04 August 2014

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Summary from Goodreads:
A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

“Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

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.

Caveat: I follow Roxane Gay on Twitter, have done so waaay before I read Bad Feminist so I am happily attuned to the way she goes about things.  She's pretty awesome.

So, the glue that holds Bad Feminist together is the actual title essay.  In it, she basically says, "Look, when we put someone on a pedestal as the epitome of feminism and they fuck up in some way, we then shame the hell out of them, remove them from the pedetal, and find someone else to be the ideal.  Which is stupid.  We all screw up.  We should try to be better."  (That's all my paraphrasing.  Roxane says it much better)  Which is true - everyone can, and should be a feminist, no matter that someone might like pink high heels, or have a secret stash of Chris Brown CDs, or just really, really like to wear a frilly apron and cook a whole lot. (alert: if you follow Roxane for any length of time she lurrrrrves Ina Garten on the Food Network.  Hardcore.)  And just because you like those things doesn't mean that you also shouldn't be respected for who you are and given a fair shake.  She also writes so well about race and culture - she brought up aspects of The Help that I hadn't thought about - and has a fantastic essay about being a person of color in academia.

Some of the essays get extremely self-referential - there's one about playing competitive Scrabble, which I didn't even know was a thing - but so well-written.  Get a copy and settle in to read.

Now, where can I get a Bad Feminist pin?

Dear FTC: I received a digital advance copy of this book from the publisher.

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