13: Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist: EssaysBad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bought at Chapters on Robson.

Read August – November 2014.

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When feminism falls short of our expectations we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement. (“Introduction,” x)

Ok, so it looks like I took forever to read this, but it was mostly off-and-on during Sept/Oct. I’d read most of these essays before, so even though the book was new, it was almost like a re-read and I didn’t feel the need to race through.

She is grieving, after all, and in grief, there is a certain amount of indulgence for bad behavior. Sorrow allows us a freedom happiness does not. (“Reaching for Catharsis,” 114)

I don’t typically read books when they’re newly released, and reading Bad Feminist (and An Untamed State earlier this year) at the same time as everyone else and their dog reminded me why I prefer reading random backlist over new releases. The cacophony of opinions on new releases is… overwhelming. I mean, yes, I can ignore it, and I do try for the most part, but it still feels like everything there is to be said has been said many times over (whether that’s true or not) and makes me less interested in writing about the book myself. This is probably weird. Whatever. Here’s Roxane’s Bad Feminist page! Go read what other people had to say. 😉

Or just read it. It’s on basically every best nonfiction book list of 2014.

The solutions are obvious. Stop making excuses. Stop saying women run publishing. Stop justifying the lack of parity in prominent publications that have the resources to address gender inequity. Stop parroting the weak notion that you’re simply publishing the best writing, regardless. There is ample evidence of the excellence of women writers. Publish more women writers. If women aren’t submitting to your publication or press, ask yourself why, deal with the answers even if those answers make you uncomfortable, and then reach out to women writers. If women don’t respond to your solicitations, go find other women. Keep doing that, issue after issue after issue. Read more widely. Create more inclusive measures of excellence. Ensure that books by men and women are being reviewed in equal numbers. Nominate more deserving women for the important awards. Deal with your resentment. Deal with your biases. Vigorously resist the urge to dismiss the gender problem. Make the effort and make the effort and make the effort until you no longer need to, until we don’t need to keep having this conversation. (“Beyond the Measure of Men,” 171-172)

Best of? I think “What We Hunger For” (fingers crossed her next book—titled Hunger—is connected to this essay). I also esp. like: “Not Here to Make Friends” (on unlikable female characters) and “The Politics of Respectability”:

We must stop pointing to the exceptions—these bright shining stars who transcend circumstance. We must look to how we can best support the least among us, not spend all our time blindly revering and trying to mimic the greatest without demanding systemic change. (“The Politics of Respectability,” 260)