I’m reading or rather listening to, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Bad Feminist was a really hard book to listen to the reason is it takes you on an extreme roller coaster ride. It makes you question everything you ever believed, yet you can breathe a sigh of relief when the author, Gay tells you it’s okay and she succumbs to the catchy beat of misogynistic music.
I was interested in the reading the book after, Roxane Gay was a keynote speaker at a library conference I attended in October. She was wonderful and very insightful. She read from her book of collective essays, Bad Feminist. After hearing her speak, I was like I must read her book. All I can say was my world was turned up-side-down. There was one particular essay that she read at the conference and that I listened to with the audiobook, explaining her take on the “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. I loved “The Help,” but after hearing Gay rip it apart with very legitimate and valid arguments. I started to question my love for the novel. Basically, Gay states, that a white woman in the 1960s would not have done those things like go to the black side of town sit with these women and basically become their savior and the writing was of poor quality especially with Stockett’s descriptions of black people. For instance, Abileen describes the color of her skin as dark as a cockroach, what black person would describe their skin that way. Which I am like, Gay is totally right! That would not have happened at all. My mind blown.
The ironic thing is when I discuss this with my co-workers, who are mostly white and tell them how Gay decimated “The Help”, they are all like oh yeah, the white woman saves the day not realistic at all. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that I did not read the book deeply enough. I just at the superficial level. (Mind you I read this book undergrad junior year 2009, my mind was probably more focused on school and I DON’T Re-read books).
There are other moments that Gay rocks my world. She describes the day she was gang raped at a very young age and aftermath that unfolded from there. That was extremely hard to listen to on audiobook. I appreciated the transparency she has by telling her story. In the essay“The Careless Language of Sexual Violence,” she examines the ways in which the representation of sexual violence on television, has consequences for the real-life victims. Many of times the unconsciously news outlets villainize the victims of these heinous acts.
I enjoyed listening to Bad Feminist, mainly because Gay is down-to-earth, never being preachy. However, giving valid arguments to many things going on society, that we don’t always notice. Also I like that she admits, that she is an oxymoron when it comes to the label of feminist. Self-admitting that she is bad feminist. Many of the topics she examines in her essays have made me critically think about things, such as, if I want to “label” myself a feminist. I am not sure yet, if I did it would be bad feminist.
I would give her book a 5 out of 5. Definitely a must read!