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Monday, January 19, 2015

Bad Feminist: Essays

I have been dying to read Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist since I read a buzzy article on it months ago. Also, I love the title.

I am not even sure how to blurb this book other than AWESOMESAUCE. Is that a technical term? Instead, I will elaborate on a selection of the essays I related to, which happens to be most of them.

The essay, "Typical First Year Professor," was so on point and true to life that I cried while laughing. I understood so deeply her gratefulness for a job in the field she worked so hard in to get a doctorate mixed with loneliness and fear – Things that I know will be coming when I take my first job. There is specifically a passage where she discusses the alarming rate of dying grandmothers in just one week in her class. That students think we don't know they're lying is one of the most humorous part of this job. I am strongly considering reading this passage on the first day of class this spring as a sort of, "Hey guys, I've got your number" moment.

Her essay on competitive Scrabble was one part hilarious and two parts fascinating. Her thoughts on the television show Girls helped illuminate the feelings I had toward that first season, which was really well done and a strong show, yet there was something I couldn't put my finger on and I just didn't like it. Gay explains that is an age thing--that I am no longer in my 20's, so this desperate search for self frustrates me because I don't want to relive it. In short, of course I felt that way. Like, duh.

She spends time seriously examining how we look at weight, and I was beyond engrossed. It was an essay that made me reflect deeply on how I view both myself and others in the physical realm. She spends time discussing the Sweet Valley High twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, and I reminisced with her. I loved those books growing up, as I am sure many girls did who were born in the late 70's and early 80's. I wanted to be those twins, just as Gay did, even though I would never look anything like them. It's amazing how these interpretations of perfect girls inhabit our lives and take hold of us.

Gay's essays on race and politics were particularly moving, and her examining specific films through her lens was raw. You have to be open to hearing what she has to say about race and depictions on the big screen in such films as Django Unchained and The Help and the enigma that is Tyler Perry. I found myself nodding along with her as I read these essays, and while I enjoyed the former two movies, I could see where she was coming from and it opened up in me new ways of viewing race depictions in movies. 

Her last two essays explain why she is a bad feminist, and I would like to tell Ms. Gay right here and now: So am I. I also like things I shouldn't, I enjoy looking pretty, and I love a good set of heels. But I care deeply about social justice and I want to be seen as a human with brains that are more awesome than my curves. So thank you, for this whole book.

I spent so much time virtually highlighting this library e-book that I just bought it from Amazon because this book is worth keeping.

For purchase below.

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