tv Call-in with Roxane Gay Not That Bad CSPAN May 12, 2019 2:35pm-3:01pm EDT
new book, journalists examines which a socialist system would look like in america and jack lean jackson and her son, former congressman will discuss the letters they wrote to one another while incarcerated. that's all tonight in prime time, check your cable guide for more information. >> please to be joined by author and professor, roxanne, newest book which she edited, it's called not that bad, rape culture, how did this book come about. >> i pitched this book to my publisher after about feminism came out and i wanted to encourage and invite more voices into the conversation about sexual violence and so i thought a good way to do that would be with antology and my publisher
was on board. i was hoping for critical essays about that and then i ended up getting around 330 submissions and of those 300 of them were testimonies where women and men saying, that isis what i've been through and i realize that my intellectual ambitions for were not there yet where we can have the critical conversation about ethe culture and the book took n a different stage. >> how did it shape differently? >> it became more people talking about their own experiences or the experiences of loving people who have dealt with sexual assault and it became far more testimonial than i ever intended arbut in that, the book becomes this really powerful artifact that shows how bad it really is. >> how did you get the submission?
>> yeah, i put out a call on social media and that was enough. i have a lot of followers and so the word quickly spread and any time there's news of new writing opportunities, the writing community is vast and word spreads quickly and it was challenging to go through submissions and tieing what we wanted but we did it. >> the first word of the book are pretty rough. when i was 12 years' old i was gang raped in the woods behind my neighborhood by a group of boys. >> yes. >> how has that impacted you now as adult woman? >> the further away i get from it, the easier it becomes but the reality is it happened nearly 30 years ago and i'm still dealing with the repercussions and it has shaped almost every aspect of my life, how i see myself, how i interact with others, my relationships, my own body, so it was something
that happened once for several hours and decades of impact so it's been really challenging. >> have you ever had or we wanted to confront the boys who did this, now the men who did this? >> yes, i never confronted them. i only knew one of their names but i dream about it all of the time like what it would be like, what would i really want from a confrontation because, of course, statute of limitations has long past but all i would want for them to acknowledge, yes, we did this terrible thing and maybe an apology, though, it swon't repair what happened, it would at least help to not be crazy. >> 12-year-old, were you able to talk about it at that time to your mother and other adults. >> i didn't tell anyone for many, many years because i was catholic girl, good catholic girl and i thought i had committed a sin by having premarital sexea and i didn't
realize the difference between rape and sex at the time and i kept the secret to myself and going to food as coping mechanism and turned in on myself and write about stories who hadnc been through terrible things but i could never tell i anyone this isn't actually fiction, i'm writing my story. >> where did you grow occupy? >> in omaha, nebraska. >> you're living la? >> i am. >> you're still at perdue. >> i'm commuting for about 4 years, a hell of a commute but i was at perdue until this year and this year i'm teaching at yale university so i fly out every other week and then i teach on skype the other week. it's been interesting because i am from the midwest and i've lived all over the country i've lived the majority of my life in the middle of the country and la, the weather is always perfect and the people i care about most are here. now, of course, my partner is in
new york which is challenging but we are making it work and i can convince her to eventually to move to the good life. >> roxanne gay, your chance to talk with her, 747-8200. actress gabriel union has gasubmission. >> she does. an essay published in los angeles times and i remember reading it in the la times and thinking, oh, my gosh, this is so powerful and was so well written and she particularly brings attention to the challenges of black women face when dealing with rape and sexual assault and i knew thewe minute i read it that i wanted to be able to include it in the
antology and she was gracious enough to do that. >> what's that situation? >> she was involved in the movie, had role in the movie and that prompted her to write her piece because it came out that had engaged in act of rape and she writes about having to make that choice that was probably going to negatively affect her career and have to stand up and do the right thing or protect her career and she ended up doing the right thing and fortunately she was believed and people supported the decision that she made and i think it was just an incredible thing that she did for all of us to have dealt with sexual violence. >> the name of the book is not that bad but some of the related scenes that i saw in reading it, thank god you're not dead, you didn't die, it's my fault.
>> yes. >> is that common? >> i think that's absolutely utcommon. a lot of times when we are sexual assaulted we believe that we did something wrong, we did something to invite the assault and we have no language for that beyond it's my fault and also there's a lot of chain attached to these crimes. the title not that bad actually comes from the ways in which we tend to minimize our experiences and we send to be grateful, he didn't have a gun, he didn't kill me, it wasn't my family that did this to me, it was a stranger, or it was my family that did this to me, at least it wasn't a stranger, when we minimize our experiences we tend the flatten the experience of sexual assault and deny the truth that it is that bad no matter what and certainly violence on spectrum but we can still say that any point on the spectrum is that bad. >> one of your previous books
was bad feminism. do you call yourself a bad feminist? >> oh, absolutely. >> why? what does that mean? >> it was partly tongue-in-cheek, of course, i'm a feminist, i'm really bad at it because i listen to a lot of misogynistic music and i love it because it has beat, that song is classic, also offensive to women, but i also believe that i have a right to reproductive freedom and abortion, i believe that i should be paid as a man and so, yes, i'm feminist but i'm bad at it. i'm also historically feminism has tend today focus on the concerns of heterosexual
feminism. >> prior to that your book was difficult women? >> yes. >> or different women? >> all of the women in the stories in difficult women feel a range of emotions that often times women are told are being difficult and so it was a really great catch-all title for the women in the book and the kind of issues that they deal with and also sounds really good and i clearly like short titles. >> are you a difficult woman? >> i'm very difficult. >> in what way? >> i have opinions and i believe awhat i believe and i'm incredibly stubborn.e i'm actually really nice which is good but i am not afraid to advocate for the things that i pagely believe in and often times when you're passionate advocate especially anything in
social justice you're labeled as difficult and i'm fine with that. i don't mind being difficult. i'm not too difficult. exactly the right amount. >> you look out loud on social media, you're not shy about sharing your experiences, what you're going through. even on flight to australia you had several tweets about that flight. >> it was a very long flight. [laughter] >> is there a correlation or a connection between what happened to you and living out loud? >> i think in part because actually in my day-to-day life i'm shy and quiet and so social media gives me the opportunity to say all the things that i wish i could say in person anday freedom to it and i started using the internet in 1992 andin back then you could pretend to be anything and there was this distance between yourself and reality and so the person i am online today is me, at least a version of me but a freedom
there and, you know, when you keep secret to yourself for so long, it's so terrible, when you really decide to free yourself from the secret, you died that you will not ever be quiet again about the things that matter. on social media i'm just allowing myself the space to be vocal about what matters to me and i think it's a really -- it's perfect medium for complaining. i would never complain, for example, someone who is doing their job and doingn the best they can but i can complain to twitter, it's going to stay exactly in a tweet, that's it. life goes on. so i have a lot of fun with it.d but i'm also really private. i have very firm boundaries about what i will and will not share. >> what do you teach at perdue? >> i teach creative writing and workshops in fiction and nonfiction.
>> i hate to do this and you won't answer it, do you have a favorite or story that grabbed you in not that bad. >> i do have a couple of favorites, ways to be a girl, ways taught to be a girl, i thought it was really good because it's sort of milder end of the spectrum but every woman deals with, places where we are etaught that our bodies are not our own and part of public discourse whether we wantnd to e or not, aubrey hurst, opening essay in the collection, miriam zoila pérez wrote amazing essay about loving a woman who has been raped even though she has not had the experience herself, and i loved all 29 essays as much as you can love something about something so difficult but, of course, there are highlights. >> consider what happened to her sexual assault?
>> i think that it's sexual misconduct and, you know, it's tricky with these words, but that was inappropriate and i think it's it's important to language for talking about inappropriate behavior and it was definitely sexual misconduct and every young woman who is going into acting deals with some level and often times especially harvey weinstein story, the women lead, ambitions are immediately brought to a halt because some man decided that he had more right to her body than she had right to a career. >> one of the things that intrigued me about her essay was the 13, 14-year-old girl who was going before. >> that was one of the most painful parts that the young girls are experiencing sexual predation when 13 and 14-year-olds should be allowed to be 13 rand 14. if they want to become actors they should allow to explore the
dream without having to be objectified, they are still children. >> roxane gay, our guest, marian calling from michigan, mary, you're on book tv. >> thank you, i'm calling to express my appreciation because i just think what you've written is so powerful. i haven't read it yet but that's been my professional life and i'm so grateful that you've taken the time to bring these together. my question to you, professor, my concern about your own feeling with this in the private way as catholic woman, i have done this kind of work all of my life and i wondered if there was anything those of us who are activists in this field would be suggesting to do because that's not your capability or your
intention at the moment. especially reporting for one thing. >> all right, mary, before we get an answer, could you tell us what you meant when you say you've done this in a professional. >> thank you.io that's a great question. make negotiating the justice system and the healthcare system in the aftermath of sexual assault easier by being advocates, by talking about avenues of justice beyond the court system and not everyone
trying to assert their best interest so talking about justice and doing the kinds of work to do restorative justice. it's important to believe women and be there for them when they are dealing with this. >> on with author roxane gay. >> hi, thank you so much for your work. i just wanted to go back to the topick of sexual harassment in african american communities and even brown communities, i grew up in the inner city and i have dozens of stories where young women were sexualized at a very, very early age, i myself experienced some sexual harassment. i know that many of the inner city communities lack a lot of resources, but i think this topic is so important because it
affects families and then generations of familiess especially when it comes to reproductive life, so i was just wondering what do you think that communities of -- of individuals with less resources can do to better educate their daughters, their sons, parents, people who, you know, who have a major role in a young developing mind in life? >> yes, i think the most important thing that communities without resources can do is encourage people to get help from community-base resources that are available if at all possible. but also to have the necessary conversations with the young people about what enthusiastic and active consent looks like, to not necessarily talk to young girls about how they -- but talk
to men about how to treat women. again, i think it also is important especially in blacken and brown communities to believe women, we recently saw that r. kelly, the world has known about predation for more than 20 years and now that we are talking about him facing justice because people did not value the victims which were black women and so it's really important that we remember that we are as valuable as anyone else and that our stories can be believed. >> from gabriel union's wiping the stain clean essay, not that bad, quote, we are making an effort to teach our sons about affirmative consent, the onus is on them explicitly for partner consent and we tell them that they have to hear yes.
just to go to daniel's question, another essay in there tracee. that was difficult reading. >> that was difficult reading.>> >> i have known her for a few years and met her at event and we stayed in touch and she has heroine story about dealing with sexual abuse from her father and that is so painful when it's someone who is suppose today love you and take care of you and you're supposed to be able to trust this person to have the best interest and when the person betrays the trust, it's devastating, i can't even imagine it to be honest and she writes about not only what she endured butn the aftermath of betrayal and the ways she was betrayed by her family and her community when her story was doubted and when she was overlooked because of her experiences and we have to do better and this is actually not something that's unique to the african-american communities.
women in general are not believed but i think that in the african-american community, often times the shame becomes evener more pronounced because e tend to be -- we don't talk about the things that we go through because women, black women in particular are expected to be the strong black women and we are not allowed to have moments of weakness, we are not allowed to show suffering if and when we suffered and we really have to resist those singular narratives that don't allow us gto be complex and realized people. >> you finally talked about your leexperience in whoever you tald to believed you. >> yeah, absolutely. one of the things i'm most grateful i have been believed when i shared my story and when my family found out they were angry on my behalf and my father in particular who is an amazing man told me that he would have gotten justice for me and i know that to be true but, you know,
when you're 12 years old, i didn't know any better. a lot of times parents come up to me at events and ask, what could i have done, what could i do in case it happens to my child and thea reality my participants did everything that aa good parent could do and it wasn't about them, it was about my fear and my shame, but they believed me and that goes a long way. >> one more essay, anthony the neplummer. >> yes. >> how did you meet anthony? on social media again, he followed you? >> he found the call through social media and submitted through the submission field like everyone else and i very much wanted to include essays by men because men are part of the conversation and then do experience sexual violence, they do deal with rape and i wanted t them to be able to share their experiences and hopefully experienced honored in the way
they deserve to be. >> not that bad is the same of roxane gay's newest book, she's the editor, rip culture, are you working on another book? >> i'm working on several other books, writing advice and young adult novel, i learned everything. >> you've written comic books, fiction, nonfictions. >> yeah, i write a little bit of everything. >> i'm like a swiss army knife. >> thank you for spending time with our viewers. >> thank you for having me. >> every year book tv covers book fairs an festival around the country, nearly 400 to date. here is a look at some of the events coming up. we will be live from the gattersburg festival, athletes and activism, race and gender in america and more. on may 29th through the 31st look for us at bookexpo in new
york city, the largest publishing trade fair in the united states. and we are live again in chicago for the printers lit fest on june 8th and 9th, roosevelt reading festival at the fdr presidential library and museum in high park, new york, later in june, tune in or coverage of american library conference held this year in washington, d.c. and for more information about upcoming book fairs and festivals and to watch our previous festival coverage click book fairs tab, booktv.org. our weekly author interview program that includes best-selling nonfiction books, recently stanford university professor jennifer offered her insights on implicit racial bias, coming up, reflect on her time in the marine corps and efforts to overturn ban on women
and combat, this weekend on afterwords, republican senator mike lee of utah provides his thoughts on the overreach of government. >> typically what we talk about when we refer to natural rights are things that the government may not do to you, positive rights that rights to health care or rights to this or that government program. those are not what we would typically think of in terms of rights. something that the government must provide for you and must therefore take away from someone else in order to give it to you. that might be something that an individual might regard as good policy but important to make the distinction between what someone might believe is good policy or not and are right. we do serious violence to the concept of rights and to our right and we dilute the use of the work when we use it in
circumstances that don't involve something that the government may not do to you or allow and facilitate happening to you. >> afterwords airs saturdays at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on book tv on c-span2 and all previous afterwords programs are available as pod cost and to watch online at booktv.org. >> welcome to stern policy center at hudson institute, i'm john walters, chief operating officer and codirect center of substance abuse policy research. i want to send special welcome to those of you who are joining us from c-span and those online who are watching on this important topic.