Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, published by Harper Perennial.
Read: January 2015
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay. In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
I decided in 2015 I wanted to expand my horizons, and dip my toe in the waters of non-fiction… When I was younger, “feminist” was a bad word, it was an insult, and it was something I shied away from. As I got older, and the feminist cause came to the fore once again, I began to realise that many of my beliefs, actions and opinions were aligned with feminism, and as my confidence grew as a young woman, I decided to embrace the label. It’s only now I’m beginning to read around the subject (so any other great recommendations are very welcome!), and now more than ever, I’m proud to call myself a feminist, even when I have to walk the tightrope between being active and vocal, and being “one of those women who thinks she’s as good as a man”. You’d be amazed at the jokes and jibes I’ve heard, and been on the receiving end of…
Where do I actually start with this book? Where do you begin to start with this topic? This is likely to be part book review and part word-vomit. I read this book in one day, basically in one sitting. It was compulsive reading and I just couldn’t put it down. While some of the essays struck a chord with me more than others, and while I found some more enjoyable to read than others, I saw merit in all of them and have a feeling I’ll be dipping into this book often in the future. Not only were these essays highly relatable, there were many times I found myself laughing out loud, and occasionally grimacing when it came to some of the more “difficult” parts – surprising statistics, ludicrous quotes from world-leaders, and harrowing real-life experiences.
I have come across individuals who are of the opinion that the glass-ceiling is no more – come back to me when we have more than 4% female CEOs in the Fortune 500, who argue that sexism isn’t a “thing” in the Western world – tell that to the females getting 20% less pay than their male counterparts, and who seem to think feminists are all man-hating, aggressive and overly opinionated women who refuse to shave their legs – I seriously think some people are missing the point.
This book was my introduction to feminism, officially. Sure, I’ve held certain beliefs and values, but I’ve never sought out books on the subject, partly afraid that I would stumble upon those man-hating, aggressive and overly-opinionated, non-shaving authors, who would make me question if the feminism movement is really for me. Luckily, in this case, I struck gold. Gay discusses feminism, as well as a whole host of other topics, openly, and from the point of view of a real person. A person with faults, and flaws, who makes mistakes and errors in judgement. Not from a high horse, or idealistic pedestal, that makes it impossible to live up to the “essential feminism” model (want to know what I’m talking about? Read the book!).
“It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away.”
“When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.”
“I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”
Have you read Bad Feminism? Do you have any other great recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!