Bad Feminist: Essays [NOOK Book]


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Bad Feminist: Essays

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One of our most indispensable writers . . . on everything that matters

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 06/30/2014
This trenchant collection assembles previously published essays and new work by cultural critic and novelist Gay (An Untamed State). Even though she loves pink, feels nostalgic about the Sweet Valley High series, and lets degrading rap lyrics blast from her car stereo, Gay is passionately committed to feminist issues, such as equal opportunity and pay and reproductive freedom. Writing about race, politics, gender, feminism, privilege, and popular media, she highlights how deeply misogyny is embedded in our culture, the careless language used to discuss sexual violence (seen in news reports of sexual assault), Hollywood’s tokenistic treatment of race, the trivialization of literature written by women, and the many ways American society fails women and African-Americans. Gay bemoans that fact that role models like Bill Cosby and Don Lemon urge African-Americans to act like ideal citizens while glossing over institutional problems in the education, social welfare, and justice system that exacerbate racism and poverty. Although Gay is aware of her privilege as a middle-class Haitian-American, she doesn’t refrain from advising inner-city students to have higher expectations. Whatever her topic, Gay’s provocative essays stand out for their bravery, wit, and emotional honesty. Agent: Maria Massie, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Aug.)
Book Riot
“Pre-order it, put it on the library hold list, whatever. Just get ready to read it and quote it and share it and be challenged by it.”
Sheila Heti
“Roxane Gay is so great at weaving the intimate and personal with what is most bewildering and upsetting at this moment in culture. She is always looking, always thinking, always passionate, always careful, always right there.”
Ayelet Waldman
“With prodigious bravery and eviscerating humor, Roxane Gay takes on culture and politics in Bad Feminist--and gets it right, time and time again. We should all be lucky enough to be such a bad feminist.”
Elizabeth McCracken
“There are writers who can show you the excellence of their brains and writers who show you the depths of their souls: I don’t know any writer who does both at the same time as brilliantly as Roxane Gay.”
Pam Houston author of Contents May Have Shifted
“Praise Roxane Gay for her big-hearted self-examining intelligence, for her inclusive and forgiving stance, for her courage and determination . . . for saying out loud the things we were thinking, for guiding us back to ourselves and returning to us what was ours all along.”
Ron Charles
“A strikingly fresh cultural critic.”
Time Out New York
“Alternately friendly and provocative, wry and serious, her takes on everything from Girls to Fifty Shades of Grey help to recontextualize what feminism is--and what it can be.”
Pam Houston
“Praise Roxane Gay for her big-hearted self-examining intelligence, for her inclusive and forgiving stance, for her courage and determination . . . for saying out loud the things we were thinking, for guiding us back to ourselves and returning to us what was ours all along.”
Melissa Harris-Perry
“She had me at Sweet Valley High. Gay playfully crosses the borders between pop culture consumer and critic, between serious academic and lighthearted sister-girl, between despair and optimism, between good and bad. . . . How can you help but love her?”
"20 New Nonfiction Books That Will Make You Smarter
“As Bad Feminist proves, Gay is a necessary and brave voice when it comes to figuring out all the crazy mixed messages in our mixed-up world.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Gay writes with probing intelligence about pop-culture topics from the morality of Tyler Perry to how much the Sweet Valley High books mattered to her.”
Jennifer Weiner's 10 best beach reads
“Gay’s essays are consistently smart and provocative. . . . Her essay collection will give you dinner-party conversation through September.”
O: the Oprah Magazine
“One of our sharpest new culture critics plants her flag in topics ranging from trigger warnings to Orange is the New Black in this timely collection of essays.”
Vanity Fair
Bad Feminist collects the very good essays of ‘It girl’ culture critic Roxane Gay.”
The L Magazine
“A collection of sharp, Sontag-ianly searing pieces on everything from Orange Is the New Black to likability in fiction to abortion legislation. . . . Her pieces manage to be at once conversational and full of pithy aphorisms.”
Marie Claire
“Roxane Gay applies her discerning eye to everything from Paula Deen to The Bachelor.”
Nylon Magazine
“Gay is poised to hit the big time.”
"Smart beach-read alert" Self
“Toss Roxane Gay’s collection of witty, thoughtful essays, Bad Feminist into your tote bag. With musings on everything from Sweet Valley High to the color pink, Gay explores the idea of being a feminist, even when you’re full of contradictions.”
“Roxane Gay is the gift that keeps on giving. . . . An entertaining and thought-provoking essay collection.”
Bad Feminist places pop culture under her sharp, often hilarious, always insightful microscope.”
Erika Schickel
“As a feminist who has been around a while I have a message for these girls: it’s okay — you can skip the rigors of Betty Friedan and Andrea Dworkin and go straight to Roxane Gay, where feminism is not just friendly, but more relevant than ever.”
“What’s so special about this collection is its accessibility - Gay is nothing short of a critical genius, yet every essay is approachable and open while still being thorough. Her writing is rare, and at that, not to be missed.”
“I’m pretty sure Gay is incapable of writing anything boring. . . . Even better: It’s an essay collection, so you can parse it out, maybe save a couple for days when the Internet is particularly infuriating.”
"8 Books You Need to Read This August" Vulture
“With trenchant thoughts on Sweet Valley High, The Help, abortion, and Chris Brown, Gay isn’t really a bad feminist, just an uncommonly entertaining one.”
“A meaty volume of personal essays and criticism from one of the great storytellers and smartest cultural observers out there. . . . Gay is as critical and as she is admiring. That balance is what actually makes these essays so enjoyable and honest.”
Bad Feminist is a broad, compelling book. . . . It’s a book that feels like it needed to be out in the world . . . a book that feels vital, alive, and engaged with the world, and we need more writers as passionate as Roxane Gay.”
Shelf Awareness
“The book is powerful, and its winsomeness is due entirely to Gay’s fearless, inclusive and accessible prose.”
“Gay’s writing is thoughtful and funny, compassionate and bold, and she’s just as likely to discuss Sweet Valley High as Django Unchained or Judith Butler.”
“Arresting and sensitive. . . . An author who filters every observation through her deep sense of the world as fractured, beautiful, and complex.”
Huffington Post
“Gay’s essays expertly weld her personal experiences with broader gender trends occurring politically and in popular culture.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“What makes Bad Feminist such a good read isn’t only Gay’s ability to deftly weave razor-sharp pop cultural analysis and criticism with a voice that is both intimate and relatable. It’s that she’s incapable of blindly accepting any kind of orthodoxy.”
“Roxane Gay is the brilliant girl-next-door: your best friend and your sharpest critic. . . . She is by turns provocative, chilling, hilarious; she is also required reading.”
Harper's Bazaar
“An assortment of comical, yet astute essays that touch on Gay’s personal evolution as a woman, popular culture throughout the recent past, and the state of feminism today.”
Boston Globe
“Fascinating. . . . An important and pioneering contemporary writer . . . Readers will immediately understand the appeal of Gay’s intimate and down-to-earth voice. . . . An important contribution to the complicated terrain of gender politics.”
Washington Post
“Blunt and funny. . . . [Gay acknowledges] ‘I am a mass of contradictions.’ For Gay, though, these contradictions are less a condition to be remedied than a source of greater strength.”
Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“A prolific and exceptionally insightful writer. . . . Bad Feminist doesn’t show us how Gay should be, but something much better: how Roxane Gay actually is. . . . Gay unquestionably succeeds at leading us in her way.”
“I know there are still four and a half months left, but I’m calling it now: 2014 is the year of Roxane Gay. I just devoured her book, Bad Feminist . . . Amazing.”
Chicago Tribune
“A thoughtful and often hilarious new collection of essays.”
“”[Gay’s] energetic and thought-provoking first essay collection will become as widely read as other generation-defining works, like Nora Ephron’s Crazy Salad and Joan Morgan’s When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost.”
“Roxane Gay delivers sermons that read like easy conversations. Bad Feminist is an important collection of prose—prose that matters to those still trying to find their voice.”
“Honest and warm. She takes a close, scathing look at modern music and film. . . . I believe her essay collection will open a lot of eyes and inspire women of all ages to stand and speak up.”
Sacramento News Review
“Above all, Gay disabuses the stereotype of a humorless feminist, writing in a voice that’s fresh, funny and always accessible.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Feisty, whip-smart essays on gender, sexuality, and race.”
Associated Press Staff
“Roxane Gay may call herself a bad feminist but she is a badass writer. . . . Reading Bad Feminist is like having a fascinating (one-way) conversation with an extremely smart, well-read, funny and thoughtful party guest. Here’s hoping we have another encounter soon.”
New York Magazine
“Read Bad Feminist to feel good about reading Vogue.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“As a culture critic, Gay has X-ray eyes. Her writing is smart and trenchant . . . She’s disarming and one of us, only smarter. She has a tumblr and she writes about Internet dating. We love her, you know?”
Miami Herald
“Roxane Gay offers an unique (and often biting) perspective on pop culture.”
Boston Review
“Gay offers a complex and multifarious feminism to answer the movement’s ongoing PR issues, its flaws and its failures. . . . Bad Feminist surveys culture and politics from the perspective of one of the most astute critics writing today.”
“Rip-roaringly funny and insightful essays.”
“Roxane Gay and her new book Bad Feminist are here to save us all. . . . It’s a swift read with some serious substance. . . . GET TO KNOW HER ALREADY.”
Indianapolis Business Journal
“Gay’s writing is as accessible as it is sharp. . . . In the volume of essays, Gay mixes the personal, the political and the pop cultural with unashamed acknowledgement that the three are interrelated and often inseparable.”
San Antonio Express-News
Bad Feminist is often LOL funny but continuously ruthless.”
“Gay’s insightful exploration of this topic makes readers worry less about their occasional shortcomings and more comfortable with being human.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“One of our sharpest new culture critics plants her flag in topics ranging from trigger warnings to Orange is the New Black in this timely collection of essays.”
Bitch Magazine
“Entertaining and enlightening. . . . Bad Feminist is an outtake of her wisdom, and we would all do well to take heed.”
The Root
“There has never been a book quite like Bad Feminist—a sometimes funny, sometimes serious pop-culture-literary-nonfiction-social-commentary hybrid written by a black woman in America.”
“[A] touching and crucial essay collection. . . . If you’re interested in critical thinking about culture, this book is a must.”
Best Books of 2014 NPR
“It’s no surprise that Roxane Gay - author, essayist and sharp observer of everything in pop culture we’re supposed to be too cool to like - has written such a winning book. . . . Perfectly imperfect, Gay is an unforgettable voice, coming at just the right time.”
"The Best Books to Give This Holiday Season: A Gawker
“Gay, who has become one of our most provocative essayists, leaves nothing off the table in her debut collection . . . Taken in whole, Bad Feminist is a brave affirmation of selfhood: I am a woman, this is my story, and there is power in its telling.”
"28 Life-Changing Books Every Woman Should Read" Cosmopolitan
“Roxane Gay’s ability to write so clearly about complex issues is truly impressive. Her essays about feminism, race, and class are hilarious, moving, and yes, educational, but never in a way that feels tired or boring.”
Tanvi Misra
“[Gay is] hilarious. But she also confronts more difficult issues of race, sexual assault, body image, and the immigrant experience. She makes herself vulnerable and it’s refreshing.”
Celeste Ng
“Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist hardly needs more praise, but no other book speaks more eloquently, or more directly, about today’s most crucial issues. . . . Gay’s essays are intimate and accessible, but broad in scope and deep in insight.”
Sami Main Buzzfeed
“If you’re in the mood to read wonderful, thought-provoking essays that feel like they’re written by your best friend, check out Bad Feminist. . . . Gay puts you at ease as she shakes the foundations of what you believe.”
Library Journal
Popular and prolific essayist and novelist Gay (An Untamed State) reflects on feminism, politics, and popular culture. (LJ 9/1/14)
Kirkus Reviews
Essayist, novelist and pop-culture guru Gay (An Untamed State, 2014, etc.) sounds off on the frustrating complexities of gender and race in pop culture and society as a whole.In this diverse collection of short essays, the author launches her critical salvos at seemingly countless waves of pop-cultural cannon fodder. Although the title can be somewhat misleading—she’s more of an inconsistent or conflicted feminist—the author does her best to make up for any feminist flaws by addressing, for instance, the disturbing language bandied about carelessly in what she calls “rape culture” in society—and by Gay’s measure, this is a culture in which even the statelyNew York Timesis complicit. However, she makes weak attempts at coming to terms with her ambivalence toward the sort of violent female empowerment depicted in such movies asThe Hunger Games. Gay explores the reasons for her uneasiness with the term “women’s fiction” and delivers some not-very-convincing attempts to sort out what drives her to both respect and loathe a femalecentric TV show like Lena Dunham’sGirls. Although generally well-written, some of these gender-studies essays come off as preachy and dull as a public service announcement—especially the piece about her endless self-questioning of her love-hate relationship with the tacky female-submission fantasies inFifty Shades of Grey. Yet when it comes to race-related matters (in the section "Race and Entertainment"), Gay’s writing is much more impassioned and persuasive. Whether critiquing problematic pandering tropes in Tyler Perry’s movies or the heavy-handed and often irresponsible way race is dealt with in movies likeThe Help,12 Years a SlaveorDjango Unchained, Gay relentlessly picks apart mainstream depictions of the black experience on-screen and rightfully laments that “all too often critical acclaim for black films is built upon the altar of black suffering or subjugation.”An occasionally brilliant, hit-or-miss grab bag of pop-culture criticism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062282729
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/5/2014
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 17,631
  • File size: 397 KB

Meet the Author

Roxane Gay is the author of the novel An Untamed State and the story collection Ayiti. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, Best American Short Stories, and the New York Times Book Review.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2015

    A beautiful book with some beautiful ideas.

    Gay will make you mad when you read this book. She will annoy you, she will fascinate you, but she will not lie to you. She is perfectly honest about herself, gendered identities, race, and culture. This isn't a man-hating book, it's a female-loving book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2014

    Great read

    Thoroughly enjoying this take on feminism that offers a way to live and think about feminism without cutting oneself off from the flawed world - thought provoking, reasonable, honest, and hopeful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2015

    As a black queer femme of color, I was incredibly excited to dis

    As a black queer femme of color, I was incredibly excited to discover Bad Feminist. I ran to check out at Barnes and Nobles and opened it up as soon as I got home. The Introduction is incredibly strong, she lightly touches gender and sexuality, race amongst other topics. Going into the book I found myself uncontrollably bored and full of disappointment. Roxane has an entire dreadful chapter where she talks about Scrabble, this chapter literally gave me a headache, it frustrated me that anyone would take up so much space with this chapter, it was boring, long and pointless. I continued reading and I appreciated her talking about shows like girls that don’t represent black women on television, but then it felt like it almost ended from there. Roxane’s book felt like an entire book review of other books, it felt like she didn’t really have her own opinion on feminism in this book and we had to go through her dragged out tiring journey while she tried to figure it out. I also don’t understand why a Haitian author who talks about not being represented in the media and entertainment and books would decide to mostly talk about books that had white characters and white authors. The more I read this book the less I could find myself in it, Roxane saddened me because she reminded me that even when a black person makes it they must target a white audience in a huge way, it was so awful. Her privilege and cluelessness on black America showed through the entire book. It felt pretentious and boring, what a combo. Some parts were humorous but for the most part it felt like things we already know, things we could find on tumblr feminism or in a facebook group. It also showed that she has no clue on what is actually happening in the real world, I live in NYC and the women of color feminist community is incredibly powerful and strong, she had so many greater things she could of talked about when it came to being a black feminist, or positive things in general about black people but she could only point out our oppression. HOW ORIGINAL. Talk about the movements we make, the spaces we have created for young women and feminist, the programs we have, write about Toni Morrison  and Gloria Naylor , but instead you chose to write about Sweet Valley High.   This was a waste of a powerful opportunity, it is awful. This book blows, I really hope it does not fall into the hands of a young brown girl trying to find herself, because she certainly won’t find it in this book. 

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  • Posted February 2, 2015

    Great book for media nerds; African American scholars too

    I enjoyed this book. I love her balanced approach and her ability to navigate between the critical analysis and the popular appeal of various pieces of media. I knew I'd found a kindred spirit when she railed Tyler Perry's work and representation of African American women, while acknowledging the flop of The Peeples despite it's appeal. The text was a little heavy in the middle, and at other times, like when the author shared her personal story. It was a powerful thing to do; made me hold my own daughters a little tighter. I highly recommend, especially for media scholars, African American scholars, and women's studies peeps.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014


    Everyone should read this no matter who you are!

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    Posted October 26, 2014

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    Posted January 24, 2015

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    Posted November 16, 2014

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