bad feminist roxane gay

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist by Roxane GayBad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Published by Harper Collins on 8/5/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
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

Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness

Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

  • Thanks for this review; Bad Feminist is one of my most highly anticipated novels this month. I’m looking forward to checking out your other recommendations too!

  • Beautiful post! I highlighted the same quote and seemed to highlight full paragraphs throughout this book. A very important read during this time for women. Looking forward to your books recs!

  • Kerry M

    Lovely review! Mine will go up later this week with lots of gushing.

    Looking forward to your recs for follow-up reading tomorrow.

  • Sam_TinyLibrary

    I am so excited to read this book!

  • I’ve never read any Roxane Gay, but am really excited about this one. I’m so glad you posted about it! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy :)

  • I’m so excited to give this one a try soon. Gay is smart and brash and thoughtful and all the things I adore wrapped up into one.

  • This sounds so fantastic. I was on the fence for a while, but now I’m feeling like it’s a must read!!

    • I think if you’re a little worried maybe skipping around in the book or reading in pieces might be best, but I’d definitely recommend at least a library copy!

  • I love Roxane Gay. I was just reading a post she made on Tumblr about this ridiculous argument she had with a store clerk at Best Buy over her receipt, and it was a sad and frustrating and ridiculous story. She’s a really good writer, and I love her range of references — mentioning Lolita and Sweet Valley High in the same essay is all the stuff I love about her.

    • I saw that whole Best Buy scene unfold on Twitter for her and it was infuriating. She’s a fantastic writer and I really hope this year brings her all the attention she deserves.

  • It seems Gay is taking over the internet at the moment. Good for her. Ba Feminist doesn’t come out until next month in the Uk, but i will be picking up a copy then.

  • crimeworm

    Updating myself on the Hobby Lobby case, I feel grateful to live in the UK, with free healthcare for all, so crazy fundamentalists aren’t in a position to deny anything.

    • It’s almost unbelievable, until you realize how often it happens here. I’m glad we have women like Ginsberg speaking out for us and just keep hoping things will shift.

  • Can we just go ahead and give Roxane Gay all the awards? Her writing is so incredible, and it’s great to see her getting the attention she deserves. Loved this book! Great review :)

  • Words for Worms

    Well. I clearly need to read this.

  • I need to get my hands on this asap. As you say, for nothing else but the solidarity. I’m not familiar with any of Gay’s work so it looks like there are no obstacles to enjoying this thoroughly!

    • She’s absolutely wonderful. If you like this (and are okay with tough reads), I’d absolutely recommend her novel, too. An Untamed State is still the best book I’ve read this year.

  • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the quote you chose.

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