Book Review: “Bad Feminist: Essays,” by Roxane Gay

How often do you read a collection of essays?  For me, not very often.  Well, except for the usual school assignments, which are bound to contain an essay or two.  Over the past two weeks or so, I have been reading Bad Feminist and it is great!

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Bad Feminist was written by Roxane Gay and is a collection of her essays.  It was published in New York City by Harper Perennial on August 5th, 2014.  I believe I first heard about this book through the grapevine and later saw that one of my friends had purchased it.  I had also happened to come across it at Book People, but I still didn’t pick it up for some reason.  I finally received it as a birthday present way back in January and now, 4 months later, I have finally read it.

Bad Feminist is broken up into sections: Introduction; Me; Gender & Sexuality; Race & Entertainment; Politics, Gender, & Race; and Back to Me.  Within each of these sections are a collection of essays ranging from different topics including: the practically nonexistent representation of black people in television beyond BET, privilege, “How to Be Friends with Another Woman,” sexual violence, culture and social class, female authors within a male-centered literary world, and Tyler Perry.  Out of all of the essays, my favorite was probably the one entitled, “Girls, Girls, Girls.”

If you guessed it was about the HBO series Girls, then you guess correctly!  Now, I have very recently started getting into this series (I’m only half way through season two, so no spoilers!) and I loved this essay because it directed my attention to things I hadn’t noticed before: the lack of representation of minority races and the “privileged existence” that this show is putting on display.  Now while some people may think that a critique of one’s favorite HBO show would either a) make me dislike the show itself or b)make me dislike the book.  In fact, this essay did neither; I appreciate the view that Roxane Gay gave me.  She showed me little aspects of which I probably wouldn’t have spent the effort to even notice.  Gay brings an alternate viewpoint to this dialogue that Girls creates and it’s great!  “Girls, Girls, Girls” is very well written and brings up great points of the failings and successes of the show, which is precisely what Gay does in nearly all of the other essays.

Gay brings a valuable set of eyes to the discussion of the culture and media within America.  If it weren’t for reading this book, I would probably have had a lot less insight on different aspects of my daily life;  I would continue to be naive, but that is not what life is about–life is about learning and using your knowledge to better the world for future generations.  Thankfully, Roxane Gay wrote Bad Feminist and I now feel as if I have grown some.  I suggest you read it and do some thinking and introspection, too.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this definition:

Feminists: “…women who don’t want to be treated like shit” -Su in

-Su in DIY Feminism (found in Bad Feminism)

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