Published by Harper Collins on 8/5/2014
Buy from IndieBound
I started reading Bad Feminist the day the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case was announced. I was still disillusioned and too upset to be angry with the rest of the internet, so I turned to Roxane Gay. I wasn’t looking for answers or a pat on the back or even a reason to feel rage, I just wanted solidarity.
The collection of essays starts on a personal note, including a fantastic discussion on privilege and notes on life as a first year professor. Bad Feminist is then broken into sections about gender and sexuality, race and entertainment and politics, gender and race. In each section, Gay journeys through important, timely topics with great insight and smart pop culture parallels. For the bookish, there is a spot on piece about the importance of unlikable female characters, written after the Publisher’s Weekly uproar surrounding The Woman Upstairs, that manages to touch on Sweet Valley High, Lolita and feminism in the same breath.
In fact, the essay was one I had read before, which is one of my only complaints. Those who have been following Gay’s work will notice several familiar pieces throughout Bad Feminist, though many are cast in a new light when organized thematically with the rest of her writing. Sadly, in terms of gender and politics, particularly in light of the Hobby Lobby decision, the themes also highlight the fight that still remains.
“It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly. These are just songs. They are just jokes. It’s just a hug. They’re just breasts. Smile, you’re beautiful. Can’t a man pay you a compliment?”
It is hard not to feel humorless, but Bad Feminist offers humor and wiggle room. While Women Against Feminism misunderstand a movement they see as divisive, Roxane Gay reminds us of its purpose and necessity.
If you’re looking for other great feminist-minded reads, tomorrow I’ll be sharing a few upcoming titles that can keep your Bad Feminist journey going!
More Blogger Reviews of Bad Feminist