Book Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

18813642A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django Unchained) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture. (synopsis from Goodreads)

Rating: 10/10

At the end of her essay, “I Once Was Miss America”, Roxane Gay states: “Books are often far more than just books.” I believe that this statement applies to Bad Feminist. It is so much more than just a book on my shelf. It’s the discussions I’ve had with my friends put in the form of prose as well as a conversation with a new acquaintance on topics I haven’t considered before. It was both familiar and new, and the combination of the two made it an impactful and enlightening read.

I absolutely loved this book! It’s a book that every woman should read, especially any woman who calls herself a feminist but feels guilty for maybe not being the model feminist that she feels she is supposed to be at all times. Yes, sometimes we tend to like things that we probably shouldn’t. I was a fan of Outlander even though it contains some rather questionable scenes. I’ve liked songs with a catchy beat that didn’t paint women in a positive light. Everyone has done it! No one is immune, and Roxane Gay makes sure that we understand that in this collection of short essays. We are only human after all.

Throughout this collection, I found myself laughing at Roxane’s often sharp and critical wit, crying through descriptions of injustice and violence that she and millions of women are faced with, and angry that we are still fighting a battle that has been going on for ages. Gay covers a myriad of topics including gender issues and race relations, and makes it very clear that we still have a long way to go. There are so many in this country who are treated as second class citizens. Many who have to work twice as hard to get half the success or attention. Many who never even get the chance to prove themselves. Yet many call this the “land of equal opportunity”. How can we say something like this while inequality stares us right in the face?

I got the pleasure to read a viewpoint that is different from mine, and it was one of my better reading experiences. Sure, there were times that I disagreed with her on minor things, (I doubt there are two people in the world who would agree on absolutely everything) but that never made this book any less poignant to me. I respect her opinions, and I know that she would respect mine. At times, I even felt more like I was having a discussion with her. This could be because I have had many of these conversations with my friends, but it’s also because I never felt like she was talking at me, but rather talking with me.

Roxane Gay has taught me that it’s okay to be a “bad feminist” sometimes. We can’t be perfect, and no one can expect us to be perfect feminists all the time. We slip up. That’s part of being human. We shouldn’t let these moments of doubt stop us from claiming feminism. Instead, we should use these moments to become better people in the future.

Memorable Quotes: This is only a few of the ones that I found. There are so many more great ones!

Certainly we can find kinship in fiction, but literary merit shouldn’t be dictated by whether we want to be friends or lovers with those about whom we read. (“Not Here to Make Friends”)

Perhaps, then, unlikable characters, the ones who are the most human, are also the ones who are the most alive. Perhaps this intimacy makes us uncomfortable because we don’t dare be so alive. (“Not Here to Make Friends”)

The way we talk about gender makes it easy to forget Mars and Venus are part of the same solar system, divided by only one planet, held in the thrall of the same sun. (“How We All Lose”)

Some women being empowered does not prove the patriarchy is dead. It proves that some of us are lucky. (“How We All Lose”)

All too often, representations of a woman’s strength overlook that cost of that strength, where it rises from, and how it is called upon when needed most. (“What We Hunger For”)

There is no freedom in any circumstance where the body is legislated, none at all. (“The Alienable Rights of Women”)

I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all. (“Bad Feminist:Take Two”)


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