Bad Feminist review º 109

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Bad Feminist review º 109 Ð ❮EPUB❯ ✺ Bad Feminist Author Roxane Gay – Horticulturetrader.co.uk 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 ironic Pink is my favorite color I used 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 issueIn these fu. I became aware of the “I don’t need feminism because ” meme several months ago You know—those photos of young women holding up signs that read things like “I don’t need feminism because I am capable of critical thinking” or “I don’t need feminism because I am not a delusional disgusting hypocritical man hater” I shook my head rolled my eyes but still these weird declarations chilled me How did a socio political movement founded on the principles of empowerment and eual rights become reduced to “disgusting man haters” Who are these ignorant young women who believe that feminism is a dirty word something to be ashamed of and how do they not understand what they owe to the generations before them and how much work there is yet to doFor the purpose of this review these uestions are purely rhetorical The answers are there they are complex and the subject of many a dissertation I am certain Which is probably why Tumblrs of anti feminist rants exist—we stopped talking about what feminism means on an every day cultural level Feminism removed itself to the alabaster towers of academe where concepts such as intersectionality essentialism Third Wave feminism and patriarchal bargaining are no match for the mainstream which is still shuddering over 80s shoulder pads as wide as an airplane hangar Well thank God for Roxane Gay and her collection of intimate generous witty and wholly accessible essays Bad Feminist Her voice is the first I’ve heard say “It’s okay to be messy to hold conflicting opinions to do things that don’t follow the party line to uestion and be confused and STILL be a feminist” As she says in the collection’s closing line “I’d rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all”First a few things you should know about Roxane Gay she’s a writer of novels short stories essays; a professor of English; a literary and cultural critic; a native of Nebraska the daughter of Haitian immigrants You will learn much about Roxane by reading her essays Some of what she shares will make you laugh Some of it will break your heart At some point she will hit a nerve and piss you off though not when she writes about participating in Scrabble competitions she's adorable and so so funny here She ruminates chats gossips but rarely does Gay conclude Her essays hinge on the ellipses of what makes us human our vulnerabilities our inconsistencies our flaws Like each of us she is “a mess of contradictions;” hence her admission her claim to being a “bad feminist”Don’t look here for an historical treatise or a modern exposition of feminism This is not a textbook It is not a uick and dirty “Feminism for Dummies” It is one woman’s thoughts many of these essays have been published previously giving to a loose and rangy feeling to this collection on a wide range of contemporary American issues political and cultural with the basic theme of how feminism can confound and inspire Gay is a pop culture enthusiast and many of her essays examine contemporary race and gender relations through the filter of current cultural touchstones She is an unabashed consumer of what are pointlessly referred to as ‘guilty pleasures’ I floundered a bit at times feeling like I was smushed into a corner booth with a bunch of girlfriends at brunch suirming and looking around the diner unable to contribute to the conversation I haven’t had television since 1993 and I don't read fan ficStill I soaked up what Gay had to say about the pop culture phenoms even if I couldn’t relate to the details She has this raw way of setting forth her opinion often pointed contrary angry or biting but without a hint of snobbery You get that she gets it’s opinion not gospel She makes many points that resonated deeply with this reader In the essay Beyond the Measure of Men Gay writes The label “women’s fiction” is often used with such disdain I hate how “women” has become a slur I hate how some women writers twist themselves into knots to distance themselves from “women’s fiction” as if we have anything to be ashamed of as women who write what we want to write I don’t care of my fiction is labeled as women’s fiction I know what my writing is and what it isn’t Someone else’s arbitrary designation can’t change that If readers discount certain topics as unworthy of their attention then the failure is with the reader not the writer To read narrowly and shallowly is to read from a place of ignorance and women writers can’t fix that ignorance no matter what kind of books we write or how those books are marketed”But in later essays The Trouble with Prince Charming The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other uaint Remembrances from 1960s Mississippi Thoughts on The Help and Surviving Django she takes to task both the writers and readers of Fifty Shades of Gray Twilight and The Help and the film Django Unchained Gay draws the inclusive reading line at irresponsible writing of poor uality that celebrates the subjugation and abuse of women and at writing and film that craps all over the black American experience Gay also naturally discusses feminism from the perspective of a woman of color This opens worlds of opinion and perspective that this reader craves In light of this summer’s controversy over domestic abuse the NFL and the punishment Janay Rice suffered at the hands of her husband and the media as well as the killing of Michael Brown and the unrest in Ferguson MO I want to ask these young women of Tumblr “How’s that ‘I don’t need feminism’ working out for you” For I do not believe that feminism is the purview of women It belongs to all who advocate for social justice and human rights Gay makes the point again and again in so many clever and self effacing ways that we have isolated ourselves in our narrow categories Feminism is not spared her scorn it has largely excluded women of color ueer women transgendered women it hasn’t dealt adeuately with fat shaming it doesn’t recognize privilege it offers up highly educated wealthy successful white women Marissa Mayer Sheryl Sandburg as proof that things have changed But what is most striking about Bad Feminist is to hear a strong wise accomplished vocal woman say “I’m still trying to figure out what feminism means to me”

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Nny 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 i. Well this was a huge disappointment I had such high hopes for Roxane Gay A Haitian American cultural critic with a master's and a nonperfect body type Yes I was sure she would eviscerate popular culture and social injustice with an incisive eye and a uniue perspective But nope These aren't really essays; they're like unstructured wallowings ramblings that just flit from thing to thing and never get anywhere or lead to any new thinking Yes Gay takes stream of consciousness meanders through race and class and reality television and sexual violence and Twitter and respectability politics and Scrabble and The Hunger Games But there's no structure In one essay she'll talk about Twilight and then she'll talk about rape and then she'll talk about fairy tales without ever returning or making any broad claims that tie it all together In another she goes on and on about how bad Law Order SVU is for our society and perpetuating rape culture and then she says I've watched every episode of this show multiple times I don't know what that says about me You don't Why not This is a book of personal essays Why don't you ponder that a little bit and try to draw some goddamn conclusions I never felt challenged by her ideas and I don't think she challenged herself to actually dig into them either In an essay about why the book is called Bad Feminist she rails against the idea of an essential feminism whereby all feminists can be grouped into one category that's defined by a fixed set of ideals and traits And then immediately after that she explains that she's a bad feminist because she likes the color pink and refuses to learn how cars work and wants to have a baby Did she not even re read her own work before sending it off to be put in a bookI think part of the problem plagiarizing myself from my own comments is that because of teh internetz publishers are conflating popular on Twitter with is able to write well They're tossing off book deals to anyone with an impressive following and not pushing writers to do harder work than they've already done online As if having a talent for snappy one liners is not the exact goddamn opposite of being good at thinking deeply about an idea and drawing surprising and interesting conclusions from itOn a personal note another issue has to be that I read this so shortly after the fall down stunning Empathy Exams Jamison's dazzling pieces—or really any essays done well—read like tightly constructed meditations beginning middle end investigations pursuing an attempt to solve a uandary or at least interrogating an idea and shaking loose some brilliance from it But Gay's essays are all basically unsophisticated blog posts They never got anywhere and just left me frustratedIn conclusion there are some really fantastic essay collections being published today This is definitely not one of 'em

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Bad FeministNsightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society but also one of our cultureBad 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. I fucking hate Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist It’s disappointing on every level and has nothing thought provoking to say about anything It’s full of obvious statements juvenile essays about YA books she loves and easy breezy criticisms of other books If you want to read about feminism don’t start with this book It was reviewed and marketed as a book about gender issues and feminism Aside from the introduction the topic of gender and feminism isn’t broached in any serious way until page 71 in a terrible chapter called “Garish Glorious Spectacles” I wish the title had reflected the reality that this is a book of general essays in which feminism is just one of many topics I’ve also learned that many if not all of the essays were previously published on the internet Had I known this I never would have bought it Anyone writing any kind of shit can be “published” on the internet Bad Feminist is a deliberately provocative title designed to grab media attention thus readers’ attention Don’t fall for the hype The writing is technically competent but not at a level I expected Gay often tries to be funnyshe’s not In fact in other essays she demonstrates a very amusing lack of humor and inability to see the joke—particularly when it’s on her She has an unusual background—daughter of Haitian immigrants often the only black girl amongst white girls and later the only professional black woman in her department if not the whole university—but her experiences do not translate into dynamic details Her writing is as bland and as unremarkable as the popular white girls she worshipped in school and the creepy perfect blond girls in the Sweet Valley High books that she desperately wanted to become While I suppose that Gay is intelligent and accomplished and an adult I suppose this because she tells me so that does not come through in her essays In the first chapter “Feel Me See Me Hear Me Reach Me” Gay discusses how hard she’s worked to achieve her successes and how much she wants to be liked She comes across as desperate to be liked—both in her younger schooling days and now This impression doesn’t hold true for all of the essays but she still seems to be that young girl and grad student craving acceptance and affection from popular white girls Her essays have no teeth; they do not shock me surprise me or offend me I was promised a bad feminist and Gay does not deliver The essays are grouped into subjects “Me” “Gender Sexuality” “Race Entertainment” etc The essays in her first section “Me” are a colorless summary of her childhood and schooling leading into her career as a professor My opinion of those essays she watches too much crappy tv and needs to get a life She also needs to get some self esteem and uit wishing for people to like her Like yourself first The essay “Peculiar Benefits” takes on the subject of “privilege” She repeats the word “privilege” so many times it begins to sound weird in my head Privilege privilege privilege She talks about how she is privileged how others are privileged and the different types of privilege eg economic gender religious racial We’re all guilty of being privileged in some way or another and we shouldn’t judge others She talks about Playing the Game of Privilege and that it’s mental masturbation I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about and who plays this game I understand that yes if you’re white you have a leg up over all the other minorities If you’re also white male and wealthy then you’ve hit the jackpot of privilege But she goes on and on about this notion of privilege and I can’t help but think she’s dancing around the subject of affirmative action She never says that but she alludes to it not in this essay If she wants to discuss affirmative action as a way to correct white privilege then why doesn’t she Or if that’s not what she means then she should say that too It’s as if she’s saying look we all have some kind of privilege so stop judging the idea of affirmative action She’s defending it without being explicit That’s gutless Say what you mean for crying out loud That’s a good discussion to have and as a white person I’d be very interested to hear her thoughts on it But she hides behind the word “privilege” and avoids having a discussion that is worthy of having In “To Scratch Claw or Grope Clumsily or Frantically” Gay tells the reader all about her experiences competing in Scrabble tournaments I don’t give a shit about Scrabble tournaments After reading this trivial and not funny at all essay I give even less of a shit about competitive Scrabble I didn’t think that was possible but Gay with her 30 annoying footnotes and excessive details about the rules of tournament Scrabble proved to me it was I don’t know where this essay belongs but it does not belong in a book entitled Bad FeministIn the “Gender Sexuality” section the essays do not improve Her first essay “How to Be Friends with Another Woman” is a long list of mostly common sense items Seriously if you need to be told to be genuinely happy for your woman friends when they are successful and happy #5 then you’re probably an asshole who shouldn’t have friends Other items are so incredibly juvenile and immature #6B Begin serious conversations with an emphatic “GIRL” and #9 “Don’t let your friends buy ugly outfits or accessories you don’t want to look at when you hang out This is just common sense” 49—what the fuck Roxanne Are you 16 that I did a head smack when reading them This list completely undermines my efforts to take anything Gay says seriously That’s my biggest problem with Gay—I can’t take her seriously Her essays seem to have been written with barely any thought and very little research She wants approval for saying that yeah sexism is bad and racism is bad Really That’s not much of a stretch She reminds me of an idiot former co worker who often described herself as a “different kind of Christian” because she didn’t say anything mean about black people and thought gay people should be allowed to marry I mean wow Please congratulate yourself on meeting the lowest expectation of human kindness That’s how I think of Gay She seems to want to be loved respected and applauded for saying the most obvious fucking things Gay has nothing of interest to say to me Nothing She often doesn’t seem to understand the books she reads and criticizes She uotes two sentences from Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman and completely misses the point of the text and the joke Caitlin Moran “All women love babies—just like all women love Manolo Blahnik shoes and George Clooney Even the ones who wear nothing but sneakers or are lesbians and really hate shoes and George Clooney” This is how Gay interprets that “Again this is funny but it is also untrue and to try to generalize about women for the sake of humor dismisses the diversity of women and what we love Moran undermines herself by privileging there’s that damn word again feminism as something that can exist in isolation of other considerations Her feminism exists in a very narrow vacuum to everyone’s detriment” 104 The joke of course is that Moran is being sarcastic—women are supposed to like those things even if it’s obvious they don’t I would guess since Gay very carefully picks out sentences to criticize that Moran’s greater theme is that women are viewed in a very narrow spectrum by someone The second joke is on Gay for being oblivious of Moran’s joke This seems to be the norm of Gay’s critiues of other books She is uick to form criticisms of the books and doesn’t put enough effort into digesting what she’s readGay is clear about one thing her enthusiastic consumption of popular media Anyone over the age of 25 who has such fangirl reactions to reality tv The Hunger Games “Let me be clear Team Peeta I cannot fathom how one could be on any other team” 138 and the Sweet Valley High series has lost my respect Not that an intelligent woman can’t enjoy these things But her essays about these topics smack of school girl fervor Plus she included them in a book titled Bad Feminist a book I expected would be full of thought provoking essays on feminism not suees over Peeta Her essay about the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is way longer than the subject deserves Gay makes the mistake of taking the books seriously She knows they are based on Twilight fan fiction correction they are fan fiction—James basically just changed the characters’ names however she feels the need to point out the obvious the books are sloppily edited poorly written and unrealistic Despite how incredibly silly and ridiculous the books are she criticizes them for “flagrantly pathologizing the BDSM lifestyle as strictly a way for fucked up people to work out their emotional issuesit is not an accurate portrayal of the community It sends a wrong and unfair message about kink” 200 Gay let’s keep some perspective It’s fucking Fifty Shades of Grey Anyone who takes anything in the books seriously is already a lost cause Plus it’s a fictional book Based on Gay’s logic any author who describes her serial killer character as a blue eyed blonde is also “inaccurately portraying” blue eyed blondes After all not all of them are murderers She continues “The books are essentially a detailed primer for how to successfully engage in a controlling abusive relationship” 201 As if men and women although really men need a “primer” for how to control women Yes I’m sure that men who decide to be controlling think to themselves “HmmI’d like to be able to completely control and dominate my woman but don’t know how to go about it I guess I’ll read Fifty Shades of Grey because it’s recommended as the perfectly detailed primer for how to successfully engage in controlling abusive relationships” What’s even dumber is that Christian Grey never does control Ana the idiot If anything she controls him with her whining her tears and her often unintentional slow response to answering his texts and emails Ana makes her own choices She chooses to stay with him He doesn’t force her Gay even unwittingly undermines her own “Mr Grey is an evil controlling asshole” assertion by writing he “tries” to control her; she “inexplicably” signs an agreement if she had no choice in the matter there’d be nothing “inexplicable” about it; he “offers” to travel with her; and “Time and again she chooses to sacrifice what she really wants for the opportunity to be loved by her half assed Prince Charming” 203 Ana wasn’t in a controlling abusive relationship He warned her about the kind of “relationship” he wanted She thought she could turn him into the perfect boyfriend That’s it What’s so amusing disgusting irritating about this essay is that one she put way fucking thought into it than she did her supposed feminist essays and two she says we cannot dismiss the flaws of the trilogy just because the books are fun and the sex is hot giggle Oh no “The damaging tone has too broad a reach That tone reinforces pervasive cultural messages women are already swallowing about what they should tolerate in romantic relationships about what they should tolerate to be loved by their Prince Charming” 204 Those aren’t the flaws of the books The “damage” of the books is that they are poorly written shoddily if at all edited and yet they were published and made a lot of money These books demonstrate that the reading public easily embraces shitty books—that’s as far as I’m concerned the real damage of these books At the end of this horrible book of essays Gay finally explicitly revisits her supposed main thesis in “Bad Feminist Take One” and “Bad Feminist Take Two” The first essay is a whole lot of privilege bitching about Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In The second essay explains that she is a bad feminist because she apparently doesn’t fit the very narrow definition of a feminist that Gay herself decided upon She likes the color pink She likes reading Vogue She likes dresses She shaves her legs sweet Jesus say it isn’t so She doesn’t know anything about cars She listens to music that has sexist lyrics She commits the unpardonable sin of liking men having sex with them no and wanting babies that’s it kill her Who is her audience Who the fuck is she speaking to It’s as if she’s trying to differentiate herself from Andrea Dworkin who probably would have throttled her for liking pink and wearing dresses but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Gay has not one fucking clue who Andrea Dworkin was So what is her definition of a feminist This is what she says “My favorite definition of ‘feminist’ is ‘women who don’t want to be treated like shit’ This definition is pointed and succinct but I run into trouble when I try to expand that definition I fall short as a feminist I feel like I am not as committed as I need to be that I am not living up to feminist ideals because of who and how I choose to be” 303 So what ideals is she not living up to Why does liking pink listening to misogynistic rap music and liking babies make you a bad anything Why does the definition she cites have to be expanded to include arbitrary conditions and limitations Basically Gay calls herself a “bad” feminist because she is gasp a human woman full of contradictions Just like I guess every other human woman on the planet She likes shitty reality television shows obsesses over YA novels and enjoys music with non PC attitudes towards women Gay admits this in her essays proclaims that these interests are bad for her feminist soul then pats herself on the back for being so so brave to admit all this to the world Now we the reading female public should wipe the tears from our eyes and thank her for showing us the way—we too can be brave and admit our love for shitty tv and garbage novels Thank you Roxanne Gay If you like all that stuff and still have the courage to call yourself a feminist albeit a “bad” one then we must be strong enough to hang out our feminist flags too Give me a fucking break Gay has absolutely nothing to add to the conversation about feminism As a black woman she has nothing to add to the conversation about racism either All her indignation is of the most obvious kind I’m angry because I believed a very polished and misleading marketing campaign and bought this book I’m angered by the sophomoric writing and juvenile essays and her complete lack of understanding regarding feminism To narrowly define feminism by the shallow guidelines of your favorite color your preference in entertainment and whether you shave your various body parts is fucking ridiculous and an insult to intelligent women and men who actually do call themselves feminists and actually do fucking think about what the word means A feminist is a person who demands to be treated as a human being A person who wants control of her body who refuses to be ashamed for being a sexual being who wants to be respected and receive eual pay for her knowledge abilities and accomplishments A feminist does not limit the idea of feminism to only professional women to only heterosexual women to only white women Gay is a bad feminist not because she likes pink or reads Vogue She’s a bad feminist because she thinks those fucking things even matter