Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
When Bad Feminist first came out, it made the rounds amongst my grad student feminist friends, who all raved about it. I’d never read anything by Roxane Gay until her magical review of Magic Mike XXL (one of my favorite movies last summer), and I LOVED IT. Read it for yourself if you need evidence that you would enjoy Roxane Gay. You will. She’s amazing, and her writerly voice is so unique.
Bad Feminist has a fairly simple premise, but it reveals the complicated nature around feminism. Gay calls herself a “bad feminist,” which is a way to acknowledge the very human nature around feminism, especially for people who have bashed it for not being perfect. There are essays on Gay herself, many pop culture phenomena, and the nature of activism regarding people of color. That part was very informative and sobering. Gay’s discussion of pop culture in relation to her history is fascinating, and at times, absolutely crushing. I remember sitting in my mechanic’s waiting room while my car’s oil got changed, reading her essay on The Hunger Games and her personal trauma, wanting desperately to cry. I remember cheering her scathing indictment of The Help, because, good lord, I couldn’t even finish that book in my blind rage. And I very much disagreed with her on Orange Is The New Black (the show). But that’s okay, because we’re all different.
While this is not as hilarious as people have billed it to be, it’s still very good. Gay is an excellent writer with a terrific turn-of-phrase, and an energetic engagement with pop culture. I need to read her novel now.