Published by Harper Perennial on August 5th 2014
Also by this author: Difficult Women
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color 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 of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. 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 spot-on 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.
I honestly don’t read a lot of non-fiction books or essay collections. However, I’ve been a fan of Roxane Gay since I read one of her fiction short stories on Rookie Mag years ago. I’ve wanted to read Bad Feminist for awhile, but just now got around to finally reading it. I’m glad that I did because it’s definitely a worthwhile read. Truthfully, I was surprised by how many negative reviews of this book that I read. In my opinion, Gay has done her research on these topics and isn’t afraid to share what she really thinks about pop culture, racism, gender, sexuality, and other topics. Though I know that you might always agree with what she had to say, but I personally was still able to respect her opinions regardless.
I’m not entirely sure how to review this book since it consists of various essays that sorted depending on the topic. While I found most of the essays to be engaging, there were certainly some standouts as well. One of my favorites was “The Trouble with Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us.” She talks about how the “princes” in fairy tales and literature are extremely problematic at times. She first talks about Disney princes like Eric from Little Mermaid, Prince Charming from Snow White, and even the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. She makes the point that the female characters have to make some kind of sacrifice in order to be with that prince. Gay then looks at more modern literature like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, where both love interests are super possessive and the heroine has to give up a part of herself in able to be with him. It’s definitely a fascinating and truthful take on how popular culture can seriously damage our views on love.
As I stated before, not everyone is going to agree with the TV shows and movies that Gay criticizes. When she’s talking about race, she criticizes ridiculously popular movies like The Help, Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, and Tyler Perry’s movies. I’m not going to lie, I personally was a fan of The Help, but I still believe that Gay’s analysis of it was well thought out, and honestly something that I sadly hadn’t considered before. She also analyzes Orange is the New Black, which is a show that I love. Gay wasn’t totally impressed with the first season, and I do agree that it acknowledges that it’s diverse a little too often. But I feel like it was a lot more fleshed out in the following seasons where Piper wasn’t the primary focus. It is a sad truth that the white characters seem to have more of a sexuality than everyone else, with the exception of a few characters.
I could go on and on about each essay written by Roxane Gay, but I’ll just leave it at that. I think that she’s an awesome author and I can’t wait to read more of her works, both fiction and nonfiction. Is this a perfect collection? No, not really, but that isn’t really the point. The point is that this is an honest and compelling work about modern feminism and what exactly it means to different women. This book might not be for everyone, but it’s still an entertaining and well written book that I’m happy that I finally got around to reading.