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review 2018-09-30 19:15
Not That Bad
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Gay

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

This collection of essays is a very enlightening one: about people who were raped and/or sexually assaulted, about those who work with them, about the rape culture that permeates so many places and societies.

The latter especially is worth mentioning, because little gestures, little ‘jokes’, everyday sexism and attitudes and ‘if you wear those clothes then You’re Asking For It’ sayings are the foundations of something deeper, something that leads to rape, and make it so that no matter what, the victims are still the ones who have to justify themselves. Justify the amount of times they said ‘no’; or whether they said it clearly enough (apparently, for many people, a woman who says no actually means yes… and they never question it, and therefore make a decision based on what they want to hear). Justify and quantify their pain: if it was ‘so bad’, shouldn’t they be dead? And, since they aren't, shouldn’t they be grateful that ‘at least they’re not dead’ (as if that could erase and negate what was done to them)? As if this was but a trifle, something that you just can, and have to, get over with, because mentioning it will Make Other People Uncomfortable.

I guess I should be grateful that the ‘only’ aggression I had to go through dealt with random guys deciding that fondling my thigh in the train was something they had a God-given right to do. Or grateful that they ‘only’ flashed their dick in front of my face. It wasn’t ‘that bad’, right? Well, screw that. At the root of it, our stupid, crappy society is still stuck on Man Sees, Man Takes (sometimes women do that, too, but it’s nevertheless much more often the other way ‘round, because Boys Will Be Boys, and all that rubbish we dump into boys’ heads when they’re still so little). And as long as we don’t wake up and grow up for a change, this won’t go away.

The styles are varied, by various authors (female, male, trans), including even an essay in comics format, while being close enough to clearly resonate as a whole. They read quickly and easily in terms of grammar/vocabulary, and yet remain powerful and hard to stomach as well, due to the theme they explore and the pain they deal with, whether they are actually depressing or carrying some form of hope.

These essays are definitely worth reading: as an eye opener for some, as a reminder in general of what is at stake, of the day to day attitudes towards sexual harassment, of all the tiny ways well-meaning people can and will say/do the wrong things.

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review 2018-07-25 08:28
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Azimi

This collection of essays addressing rape culture is deeply personal, insightful, and at times scathing and raw. There were several pieces in here that have stuck with me, and I know will continue to do so for years to come. I could relate to almost every essay - the specifics were different, but the feelings were so often very much the same. The title, Not That Bad, echoes through these experiences as a connective thread. Almost every survivor included feeling as though their personal experience wasn't worthy of the depth of their feelings because "it could always be worse."


On a personal note, as a survivor I found this collection simultaneously deeply affirming and extremely draining. Reading it made me exhausted and pensive, but ultimately I found the processing this book induced very illuminating and healing. If rape stories trigger you then stay away from this book, but if you're healing and think it might be helpful to hear other voices this is an excellent collection. If your life has been affected by sexual violence, or you know someone who has been affected (sadly, that's most of us), this book shines a light on the darkness. Regardless of your own experiences we all live in a society that progresses rape culture, and this book captures that essence and how it plays out for so many people - that alone makes these essays important and relevant to all of us.

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review 2018-06-02 23:02
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Gay
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 blaming or the effect the attack had on the person later in life. Again fine, but the title mentions culture and that is lacking somewhat. The essays that are the better essays are the ones that connect more strongly to culture - such as those by Union, Stokes, Chen, and xTx.

But this book should be required reading
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review 2018-02-21 04:30
Hunger -- honesty on a platter
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body - Roxane Gay

This is embarrassing. I started reading this and immediately knew the first story, which is a good clue I've read it before. I continued knowing the stories all the way through. In fact I'm pretty sure this book is where I first learned of Blue Apron(tm). I don't keep a good list usually (though I'm trying to remedy that) and apparently I'd not marked it as read. Every time my Kindle updates, it marks ALL of my books as "New" so I have no idea.


Nonetheless, this book was worth a second read. I have a feeling I may have blocked some of this one out because it's so truthful and honest, and I wasn't in a place - even just a couple of years ago - to be quite so honest with myself. Something has changed since then, and I truly appreciated her sharp honesty on this read. I found many things I could relate to: most of all the desire to disappear after trauma, and to disappear by gaining enough weight that society ignores me. This book alone could give me grist for the therapy mill for a while (honestly, these topics have been grist for the therapy mill for a while already, but I'm a pro at avoidance.)


It's funny. I work in this arena. I know all of these things. I can therapize others with the best of them, but it's so tough to be this kind of honest with myself or the few people I trust most. I certainly couldn't write a book about my personal shame. I so appreciate, respect and owe massive gratitude to Roxane Gay and others who write this kind of truth.

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review 2018-02-13 20:25
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body - Roxane Gay

I Picked Up This Book Because: I saw some buzz about the book and decided to pick it up.

The Story:

Roxane’s story cannot be neatly summed up in a few words of a review. Her tale is deeply personal. There is tragedy and self depreciation. There are realizations that most wouldn’t want to admit to themselves let alone write on paper and send it out into the world. I sincerely hope her words reach someone in need of knowing they are not alone and encourage them to get the help we can all be reluctant to get (and I am not talking one bit about her weight). I hope someone reads this or shares passages of this with someone in need of taking the first step on the arduous journey of becoming happy with themselves. Not just their body but their inner self. To realize they have worth and that they deserve happiness.

The Random Thoughts:

The Score Card:


4 Stars

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