Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book Review: BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a feminist. She’s just not sure how good of one she is. After all, she reads Vogue magazine (not ironically), doesn’t know how to fix her own car (and has little desire to learn how), and her favorite color is pink.

This essay collection uses contemporary culture to comment on gender, race, and politics. Gay examines THE HUNGER GAMES, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, and “Blurred Lines”; talks about her expertise as a competitive Scrabble player; and takes on issues like Trayvon Martin’s death and Wendy Davis’s filibuster to block an anti-abortion bill in the Senate. She writes with wisdom and humor, and she openly admits her own shortcomings. She insists she is still learning as well.

The public’s view of feminism is evolving, and this book is a fantastic example. The essay topics vary, which means all readers finds something to catch their eye. At times, I was uncomfortable when my own ignorance was pointed out. Gay dismantles the movie THE HELP, a movie I saw (and relatively enjoyed) in theaters. Seeing it through the lens she holds up, however, made me look at it (particularly the portrayal of the black women) differently.

Reading BAD FEMINIST helped me solidify my opinions on certain issues. It made me feel intelligent. It helped me learn. But this is not a how-to guide containing ten easy steps to becoming a feminist. It’s a book about one woman, her life, and how her experiences have shaped her worldview. As she says in her introduction: “These essays…are, like feminism, flawed, but they come from a genuine place. I am just one woman trying to make sense of this world we live in.” 

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