Book Review: The Marginalized Majority: Claiming Our Power in a Post-Truth America by Onnesha Roychoudhuri

Back in 2019, I came across an essay, which later turned out to be an excerpt from her book, written by her. She inspired my reading list this year. It wasn’t until I read her essay, did I think about the authors I mainly read. And of course, it was mostly men.

The Marginalized Majority is a very hopeful book. Published in 2018, its chronicles the sentiment after the 2016 US elections as well as the normalization of behaviors which were considered despicable not 10 years ago. However, it is not a book that will keep you up all night doom-scrolling. No, quiet the opposite. This book will make you feel hopeful.

Onnesha Roychoudhuri talks quite extensively about the power of protest. Despite the disdain of the mass media towards the Occupy Wall Street and the Women’s March protests in the last decade, she talks about how in fact these protests did help incrementally move society forward.

This book is a must read for anyone wanting to feel more hopeful, especially after living through 2020!

Book Review – Shrill:Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

“We live and then we stop living. We exist and then we stop existing. That means I only get one chance to do a good job. I want to do a good job.”

– Lindy West, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

On June 17, 2016, This American Life aired an episode titled Tell Me I’m Fat. Through that episode I learned about the writers Lindy West and Roxanne Gay, and since then they have been on my to-read list. Lindy West’s memoir really inspired me. At times it was really funny and at times I found myself in utter despair. Overall though it was very uplifting.

“The ‘perfect body’ is a lie. I believed in it for a long time, and I let it shape my life.”

– Lindy West, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

The book can be roughly divided up into three parts, or as West puts it, her three “little victories”. The first part deals with her experiences with fat-shaming and the “role-models” (or lack there of) who were available to her in her childhood. According to West, Ms. Piggy seemed to be the only semi-positive role-model. She also discusses that women are conditioned for “chasing perfection”, which is a scam because “There is no perfection.”

West’s second victory was when she stood up to comedians who tell rape jokes in their routines. She received a lot of backlash from that. She spoke out against the misogyny prevalent in comedy and ended up being “on the receiving end of a viral Internet hate mob”. She decided to read out loud the most vile comments in front of a camera, and posted the video online. After the video went viral, she received support from many people, including some comedians, with many of them realizing that rape-jokes are not okay.

Not only does Lindy West deal with fat-shaming and online trolls threatening her with rape, she faces harassment on Twitter by a man who stole her father’s identity. Reading about her experience with that was just heart-wrenching. She decided to write about it and after some time, the troll sends her an email apologizing to her. I remember listening to an episode on This American Life about this. That story was really uplifting.

The memoir ends on a positive note. Lindy West summarizes her three big wins, towards her goal in helping build a better world:

  1. fighting for fat people’s humanity
  2. putting an end to rape jokes in comedian routines
  3. dealing with and calling out trolls

Perhaps, there is still hope!