Book Review: Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, Or, How Perfection is (Obviously) Impossible

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I'm not usually a fan of 'collections', whether of short stories, poems, or essays. The majority of the time I find myself getting bored dredging through the less-than-interesting items in order to find the few diamonds in the rough, but Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist was, of course, an exception. 

Gay is many things. She's a writer, she's a professor, she's a blogger, she's an editor, she is Haitian American, she is a competitive Scrabble player, she is queer, she is a feminist. Bad Feminist is a celebration of being a human and being a feminist, even if you don't abide by the 'guidelines' many people see as being the one true path to being a feminist. She talks about how she wants to be independent and self-sustaining, but also wants someone to come home to and someone to support her when she needs help. She used to hide her femininity and lie, saying she liked black when really she liked pink, and that she likes shoes and maxi dresses. She talks about how feminism has so much riding on its shoulders, and every time it 'fails' in public or a feminist public figure messes up, the whole of feminism as an idea is attacked for being WRONG WRONG WRONG. Perfection is not something that can ever be grasped, so why do we expect it from feminism? 

This collection is full of essays on incredibly varied topics, with someone of my favourites being 'Typical First Year Professor' (about her first year of teaching at college), 'Girls Girls Girls' (about the TV show Girls), 'Not Here to Make Friends' (about being likeable), 'The Careless Language of Sexual Violence' (about the subject of rape in news reports), 'What We Hunger For' (on The Hunger Games book trilogy and film franchise), 'Dear Young Ladies Who Love Chris Brown So Much They Would Let Him Beat Them' (pretty self-explanatory), 'The Trouble with Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us' (on the Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey books and films, which actually made me watch the latter through sheer curiosity), and 'A Tale of Two Profiles' (on how we are always shocked when a white person commits acts of terrorism). Yes, I listed a lot, but a lot of them are truly wonderful. Gay seemingly has the ability to write on any topic under the sun and still make it interesting, easily readable, and something you want to learn more about. See: me watching 50 Shades of Grey to see if it really was that bad. It was.

If you're looking for a book on feminism from a mixed bag of angles, this is for you. If you're looking to get into essay collections, this is for you. If you're looking for intelligent commentary on popular culture, this is for you. If you want to start your foray into reading about issues of race and sexuality, this is for you. This book is for everybody.

M x

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