Friday, 22 January 2016

Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Title: Bad Feminist
Author: Roxane Gay
Publisher: Corsair
Pages: 339
Genres: Narrative Non-Fiction

Bad Feminist

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of colour (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). 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 sincere 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.
Many of the essays in Bad Feminist are brilliant cutting commentaries of the many things wrong with society today, most if not all related to misogyny. There were a few essays that were a bit too far away from the topic of feminism than I would have liked. Don't get me wrong, I found the essay wryly dissecting competitive scrabble absolutely hilarious; and some of the essays examining pop culture I wasn't familiar with were less interesting to me.

What truly was eye opening for me were the essays about race, specifically how black people and especially black women are treated in films, books and TV shows. I just never thought about it before so I am grateful that Roxane Gay actually opened up my eyes to seeing her radically different perspective. What enlightened me most was her discussion about acknowledging our own privilege, which is another good point about life that just had never had been on my radar.

Some essays moved me to tears, literally. Especially the issues of weight, self esteem, triggers, and personal pain - that stuff was raw. I felt amazed that I was reading something that just presented these issues so accurately, opening wounds that I was surprised that I still had. Major feels.

Another issue I was unprepared for was the issue on reproductive rights in the U.S. As someone who was born and raised in a country where there is a very liberal view on sexual and reproduction rights, where contraception is free for everyone and abortions are an option that can be easily accessed - to think that the same liberal rights are not as freely accessible across the pond blew my mind. It sounds so ridiculous of me but again I never really thought about it and just took the knowledge of that privilege here for granted.

There were some opinions presented that I didn't necessarily agree with in Bad Feminist but Roxane Gay has such a tactful, neutral way of stating her opinions that I didn't feel offended or angrily incensed by any of what she had to say even if I disagreed. Overall, I love books that can teach me a little something about the world that I didn't know before and that is why I applaud Bad Feminist, just like its namesake it is not perfect, but is utterly fascinating in parts despite its flaws.

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