Bad Feminist

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a brilliant writer, and I’m glad to see this book with its hot pink title on the front tables in bookstores, where perhaps people who think they don’t need feminism* might see it. Gay is razor smart and genuine; she has a witty and light-handed writing style, even when digging into complicated issues.

She writes some simple but important bits about privilege, like: “Surrendering to the acceptance of privilege is difficult, but it is really all that is expected. What I remind myself, regularly, is this: the acknowledgment of my privilege is not a denial of the ways I have been and am marginalized, the ways I have suffered.”

And she talks about feminism’s bad reputation: “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.”

Plus she leaves room to tell stories of her triumphs (and defeats) in competitive Scrabble.

This collection is unfortunately inconsistent — there were essays where I wished Gay had gone further or deeper, though many in this book were originally written for websites and were never meant to be in-depth. Those not familiar with her pop culture references may not fully appreciate those parts. Honestly for the first third of the book I felt disappointed, but this feeling dissipated as I progressed. All together these essays create an impressive whole.

Incredibly Roxane Gay published two well-received books last year; her novel An Untamed State is on my list for when I’m ready for some heartbreaking fiction.

*This the satirical twitter version of an actual website.