Book Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Posted July 20, 2017 by shooting in Book Review / 14 Comments

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Review by Lauren

source: copy from e-library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): 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.

Review: Bad Feminist is a book that I’ve heard a lot about, so I finally decided to check out this book of essays with an overarching theme of feminism. Gay has a good writing style, bringing in personal experience, research, and novels to make her point about various topics. While I’m not a POC of color, like the author, I could still read those essays and be empathetic toward Gay and other POC who don’t get to see themselves in popular media or who are treated differently because of the color of their skin. However, I am a woman and feminism in the most simple terms is “equal rights between men and women” and that’s something I could definitely relate to and understand. Despite this book being written by a female author, I think men can and should read it too. Feminism isn’t anti-men, after all, and if people are anti-men and declaring themselves feminist, then they don’t understand the overall goal of the movement.

I liked that Gay states she’s a bad feminist, because she doesn’t always do the things she knows she should. One small example is that she likes to listen to hip hop/rap music that is very much anti-women. I think this is common for a lot of people, especially if you listen to the radio. You like the voice, the music, and yeah, the lyrics aren’t great…but you can’t help but nod or even sing along. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Maybe it makes you a bit of a bad feminist, but nobody is perfect, and feminism isn’t perfect. It’s a movement for equality but not everyone follows it in the same way. This is probably the biggest reason it gets such a bad rap, from men and women. Gay talks about women who try to distance themselves from feminism, including big names in pop culture. They are asked if they are a feminist in interviews and they say no. I hate hearing this because they are letting the negative aspects of feminism keep them from saying “yes, I believe in equal rights between men and women.” They shouldn’t say “I hate men” or “women are better” because that’s not feminism, and if they think it is, then that’s kind of sad.

Bad Feminist is a bit of an educational experience; it’s full of interesting and intelligent essays. While I didn’t love everything in the book, I could understand or empathize with most of it. I would certainly recommend people read it to get just one perspective on not only feminism, but inter-sectional feminism (this means you aren’t a straight, white woman).

I actually pre-ordered Gay’s newest release, a memoir called Hunger, so that I could meet her and get it signed. Unfortunately, I was sick and couldn’t attend, but I hadn’t picked up my book so I got it from the store yesterday and while it’s not personalized, it was signed, so I’m excited about that. I can’t wait to read it!

14 responses to “Book Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

  1. Sounds like a good read. I think many of us share feminist ideals, but wouldn’t call ourselves feminists. Like with political affiliations, it sometimes feels as if we need to adhere to the extreme of a movement – or at least champion its extreme ideas – to consider ourselves truly that.

    That’s unfortunate, because there’s so much common middle ground we can agree on, especially in feminism. I consider myself a male feminist, influenced not only by raising three daughters, but also by coaching primarily girls’ teams, and associated most closely with female bloggers.

    Nice review!

  2. Good review. We don’t have to agree with everything we read; our job, instead, is to consider it and then make up our own minds. Exposure to differing views is valuable: it broadens, deepens and enriches our understanding of the world.

  3. I am going to be reading this with my book club in a couple of months and I cannot wait! I do consider myself a feminist but I don’t always feel like I’m a good one, so I’m really excited to read about her thoughts on the subject.

  4. I have this book on my list and definitely can’t wait to check it out. I would agree that I’m probably a bad feminist, too, but hey. We all have room for improvement in our lives, right? 🙂 Great review!

  5. This sounds like a great book! I am a feminist as well, although like the title of this book, I feel like I’m at times a bad feminist, haha. (I hate rap/hip hop though.) Definitely would like to read this at some point!

  6. Jen

    Thanks for your review. I agree that we don’t have to agree with everything we read, but we can learn something new for sure. I just learned the meaning behind the term inter-sectional!

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