UPDATE: You can read Mia Freedman’s personal message to Roxane Gay, here.
At Mamamia, we are huge Roxane Gay fans and supporters, so it was an honour to welcome the best-selling author and professor into our offices last month to record a podcast interview.
Her books and works are greatly admired, and as you’d imagine there was much excitement that she was coming into the office.
As an iconic feminist and one of the most well-respected and powerful voices in feminism, Roxane Gay has long been a role model for women and someone Mamamia has and will continue to champion and admire.
The interview was to promote Roxane’s new memoir, Hunger (you should buy it here), which is a very personal and detailed account of her relationship with her body, her sexuality, her weight and her experience as a victim and survivor of rape. In Hunger she writes extensively about the impact her physicality has on her life and the difficulties she encounters physically and emotionally in navigating a world (and attitudes) that often do not accommodate someone of her size. All of which are detailed in her book.
As a publisher that’s consistently championed body diversity and representation in the media, we believe the conversations sparked by Roxane’s book are vitally important for women, and are disappointed our execution of this story hasn’t contributed in the way we intended. We’re deeply apologetic that in this instance we’ve missed the mark in contributing to this discussion.
Prior to the interview, many requests were made to the producer of the episode via email and in phone calls by Roxane’s book publishers about the logistics of her visit.
We understand these questions were asked in good faith to make Roxane feel as comfortable as possible and we willingly answered all questions and complied with all requests. It is always our top priority that all our guests feel welcomed, relaxed and at ease.
In the context of these logistics prompted by her publishing team, the interviewer respectfully raised them with Roxane as an example of what she writes in her book.
Roxane addressed them as follows:
“It’s very stressful because you just never know if there is a space that is going to accommodate me. Are there going to be sturdy chairs? Are the chairs going to have arms? How wide are the arms? How low is the chair? It’s just a constant series of questions that you are asking yourself every single day before you go into any space, and it’s exhausting because people don’t think, they just assume that everyone fits in the world like they do.”
We felt that this was an important issue that was integral to understanding Roxane’s point of view in the world and helping people learn about and empathise with a perspective they may never have considered – just as she writes in her book.
In no way did Mamamia ever intend to make Roxane Gay feel disrespected and we apologise unequivocally that that was the unintended consequence, including to her publishing team who organised the visit and made the requests in good faith. We are mortified to think she would ever believe this to be the case or that we have upset someone we so deeply admire and respect.
As soon as we became aware of her feelings about it, we took down the written post, edited the podcast intro and changed the podcast description to remove all references to the questions asked by her publishers and about details she said she found upsetting.
Just like her previous works Hunger, Roxane Gay’s latest book, couldn’t come more highly recommended.
You can buy Hunger, here.