by Roxane Gay
Publisher: Audible Studio
Release Date: December 2015
Genre: Non-Fiction; Essays
Length: 11 hrs 3 mins
Find It: Audible
“Pink is my favourite colour. I used to say my favourite colour 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 colour (The Help) while also taking listeners 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 sincere 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.
Let me just say this review is a year late, literally. I can’t remember why I got stuck putting my thoughts together ‘cos when I finished this book, I was pumped!
There really isn’t anything more Roxane Gay can do to win me over at this point. In this book, which is part memoir, Roxane Gay talks about everything from racism to sexism in the workplace, privilege, her struggles with her weight and how the trauma of her rape has shaped her life and how she continues to deal with it. It’s a whole lot.
When Roxane talks about feminism, I want to stand on a table and scream for joy. Now, you have to be familiar with my personality to get why that is a major deal. I get irritated with the wave of “Twitter feminism” that seems to be the rage today. Don’t get me wrong, many people get it right but many more are obsessed with policing women (and men) on the “correct” way to be feminist.
I mean, talk about missing the entire point. If you find yourself judging a woman’s choice to wear whatever and live whatever lifestyle she desires even if it is contrary to everything you believe a modern woman should be, you may need to hit the reset button.
Acknowledge Your Privilege
This book has shaped my perception of many things like language and privilege. Privilege… what a sweet word to throw at all the injustices in the world, right? While you may be tempted to accuse others of benefiting from whatever privilege, have you acknowledged yours?
A great point Roxane Gay makes in this book is that we all have some form of privilege. I’ve never had to worry about where my next meal would come from or had a shortage of people to turn to if I need help. I am a university graduate and have always had tools available to me to make more of myself (whether I realise it or not is my personal problem). The point is, I have some level of privilege over many people and the inability to recognise and acknowledge your own privilege is problematic.
Another thing that stuck with me was Roxane Gay’s review of “Lean In”. As you’re probably aware, “Lean In” is acclaimed as the ultimate guide for the working woman and while I have never read it, I had worried about how relevant it would be to me. A reservation Roxane Gay also shares apparently.
According to her, Sheryl Sandberg’s solution to women getting further in the workplace (i.e. Lean In) may be overly simplistic when taken into context for women without the same privileges as the author’s. Which is why I am generally wary of “self-help” or “guidebooks” or even of picking mentors.
It’s difficult to connect with people who won’t acknowledge the fact that they have a leg up over the average person. I don’t think this takes away from the strength of their story or achievements but willfully ignoring or leaving out these facts puts unreasonable pressure on people.
This book is long, so I’ll advise you speed it up just a bit “cos you will definitely get exhausted. The narrator was fine for a book of essays, it’s not exactly the most dramatic thing to narrate ya know.
I want to build a shelf and create a special mantle for this book. Of course, I probably won’t agree with Roxane Gay on everything but this is the beginning of a journey.
I would recommend this to anyone who thinks they have a clue or needs a clue on the subject of feminism.