Anyway, remember how awhile ago how people were reading and raving about Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and how having a review around that time would have been really relevant? Yeah, I'm just getting to it now.
I'm not sure when I first heard about Roxane Gay's collection of essays, but I know a bunch of people with good taste were reading it and saying good things about it so at some point I saw a copy on sale at my local bookstore and decided I must have it. It was a good call.
As I pretty much literally just said, Bad Feminist is a collection of essays. Most of them deal with feminism. Actually, I guess all of them deal with it in varying degrees, some more overtly than others. Some are about how she's a bad feminist because she falls short of certain feminist values, others are about feminism and race, my favorite is about Gay's love of Scrabble. There are a bunch of pop culture references (Hunger Games, Gone Girl, Django Unchained) that I'm sure are going to date the book in the future but for now I enjoyed. The pop culture reference make difficult topics more accessible.
The book is split into 5 sections:
Me, which, duh, focuses on her with essays like "Typical First Year Professor" and "To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically" (the Scrabble essay)
Gender & Sexuality, which is the longest section and has pieces like "How To Be Friends With Another Woman" and "Blurred Lines, Indeed"
Race & Entertainment, which has "The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other Quaint Remembrances of 1960s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help" and "The Morality of Tyler Perry"
Politics, Gender, & Race with "The Politics of Respectability" and "A Tale of Two Profiles"
and finally Back to Me with Bad Feminist, Takes 1 & 2
She's tackling some serious topics, and while the essays aren't necessarily light-hearted (at least not all of them) they don't feel like you're being lectured to, or worse yelled at. Things don't feel hopeless and those pop culture references give you a way to think about and work with these ideas and a language that is easy to understand.
To the title. She calls herself a "bad feminist" saying:
I openly embrace the label of bad feminist. I do so because I am flawed and human. I am not terribly well versed in feminist history. I am not as well read in key feminist texts as I would like to be. I have certain...interests and personality traits and opinions that may not fall in line with mainstream feminism, but I am still a feminist. I cannot tell you how freeing it has been to accept this about myself.Pretty much she is a feminist, if not a "Professional Feminist." So you know, she's an actual feminist instead of some idea of what one should be or has to be. Love it.
I wish I had this as an ebook (or I guess had it as well as an ebook) so I would have a bunch of quotes already highlighted to share with you. You should probably just read this.
Title quote from page 172
Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist. Harper Perennial, 2014.