Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist
Title: Bad Feminist
Author: Roxane Gay
Publication Date: 8/5/14
Pages: 320
Genre: Nonfiction
How I Found It: I've seen lots of people talking about it. 
Date Completed: 4/23/17

Summary: A series of essays exploring feminism in modern culture.

What I Thought: When this book came out a few years back, it got a lot of press and traction in the book world. I've had it on my list to read for a while. It felt like a good time to finally pick it up, given my recent effort to read more by people with different perspectives and experiences than me.

Let me say right off the bat, Gay is feisty. Her tone is self-deprecating...and others-deprecating. She has strong opinions and is not afraid to share them. She also has plenty of skill with words and the messages they convey. 

The book is a series of essays, most fairly short. Many of them revolve around popular culture and the depiction of women therein. The essays with pop culture references with which I am familiar were, unsurprisingly, more enjoyable to me. Any reference to The Hunger Games and I'm in. 

One area were I really felt some cognitive resistance was Gay's essays about race in pop culture. She particularly decimates The Help. As a white woman, I know I can never fully understand what it is like to be a black woman in America. Certainly not one during the Civil Rights Era. Gay complains that the depiction of black women in this movie is not complex enough and caters to the character of a "magical black friend" that so many stories use. Her take on the film is certainly very different from mine and it definitely made me think about the story in some new ways. That's a good thing. Personally, I think Gay is too harsh on the story; the subservience of the black women therein is a historical depiction. She complains that the black women need Skeeter, the white woman, to "rescue" them. I think that sometimes those with less power can accept the help of those with a more powerful platform to speak on their behalf - at least at the start. Sometimes that gets the ball rolling, it gets people listening who wouldn't bother otherwise. Still, I completely recognize Gay's complaint that this story maybe wasn't one to be told by a white person to begin with. We need more diverse voices sharing their own stories. I'll definitely concede that point.

I had a lot of other thoughts as I read through the collection. I think Gay does a great job analyzing culture and modern events from her unique perspective. She gave me a lot to think about. She is up front about both her flaws and strengths. She is not willing to stand down, to a fault at times. In general, I think it's a good read. It's definitely not going to be for everyone, but it was thoughtful and entertaining and I'm glad I read it. 

Quote I Loved: My digital library loan ran out before I could write down the quotes I liked. Oops. There were quite a few, though. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe

A Reduced Review: Gay's collection of essays on feminism and race in our modern culture were feisty, thoughtful, and entertaining. 

No comments:

Post a Comment