Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
Published August 5th 2014 by Harper Perennial
Paperback, 320 pages
A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.
“Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”
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 in Chains) 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.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
I’m ashamed of how long this review has taken me to write because I loved this book. As soon as I saw this title I knew I had to read this book. If it hasn’t come through so far, I can safely say Holly and I are a couple of feminists. Thanks Mom and Dad! Quite honestly I don’t understand why any woman wouldn’t call herself a feminist-but I’ll stop before I get ranty. Back to my point, Amanda is a feminist. Yet I admit it, I watch The Bachelor. I play dumb at the Home Depot. My husband always asks how the Bachelor meshes with my feminist opinions and I know it doesn’t – so in this and in other ways I can call myself a Bad Feminist also.
Anyway, this was a phenomenal collection of essays and its overly broad to say they’re about feminism alone. They’re also about competitive Scrabble, academia, racism, rape, weight struggles and reading. Oh the reading:
“If you’re reading to find friends you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “‘Is this a potential friend for me, but ‘Is this character alive?’ Perhaps, then, unlikeable 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.”
Gay lists so many books that I had to go into my Goodreads to keep up and make sure I could read them all. And honestly, anyone that can combine commentary on feminism and the reading of my childhood-Sweet Valley High- has my heart.
Aside from cultural commentary, this book was also part memoir and it was honest and painful. My heart ached for Gay as I read her stories. My heart also aches because those stories can apply to all women and unless we keep talking about feminism they’re never going to change.
“Feminists are celebrating our victories and acknowledging our privilege when we have it. We’re simply refusing to settle. We’re refusing to forget how much work there is yet to be done. We’re refusing to relish the comforts we have at the expense of the women who are still seeking comfort.”
Bad Feminist will make you laugh and make you cry. Everyone -man and woman- should read this book and talk about it because there is so much work to be done. Gay is still touring too-see if you can see her speak! I’m planning to do so.
I’ll end with this quote:
“I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”
All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition
Thank you so much Harper Perennial and edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.