Smith-Stevens, A.J. McKenna, Lisa Mecham, Vanessa Mártir, xTx, Sophie Mayer, Nora Salem, V.L. Seek, Michelle Chen, Liz Rosema, Anthony Frame, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Miriam Zoila Pérez, Zoe Medeiros, Sharisse Tracey, Stacey May Fowles, Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes, Meredith Talusan, Nicole Boyce, and Elissa Bassist.

©2018 Roxane Gay (Compilation and introduction) (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Such a powerful and necessary collection!" (AudioFile)

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  • Overall
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definitely an important book

This collection of essays describe just what the title says. This idea that because YOUR story is "not that bad," that it does not qualify as rape. These stories concern emotionally dealing with rape culture and rape.

There are some essays that are wonderful standouts. I thought the one about refugees did not fit the flow of the essays, but it really opened my eyes to the dangers of being a refugee and especially a female refugee. I don't have the book to flip through, but there are some must-listens in here for sure!

The essays last about 10-30 minutes so I found one or two chapters a day easier to digest. Doing a 2 hour run of rape stories isn't the most pleasant experience ... I think this one is better to partition by essay by essay. And then it was nice to have a little moment of quiet time after each essay as I completed my drive to work.

Roxane Gay edited the book, so she doesnt have an essay in here, just an intro.

I'm trying to be impartial about this book. There are stories about people who gave consent to sex, but did not want to give consent. And those stories might be a huge divider on people's interpretation of the book. Also, if you're a staunch conservative and/or male, you might feel attacked if you don't sufficiently understand women's rights (or if you've engaged in some of the behavior listed in this book). So, is this book for everybody? I think it is, I just don't think everybody is ready for the book.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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The most moving book I've read this year

A collection of essays from a true variety of people reveals a true variety of experiences with rape culture. The thing you really take away from this book, however, is not the diversity of experiences but rather the common vein that runs through them. I could not recommend it more.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Reno, NV, United States
  • 11-25-18

Essential listening

Essential reading. I recommend listening, though — each writer narrates their own entry, and their voices add so much to the telling that I can’t imagine experiencing the book any other way (although I got the Kindle version, too). The essays are not about the rapes and assaults themselves but generally about how the writers dealt with the aftermath. It's all so nuanced and powerful. Most writers didn’t tell anybody, let alone report, what happened — although there’s one particularly memorable essay where a teenage girl tells everyone and no one believes her. This book couldn't help but make me think about those who say America doesn’t have a rape culture and point to a country where women are stoned to death for being raped — “Now that’s a rape culture,” they say. In this book, so many of the women downplayed their own trauma because at least it wasn’t as bad as if it'd been a stranger with a gun, a gang rape, or a murder, too. Their suffering was prolonged because they couldn't stop thinking of others who had it worse. The suffering caused by this country’s pervasive sexual violence and aggression will continue as long as people are given credence who say it’s not that bad compared with what’s happening over there. Grade: A

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Important.

As a survivor of abuse, this is the most healing book I've read. An important read for all people.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Powerful

These are powerful essays with unique perspectives on rape culture made stronger in the audio edition as each author reads her or his own work. Even if you're not a feminist or interested in the many ways people experience rape culture, these essays are well-crafted and engaging and the variety of voices and points of view will keep you listening.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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tough but necessary

I hate that books like this have to exist but I'm grateful that this one does. All of the essays were powerful but the last one will stay with me forever and should be required reading for all high school aged kids, who should read it again while at university and then again post college and at least twice a year after that.

I also appreciated Roxane's explanation of "not that bad" I've often said this to myself and other women...I am ashamed of this fact. thank you for highlighting why it is all that bad.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Listen

This was one of the hardest books I’ve ever listened too. I don’t know what I expected from the book but a few paragraphs in, I was sobbing. As a survivor of rape and sexual assault, it was painful, retraumatizing and made me feel hopeless at times where other times it gave me hope and made me feel empowered. I almost bought this book as a paperback and while I think it would have been good still, hearing these stories of survival first hand in the voices of survival is a whole other level. Listen to this book. It is so very important.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Eye opening for sure

As a male I never stopped and thought of all the daily interactions females had to experience and how the world was against them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Everyone should read this book

While I started listening to this book in early September, I didn't pick it up again until right before the Kavanaugh hearings. I'm not sure if this was excellent or poor timing, but it certainly added to the experience. All of the essays are extremely well written, and illustrate rape culture in many different ways. I also liked the the essays were fairly inclusive. Authors represented multiple races, cultures, gender identities and sexualities. While some stories mirrored my experiences more than others, all of the essays are relatable in their own way. Basically, this book turned my latent rage incandescent. I would recommend this book to literally everyone. Everybody should read this book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A moving must-listen collection

I knew I would love this book before I hit play, but I didn't realize how moving it would be to listen to each author read their own stories. There's something about hearing the experiences literally in the writers own voices that had me shaking my head, dropping my jaw, nodding in agreement, and, more often than I expected, shedding tears. This is an important collection that deserves not only to be read but to be heard and acted upon. This is #rapeculture, from the worst of the worst to the "not that bad" moments that every woman has experienced and needs to stop explaining away. It's the rape culture behavior that needs to stop and this book is an important step in that direction. You will be effected by this book but you must read it!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful