Oops, I Accidentally Waited Way Too Long to Read “Bad Feminist”

Hi I just finished book #64 of the year and I am extremely excited about it. I’m also mad at myself for waiting this long to read it, but alas. Better late than never. I read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and I have never wanted to hang out with an author more than I want to hang out with Roxane Gay right now.

This book was smart and infuriating and sad and hilarious and everything that is good and important in one book. Feminism shouldn’t be a controversial topic but it is, and Gay is a true genius at explaining and discussing its complexity in such interesting ways.

So this book is a series of essays about a very wide variety of things both closely and vaguely related to feminism. The premise of this collection is to highlight, discuss, and ultimately embrace the “bad” element in Gay’s being a feminist.

She discusses popular culture, being a minority, the way that minorities are treated in America, the difficulties of being a minority and a woman, movies, television, racism, journalism, new media, and Scrabble, among other things. It was so good, I found myself rereading chapters for the sake of taking them in more fully.

And the greatest part was her openness. She makes bold statements and is transparent in her beliefs but also transparent in her contradictions, her humanness, and her shortcomings. Gay isn’t telling anyone how to live their life, she’s simply writing about things that happen and her reaction to them. It doesn’t read like an aggressive one-way-to-do-this-feminism-thing-right manifesto, but rather an incredibly smart and talented writer including the readers in her intelligent and critical thoughts about life.

I felt embarrassed that some of the topics she wrote about came as revelations to me, like her take on 12 Years a Slave, for example. Her writing style is so straightforward that it kind of all seems like a no-brainer after you read what she has to say.

I’m being vague because I really can’t do this book justice, but I strongly recommend everyone read it. It raises important questions about woman, popular culture, and politics. But it’s also poignant in Gay’s reflecting on her life, the beginnings of her teaching career, her nostalgia for a childhood world so perfect it could never exist.

It’s ironic that Gay calls herself a “bad” feminist, because this book just made her my feminist hero. ◊

I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.”

– page xii

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