By Roxane Gay

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Genre: Nonfiction Feminist Essays

Publication Date: August 5th 2014

Format Read: Libby Audiobook

Goodreads Summary: 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.

Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


Review

I have been following Roxane Gay for a while now and finally decided to read what is arguably her most popular book, Bad Feminist. Through a compilation of essays on various topics from feminism, to race, to pop culture and the way it intersects with all of our other identities, Gay gave us a window into who she was as a person. What was more interesting to me, as someone who often binges a series of similar books from similar time periods all back to back, was what this book said about 2014 feminism.

As I’ve started to read (or rather, listen) to more nonfiction, I’ve gotten caught up in the era that is 2010-2015 feminism. I was just a young preteen to early teens girl during this time, and although I was vaguely aware of what was happening in the world, and was raised to consider myself a feminist, I also grew up relatively privilege and didn’t have to think about any type of discourse that deeply. By the time I was old enough to do any degree of critical thinking, Trump had taken office, Clinton had lost, and our public conversation was decidedly NOT in the girlboss era anymore. So reading Bad Feminist, which was written in 2014, was an incredibly interesting experience.

Many of Gay’s takes did not perfectly mirror my own, but I still enjoyed her perspectives. Her conversation on rape culture felt especially resonant. That entire section of the book hit me deeply and made me feel things. Her conversations regarding Django and being a black person in the United States were also interesting and relevant and well written. Gay clearly took the time to form coherent and well thought out opinions on all of these topics. It felt refreshing to hear a voice that was maybe more moderate than a lot of feminist and liberal voices today, but was still decidedly pro-black lives matter, pro-trans rights, and pro-lgbtq rights.

This book was good, and the more I write this review the more I realize that it was an interesting series of essays that I’m glad I read. My initial slightly low rating after reading it comes from the fact that this feels so dated. I could tell before even checking the date that this was written in the early 2010s. Maybe 20 years from now, this whole decade will all feel a lot closer and it will not have the same dated feel, but I felt like Sister, Outsider (the oldest of the “feminist texts” that I’ve read so far, written in the 80s) was more relevant to life in 2022 than Bad Feminist was. I think this is more of a reflection of the way times have been changing than a judgement on Gay’s writing.

I was talking with my father today and he said the early 2010s felt like everything was getting better, but now it feels like everything is getting worse. It makes the hopeful attitude– the tendency to focus on small things such as reality television, the confession to dating an extremely conservative man– all seem so trivial and unimportant as to deem this book not worth the read.

All of that to say, I don’t necessarily think this is a must read any longer, but it is an interesting look into the 2014 socio-political universe, and Gay is very skilled at combining her deep honesty with interesting cultural criticisms. This book was good, I just don’t think I needed to read it in 2022.

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