US Feminist Writer Roxane Gay Gets Apology For A 'Cruel And Humiliating' Interview

Australian feminist website Mamamia has had to issue an apology

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Roxane Gay is the brilliant mind that brought us Bad Feminist, Difficult Women and the just-released Hunger: A Memoir of (my) Body.

Hunger is 42 year-old Gay's new book which is about weight gained, weight lost, and all things in-between.

She discusses the personal story of being gang-raped at 12-years-old and how her subsequent weight gain meant she struggled navigating the fat-phobic world she lives in.

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Gay has written about her body before, both in her books and online, but this is the most in-depth journey into her weight that Roxane has put on paper.

Gay told Vice that this particular book tour has been 'more awkward than any interviews I've done before'.

And, back in May, Gay even Tweeted about some of those encounters.

She wrote on 24th May:

Ok I can't keep this in. I just did an interview w/ someone who read Hunger and they said "we did a bunch of special things to accommodate you. Like. Am I supposed to be grateful you provided a sturdy chair? Why would you tell me this? Is it that arduous? Come on.

Mia Freedman

Now, it seems like the offending journalist has outed herself to be Mia Freedman of MamaMia.

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Mia Freedman is 45-years-old and was the youngest ever editor of Australian Cosmopolitan at the age of 24.

Gay's podcast interview for the Australian website came out on Monday, and though it has been taken down and amended, people have screenshots of the podcast's original description as well as the cache being available online.

Both now edited sections explained the planning between the website and Gay's 'people'. The intro on the original article before the podcast read:

When you're interviewing an international guest or someone very famous, there are always logistics to be organised. But Roxane Gay's requirements were different. I'd estimate there were more than a dozen exchanges back and forth between my producer and her people and the details of them both broke my heart and opened my eyes.

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And the Podcast intro seems to have read:

A lot of planning has to go into a visit from best-selling author, college professor and writer Roxane Gay. Will she fit into the office lift? How may steps will she have to take to get to the interview? Is there a comfortable chair that will accommodate her six-foot-three, 'super-morbidly-obese' from? None of this is disclosed with a mean spirit, it's part of what Roxane writes about in her new book Hunger...

Whatever Freedman's intentions, the response was overwhelmingly negative.

A former staff member of the magazine even spoke out against it:

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Many say this concern as being paternalistic, patronising and even hostile.

Gay herself spoke out about her treatment on Twitter, calling it 'cruel and humiliating'.

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Another Tweet read, 'I am appalled by Mamamia. It was a shit show. I can walk a fucking mile.'

And another: Whatever. Just what the fuck ever.

Clearly upset and angry about the website handling of her brave story, MamaMia changed the introductions.

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Then Freedman wrote an apology for Roxane on the site. She explained how she understands her mistake in that she assumed she could speak of Gay's experience like Gay does.

I made many mistakes. The first and worst was not understanding the difference between Roxane writing in her book, Hunger, about her experiences and difficulties of trying to navigate the world and me talking about that experience from the outside, from my perspective.

She closed the article explaining that she considers herself a feminist as deeply admires Gay's work:

It's something I've fought for my entire career in the media, a more diverse portrayal of women. More acceptance for different body shapes. An end to body shaming. The irony of me upsetting and distressing someone who has been so influential and instrumental in the way I view feminism and body image is not lost on me. I am beyond mortified, horrified and ashamed that I could have, in any way contributed to Roxane Gay feeling anything other than fierce, brilliant and beautiful. Because that's what she is and that is what I've always thought her to be.

The New York Times reached out to Gay for comment.

She explained that although it is frustrating that this story has somewhat eclipsed the announcement of her book, in a way it aids the conversation she is trying to have by writing it.

Really? This is the story? That's not what I wanted for my book or for myself. It is helpful, in that I think people get to see, in real time, what fat-phobia looks like and just how careless people can be in considering that fat people deserve dignity. So I suppose it's a useful example of why I wrote the book.

Roxane has continued on her book tour and threw a considerable amount of shade Freedman's way in a live-streamed interview with The Wall Street Journal:

It seems perverse that Gay needs to undergo such humiliation for the point of her book, but at least she has the support of a lot of fans who see her for much more than her size.

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