by Roxane Gay
read in August 2017
“To have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged. Surrendering to the acceptance of privilege is difficult, but it is really all that is expected. What I remind myself, regularly, is this: the acknowledgement of my privilege is not a denial of the ways I have been and am marginalized, the ways I have suffered.”
update: After learning some new information on Tuesday, I no longer support this author. If you are active in the book community on Twitter, you might know what I’m talking about. I won’t elaborate since this involves a person that has had to endure harassment time and time again and I don’t want to make things worse. So contrary to what I said in my original review below, I won’t read any more of Gay’s work.
Bad Feminist is what it was supposed to be: a collection of essays by a woman who is certainly a feminist, albeit someone who’s rather focussed on the experiences of allocishet and North-American women.
I’m glad I decided to pick this up on audiobook instead of actually reading it myself. These essays were often scattered and at times more of a memoir, but because the narration was so good, it kept me interested. Though this wasn’t narrated by Gay herself, I had the feeling as if it was. The narration was so convincing. Especially the part where Gay talks about her rape, broke my heart.
Besides discussing feminism, Gay also shares her opinions on a variety of other topics, such as race. I loved that she didn’t limit these discussions to feminism, but discussed race as well, since it’s vital that feminism is intersectional. If you only care about the experiences of allocishet, able-bodied, white women, are you really a feminist?
Having said that, as a queer woman, I felt that Gay’s primary focus was allocishet women. When talking about the kind of men women like, she generalises her audience. When she is talking about reproductive freedom, she fails to mention trans people.
The author also discusses a lot of pop culture, such as the book Gone Girl and movies like Twelve Years a Slave. First of all, as someone who is European, I didn’t know half of the people, movies, books, etc. she was referring to. Often, she discussed them very in depth, but I couldn’t bring myself to care much because I don’t know them! Furthermore, she often spoils the plot of these films, books and TV series, which might not bother many readers, but I for instance won’t watch Twelve Years a Slave anymore, since Gay already told me everything that’s going to happen.
I very much disagree with her stance on trigger warnings. Just because she doesn’t need them, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t protect others. It’s such a selfish way of thinking: just because they don’t work for me, I don’t see how they can work for anyone else. It’s not at all censorship, it’s only making sure that people don’t get hurt. So, here you go: these essays contain a trigger warning for sexual harassment and graphic descriptions of rape.
Because of some of the issues I had, I agree that Bad Feminist is a very appropriate tittle for this collection of issues. I’m a feminist myself, but am most likely far from a perfect one. I’d definitely recommend listening to this on audiobook and I plan on reading more of Gay’s work!