Monday, November 3, 2014

Change requires intent and effort

I should really catch up on my reviewing because I feel like every book I've been writing reviews for I read roughly a billion years ago. At this rate December is going to be FULL of horror story reviews.

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.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 172

Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist. Harper Perennial, 2014.