Book Review: Bad Feminist

Bad FeministTitle: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Genre: Biography, Essays, Feminism, Non-Fiction
Pages: 320
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 5th August 2014
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Rating: ★★★★★

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.

It isn’t often I say this, but I think everyone should read this book. It is exactly the piece of feminist literature I wish existed when I was in my teens, that I feel privileged to have read at just twenty-four, so I can take what I have learnt and use it for good.

Of course, there are things to gain from every woman’s perspective on feminism. Each story or view either confirms or challenges views of my own, so material like this is always good reading one way or another. Bad Feminist is no different – more than ever, I think, my views were challenged, and I felt like I finished the book seeing the world a little differently, and with certainty in the fact that everyone should be a feminist.

Roxane Gay tackles some heavy but necessary topics, including her own experiences of racism and rape. At times, I found it difficult to read. Some things need to be said, but that doesn’t always make them easy to hear. Whilst it isn’t always an easy read in this sense, the shortness of the essays and the conversational tone that Roxane frequently adopts makes it a book to carry in your bag and read here and there around a busy schedule (which is exactly how my copy came to be waterlogged by the end of the final essay – ah, sweet British weather). This is exactly what makes the book stand out. It is accessible, not just non-fiction thick with jargon.

It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away.

Bad Feminist

I didn’t know which essays to talk about, because so many resonated with me. In ‘Not Here to Make Friends’, Gay discusses likeability of female characters in literature – they aren’t there to be our friends, so why are we so harsh towards flawed protagonists? It made me reevaluate the way I read and review books, and I wrote a whole blog post about this revelation.

In ‘Dear Young Ladies Who Love Chris Brown So Much They Would Let Him Beat Them’, Gay addresses girls who are attracted to men like Chris Brown, who make excuses for some men’s violence and general poor behaviour towards women. It made me think of behaviours I have excused, or rewarded over the years – it made me promise myself to be a better woman from now on.

I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.

Books like this will always be important. It’s good to have your views pushed, to be given the opportunity to see things in a new way. Books like this remind you that you aren’t alone.

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)


I’m looking for more excellent feminist reads like this one – please do share your recommendations!

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