Bad Feminist: Essays

Bad Feminist: Essays

by Roxane Gay

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Overview

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

New York Times Bestseller

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062282712
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 14,239
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.76(d)

About 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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Bad Feminist: Essays 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Roxane Gay constructed a collection of her essays regarding the state of feminism in the recent years and her involvement in the scene. She discusses the ways in which her busy, modern life as a black woman has been affected by the presence of feminism and addresses the ways in which she has overlooked the degradation of women in the past. She claims she is a “bad feminist,” as she allows herself to be entertained by certain areas of pop culture built on the objectification of women, but also tries to advocate for powerful women when she can, as she is a college professor and depends on the respect of her colleagues in order to thrive in her work environment. The ideas Gay expresses are very insightful and she goes into extreme detail explaining the problems that exist in society, how to solve them, and what the resulting product should be. The way she writes conversationally makes it very easy and engaging to read, and her topics are often accounts of personal experience resulting in strong rooted opinions, so the content doesn’t feel dull. The format of multiple essays bunched together is interesting as well because it keeps the pages turning and the fresh ideas flowing. Many of her essays could be used in a school curriculum as they discuss the importance of strong female figures in education and cultural representation in the media. These ideas could be important for a young mind to be exposed to in an academic setting to result in a student body that recognizes and appreciates the benefits of equal rights for women.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Roxane Gay constructed a collection of her essays regarding the state of feminism in the recent years and her involvement in the scene. She discusses the ways in which her busy, modern life as a black woman has been affected by the presence of feminism and addresses the ways in which she has overlooked the degradation of women in the past. She claims she is a “bad feminist,” as she allows herself to be entertained by certain areas of pop culture built on the objectification of women, but also tries to advocate for powerful women when she can, as she is a college professor and depends on the respect of her colleagues in order to thrive in her work environment. The ideas Gay expresses are very insightful and she goes into extreme detail explaining the problems that exist in society, how to solve them, and what the resulting product should be. The way she writes conversationally makes it very easy and engaging to read, and her topics are often accounts of personal experience resulting in strong rooted opinions, so the content doesn’t feel dull. The format of multiple essays bunched together is interesting as well because it keeps the pages turning and the fresh ideas flowing. Many of her essays could be used in a school curriculum as they discuss the importance of strong female figures in education and cultural representation in the media. These ideas could be important for a young mind to be exposed to in an academic setting to result in a student body that recognizes and appreciates the benefits of equal rights for women.
Kell More than 1 year ago
Roxane Gay’s interpretation of the idea of feminism in the real world explores how she has grown to understand the topic, and the flaws she has found in the process. Even though she considers herself to be in favor of equal rights of the sexes, she still enjoys music that shouts about degrading women because of it’s catchy tune. (Hence why she considers herself somewhat of a “Bad Feminist”) She utilizes her experience in the real world as a woman of color to further explain how her life differs from a white woman in the realm of feminism. She believes the movement has positively affected the powerful white women of society and has excluded the minorities, because those women have been accomplished and represented feminism as being more complete than it really is. Personally I don’t identify as a minority in ethnicity, therefore I had a hard time connecting to the narrator. She knew that different types of people do have different experiences in life though, and this way I got to explore through her eyes and compare it to my own. I also didn’t enjoy the fact that a lot of the connections she made between her experiences were explained through other texts and media that I haven’t read or seen. The bright side of her connections that I wasn’t aware about was that it made me want to read into those and learn more about them, but I also would rather hear her original thoughts rather than her summarizing the other texts. I enjoyed the format of the book because it was a collection of essays, which was captivating as each chapter/essay was a new topic relating to her main ideas. Some of her anecdotes were also very relatable but also were thought provoking. For example, her ideas of privilege in society, “You need to understand the extent of your privilege, the consequences of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through and experience the world in ways you may never know anything about.”(17) The idea of privilege she describes ties into feminism because she believes feminism is going to mean different things to people with different backgrounds. I believe that for the average woman, this book is a must read in order to understand more women’s frame of mind on different portions of womanhood in modern society. Modern feminism is revealed more complex than its formal definition and is analyzed by Gay’s walks through life. She knows that even though you can be a part of a movement for the good and still have flaws while trying to support her beliefs. Her writing is an excellent exploration of femininity and how feminism itself has a lot of complications in modern society and is still very prevalent today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love her style of writing and the way she tackles delicate topics about social injustice. Definitely reccomend!
10527759 More than 1 year ago
Amazing book, she brings up many valid points within feminism and minority issues that are constantly ignored. She is very observant and opinionated but I appreciate her brutal honesty because she highlights all of her flaws along the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this no matter who you are!
SarahHagaman More than 1 year ago
Like any good millennial, I wanted to jump onto the 'International Women’s Day' bandwagon; when March rolled around, I looted out “Mrs Dalloway,” and lulled myself into the rhythm of Virginia Woolf’s free indirect discourse. I felt good. I felt, like—you know. Like a good feminist. The title of this reading isn’t startling. The two works “bad” and “feminist” often appear in the same sentence. But Roxane Gay makes no apologies for using the two words together, as she pointedly cuts to the core of her book: “I’d rather be a bad feminist, than no feminist at all.” Gay delves straight into the sticky topic of feminism in her essay manifesto, “Bad Feminist”. Acerbic, insightful, conversational, and academic at once, Gay delves into race, gender, media, and political issues present in the social and intellectual American climate. Bad Feminist doesn’t read quickly. The author uses shorter essay formats, which allow the advanced reader to clip through about 4 essays in an hour. This style forces the reader to observe various topics presented by Gay; her melancholy, at times sharp, criticisms are gentled by her fundamental belief in the pursuit of happiness, and the human capacity for goodness. However, these musings remain far and few between. Gay’s exploration of the Black female experience in intellectual America requires the reader to cut straight into difficult issues, and to follow thread of deep insight. Still, the book reads much like an inner monologue. The author spares few criticisms, and the essays don’t package up nice conclusions; rather, they leave room for the reader to wrestle with the topic. A few major essay themes stood out in the book, including Gay’s discussion about body image, contemporary literature, and the call for more complex narratives of multicultural art and media. For the first topic, Gay discusses the ways in which women relate to their bodies, and the distress that comes so quickly from uncontrollable elements of the female physique. Yet the issue of rape connects to the author’s discussion of body image, causing a difficult change of pace. The book grows more personal, as Gay recounts a times where her schoolgirl body caught the eyes of some boys in her class. An episode of severely damaging group sexual assault followed, and pushed Gay even further into a complicated relationship with her body. She began to eat. Food, she reflects, allowed her to create a softer body to insulate her from inner emptiness and pain. The social and familial pressures to make her skinny culminated in a stint at fat camp: “In the first few weeks after fat camp, it was fun to feel like myself again, to feel light and somehow freed. When I returned to school, there were compliments and other expressions of appreciation for my much thinner body. That felt good too. But then I started eating again, worked even harder to make my body fill as much space as possible, tried to fill that ragged need inside of me. Very little had changed, I had not really found catharsis. Oh, how I hungered.” The feminist theories range into popular media, with discussions of literature and media, include Junot Díaz’s “This Is How You Lose Her.” Díaz has a sharp, brilliant exploration of machismo culture, and explores sexist overtones in American and Latin American culture. Following her literary analysis, Gay reveals her systematic dislike of certain popular narratives in movies. She criticizes the ubiquity of certain film
Jessica_t2 More than 1 year ago
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. 
KCormack More than 1 year ago
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.