In this anthology edited by Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, a diverse group of writers disclose their experiences with sexual harassment, aggression, and assault as well as the shame and belittlement that has too often been a consequence of speaking out.
You might look at that subtitle and think, 'There is no way I’m reading that.' Which is exactly the reason why it’s important to do it anyway. Not all of the essays are about rape, but all of them examine the culture that allows and encourages men and boys to take what they want from women (and girls and boys) regardless of what the other person wants or how that other person feels. It is also about a culture that makes victims believe that whatever awful thing happened to them was their fault ... There is a lot of darkness in this book, but there is also the bright light of #MeToo wisdom.
It is a difficult, almost unbearable look at what perpetrators are capable of. The details, devastation and sheer number of men helping themselves to the bodies of women, girls and boys deaden the reader. It is a critical work that makes this much clear: The violations #MeToo rages against can and do damage people for a lifetime ... They are a diverse group of women and men: famous and never published before, young and old, straight, queer and transgender. Among them are an army wife, a biochemist, an exterminator, a lawyer, a cartoonist, an eighties film icon and an author researching mental illness in the suburbs. Their stories make clear that the reverberations of sexual predation live on inside all kinds of people. Not That Bad peers into the psychology of victimhood, mining elements of sexual violence we don’t understand very well yet.
In their underacknowledged anguish, the contributors gave the book...'a place for people to give voice to their experiences,' to describe their wounds and attempt to fortify others with similar injuries. Almost all the entries are confessional, restless with frustration and pain. And the anger of Not That Bad’s contributors...is hardly confined to their assailants. The greater betrayal comes from complicit parents, callous peers, thoughtless doctors ... The problem lies with families, the friends that families keep, the church congregations to which families belong, and the professionals to whom families turn. At sixteen, after her father tries again [to assault her], Tracey writes letters to every adult she knows, begging for assistance leaving home. She receives no replies.