The Bad Feminist
People read books for many reasons. Some individuals have a desire to gain knowledge; others want to get new perspectives regarding similar situations that are presented differently by reading several books, and some persons wish to escape from pressure and depression. It is after reading that a reader forms a particular idea of the book and is able to give it a negative or positive review depending on his/her expectations and the experience he/she had while the work. However, there is one particular thing that every individual loves, and it is a well-organized book that examines the most relevant issues. The Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay is one of them as it is to understand because the author has divided her ideas into subtopics, and the themes she discusses are gender inequality, feminism, and racial discrimination.
One of the societal problems considered in The Bad Feminist is the one of racial inequality. The first part of the book begins with her narrative about her life as a black woman. The author acknowledges that she is blessed in many ways compared to other African Americans at least for being a professor. She goes ahead to describe her experiences as a black girl. In particular, Roxane says that she had to work “three times harder than the white kids to get half the consideration” (9). Luckily, she has managed to become a professor who is in constant search of the best community suitable for her. Additionally, the third part of the book touches on the issue of race and entertainment industry, and Gay critiques the portrayal of African Americans in movies and the roles they play. She draws attention to the fact that, as a rule, they act as slaves and servants. Moreover, they are depicted as racists and uneducated individuals. It is stated that in the film Mississippi, the African American is a “lower class, uneducated black person” (209). Furthermore, the fourth part focuses on the fact that the blacks are usually regarded as criminals which supports the claim of racial discrimination against these people in the society.
Another topic that is examined by Gay is the issue of gender inequality and sexual violence in America. To analyse the problem, the author uses movies and series such as Bridesmaid, Twilight, and Girlfriends. In fact, she praises Bridesmaids as it shows that “even women can be funny” (53). However, at the same time, the writer is discontented with the fact that despite the world being in post-feminism era, women continue to suffer gender inequality, instances of rape, sexual abuse and being used as objects of advertisements. In additions, it is highlighted that even when it comes to the LGBTQ rights, the men’s rights come before those of female couples. Sadly, movies and entertainment sectors have normalized sexual violence by joking at it in numerous scenes. Further in the book, Gay claims that a lot of females are raped even by the closest of their friends and, what is more, gives an account of how her boyfriend sexually assaulted her in middle school. This fact has made me think about the given problem in modern schools today. Thus, I would like to carry a research of the issue in the future and try to find a solution to the problem of female sexual harassments in educational establishments.
In addition, the issue of gays’ rights has been addressed in the work as well. It has been a controversial topic for a long time, and only recently, president Obama has signed the bill that allows same-sex marriages. The event has become a milestone as far as homosexuals’ rights are concerned. Today, there are reality shows hosted by gay couples, and it has become almost acceptable in the today’s media society. However, the attention is paid to the fact that the media has put more considerable emphasis on men’s homosexual relationships than the females’ ones. Besides, in reality shows, most the gay couples are whites, thus, proving racial discrimination in the portrayal of this group of people (Gamson, 2009, p. 225).
To continue, from the title of the book, it is obvious that one of the major themes Gay covers is feminism. In particular, the last part of the work provides the essentials of feminism and urges to follow and fight for it. It is useful as currently, there is a lot of confusion regarding the movement, and a lot of women are perplexed about its main principles (Haraway, 1991, p. 296). Speaking about the author, Roxane regards herself a bad feminist because she cannot live according to the rules of the movement which suggests that there are right and wrong ways of being a feminist and, as a result, faces divisions within itself. For instance, some feminists are annoyed that there are females who choose to do as they are told by their leaders instead of using their own wit and intelligence to make decisions of their own (Kruger, 2016). In fact, Gay herself is one of such women as she rejects the principles of critical feminism highlighting that it presupposes “anger, humorlessness, militancy, and a prescribed set of rules on how to be a proper feminist woman” (304). Just like Gay, I do not like some of the ideas promoted by feminism; in particular, those that state that women have to be given higher positions and seats in official institutions for the mere fact of being female without considering their qualifications and skills. Nevertheless, though she considers herself as a bad feminist who is alienated from radical ideas of the mainstream movement, she still thinks that it is necessary and advocates for feminism that takes into account and supports the rights of all women. The fact that she admits to being a lousy feminist is a courageous act of a woman who is not afraid of what fellow females will label her. In life, women need this kind of bravery to stand up for their rights which actually makes them feminists (314). Gay uses the book The Hunger Games to analyse the question of women’s courage and recommends its main heroine as one of the models of female’s strength saying that she is “a tough young woman who is forced to become even stronger in circumstances that might otherwise break her”(137). I think this kind of writing where writers draw their ideas from things and situations that we can relate to makes a book easy to understand.
The style of writing of The Bad Feminist is quite admirable. The author has organized the book in a collection of essays that stand on their own and are titled differently. Moreover, Gay has divided the book into five parts that are independent which gives an individual the chance to plan his/her reading. For instance, a person can decide to begin from the part five or part three depending on the topic they prefer, and they still will not miss the flow of the work. Besides, she shares her own experiences regarding the themes she writes about that can help the reader to recall his/her life situations similar to the ones described. Besides, in her writing, Roxane provides examples using well-known facts to address her issues under consideration. For instance, when describing framing roles according to race, she mentions renowned movies like Mississippi.
Although the book is well written and engaging, a few flaws need to be pointed out. Firstly, it is clear that Gay is a feminist who is terrible at it. If she had given the reader the history of the movement and explained what being a feminist means, the book would convey a powerful message about feminism. Secondly, despite the fact that separating the book into independent subtopic makes it easier for the reader to perceive it, the story lacks a smooth flow of narration because one has to jump from one topic to another.
Despite all the drawbacks mentioned above, The Bad Feminist is worth reading, and the audience it suits best is definitely women. This can be explained by the fact that most of the issues discussed touch on their lives and experiences, and they can borrow a lot that they can apply in their lives from the book. Besides, literature enthusiasts regardless of gender would find the book interesting. However, the age is a limiting factor, and only those people studying in high schools, colleges, universities and the older ones will be able to comprehend the problems depicted and considered in the piece of writing.
The Bad Feminist is, therefore, a book that talks about topical themes namely feminism, gender inequality, racial discrimination, and gays’ rights among others. Roxane Gay uses great examples and vivid illustrations to depict the issues in detail and make each of them easy to understand. Moreover, she has arranged the book in a style that allows the reader to start reading it from any point and still get the message. The Bad Feminist is fascinating especially when as a female, she writer herself admits that she is a lousy fighter for females’ rights. However, the piece if writing under analysis has flaws. In particular, the presentation of feminism is shallow and could have been much better and deeper if some information on the history and main principles of the movement has been added to it. Either way, the book is worth reading, and I would recommend it to all the females, literature enthusiasts and students from high school to university.