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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

bad

I was supposed to see a live Q&A with Roxane Gay at the International Festival of Authors next week, but Roxane had to cancel because of an injury.

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THE BOOK
Some of the essays in Bad Feminist were originally published in different magazines, such as Salon, Jezebel and The Rumpus. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays that contain a few personal stories (some of them fun like Roxane’s worship of the Sweet Valley High series, some of them raw and intimate), but mostly delves into issues concerning diversity, privilege, politics, racial and gender discrimination and violence. As a lover of pop culture, she references frequently books, movies, TV shows, music, celebrities, sports and politics, as examples of what is still lacking in our society, and why we need to have a conversation about these subjects. I listened to the audio book of Bad Feminist which was not read by Roxane Gay.

THE GOOD
Roxane Gay’s essays are thought-provoking and make many valid points about what is missing in society and/or popular culture. She tries to balance out her criticism with humour and by sharing what she does love in pop culture or thinks are steps in the right direction. Probably my favourite discussion in the collection is when she talks about “likeable” characters in books and “likeable” women, à la the Cool Girl from Gone Girl.

THE BAD
Roxane Gay does a very good job laying out the issues and sharing stories that were sometimes so sad I sank into a depression dwelling on all the cruelties and injustices in the world. But she doesn’t offer the reader any solutions or suggestions of where to go from here. She has a lot to say about what she thinks is bad and offensive, but no balm of encouragement or inspiration.

CONCLUSION
From the start of the book, Roxane Gay emphasizes that she is a “bad feminist”, flawed and frequently conflicted. She admits to being, at times, a hypocrite and not walking her talk. I suspect she is still working it all out like the rest of us. Overall, I liked the calm, honest manner in which she presents her thoughts in Bad Feminist and tries to get the reader thinking about these issues. She may not have all the answers, but she wants to get us talking and I think that’s a good starting point.

4/5 Stars

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12 comments on “Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

  1. Stefani @ Keep It Wordy
    October 23, 2014

    She’s a kick to follow on Twitter sometimes! Looking forward to reading this one.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 24, 2014

      Roxane definitely has a great sense of humour. I really enjoyed the book. It was a good overview of the issues.

      Like

  2. kmn04books
    October 24, 2014

    As someone who has been interested in feminist theory/gender relations for a while, I’d agree with you that Gay doesn’t quite take it far enough to suggest any solutions to the problems she’s seeing. I think this would be a great book for those just starting to think about these issues, but for me, I really wanted her to go just that extra step more. Great review!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 24, 2014

      It was pretty clear she’s still trying to figure things out. She sounded very frustrated with not only the issues, but with herself. Maybe she will write another book and take things further then.

      Like

  3. Brian Joseph
    October 24, 2014

    I was thinking about reading this. Feminism and Feminists thought, has always been of interest to me, particularly lately.

    It sounds like Roxane Gay is struggling to fit a thought system into real life practice. Such has always difficult when the thought system runs very counter to the prevailing culture.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 24, 2014

      Very good point. I think she does have difficulty trying to reconcile her feelings and beliefs when up against the status quo and the pop culture she adores so much.

      Like

  4. Amber O (AmberBug)
    October 24, 2014

    In the middle of this now. I’d be super excited to see her in person. I hope you get the chance sometime in the future.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 24, 2014

      Oh, can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. She is planning to reschedule her visit, but no idea when that will happen.

      Like

  5. Naomi
    October 24, 2014

    So disappointing that she couldn’t make it to the Festival. The essays sound interesting! Nice review. I’ve not heard before that she doesn’t offer solutions or encouragement for the future. Maybe that will be in her next book!

    Like

  6. I agree with you on the bad parts of this book. I really enjoyed a lot of it, but it just got to be so much after awhile, with no real sense of what to do to get better. That’s important, but also makes the book kind of hard to read.

    Like

  7. DoingDewey
    November 5, 2014

    This sounds like a really interesting selection of essays, but it’s too bad the author doesn’t make any suggestions about what can be done differently. I hate reading sad books, so I appreciate it when an author can write about tough topics in a light way or at least temper the depressing bits with some optimism for the future.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      November 6, 2014

      The things Roxane discussed made me sad because there seems to be so much cruelty and injustice in the world. I really appreciate that she is talking about these tough topics so that we don’t turn away and ignore them just because it’s painful.

      Like

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