Published by Harper Perennial
Publication date: May 1, 2018
Genres: Book Clubs, Essays, Non-fiction, Social Issues
I feel like a broken record for all the times since 2017 that I’ve said, “Important reading. Timely reading. Everyone should read.”, but here I am again. Not That Bad, with its essays from women around the world, talking about their experiences of rape, harassment, intimidation, and violence is the kind of reading that goes beyond tears. In Roxanne Gay’s foreword we learn that she was gang raped when she 12 and that it became the benchmark in her life against which she would judge every slur against her looks, every threat of violence because of her mind, body-shaming for her weight…all were considered “not that bad” because she had survived something worse. That this is the baseline for any woman makes my soul hurt.
And yet, thanking God that we’ve never been raped or beaten is just as insidious. Thinking that our harassment/objectification/pain is “not that bad” puts us all even more at risk. IT IS THAT BAD. It is all bad and wrong and must be called out. These essays are by women known, such as actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union, to those unknown. They cover everything from physical violence to the insidious dissonance caused by being told, usually from the time we are very little girls, that feeling anger is a bad thing and showing it a death knell to ever being loved.
Not That Bad shows how endemic the mistreatment of women is in our society, from outright violence to the lesser slights of covert discrimination. As such it is difficult and melancholy reading, but there is power in these women who have given voice to their pain. Like so much of what is happening in the world now, looking away may be easier, but these women, all women, need to be seen and heard if anything is ever going to change.