A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism that looks at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and a call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
Gay’s Bad Feminist, a collection of essays of cultural criticism, offers a complex and multifarious feminism to answer the movement’s ongoing PR issues, its flaws and its failures. Gay’s is a feminism for the ignorant and misinformed as much as for the historically excluded and ignored … Bad Feminist surveys culture and politics from the perspective of one of the most astute critics writing today … Gay presents the important distinction between the movement and the people who represent it (and who, as humans, inevitably make mistakes) … Gay’s is a liberating reclamation: a way to proudly identify as a feminist while protecting the inevitable messiness and plurality of human experience.
The ‘bad feminist’ moniker turns out to have a special magic—it allows Gay to resist the pressure to be perfect, and points out the irony of women fighting the sexist idea that they must be other than what they are (more beautiful, more agreeable, more maternal or professional or fill-in-the-blank), yet still demanding flawlessness from their feminist idols … While she shows a refreshing willingness to pose questions, treat them as deadly important, and not resolve them, the true value of her work might lie in illuminating, with startling immediacy and boldness, what it is like to be Roxane Gay, an author who filters every observation through her deep sense of the world as fractured, beautiful, and complex.
What Gay does well is show the ways in which all of us have internalized an ‘essential feminism’ that either doesn’t exist or is so riddled with stereotypes as to no longer deserve our attention … Bad Feminist signals an important contribution to the complicated terrain of gender politics. From the book’s beginning to its end, Gay struggles to define the parameters of the very movement she claims to eschew by being ‘bad’ or contrary to and within it. There’s a lesson in that struggle for all readers.