Tag Archives: Roxane Gay

progress is mostly an illusion

[T]he few of us who do manage to break through are touted as examples of progress while we are still the exceptions and not the rule. And then, the writers who come up after us are told that there’s no room for them. … Those of us that break through are, to some, interchangeable tokens, trotted out as examples of progress when, in fact, that progress is mostly an illusion.

Roxane Gay

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taking a woman at her word

Too many women, particularly groundbreaking women and industry leaders, are afraid to be labeled as feminists. They’re afraid to stand up and say, “Yes, I am a feminist,” for fear of what that label means, for fear of being unable to live up to unrealistic expectations.

Take, for example, Beyoncé, or as I call her, The Goddess. She has emerged, in recent years, as a visible feminist. At the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, she performed in front of the word “feminist” 10 feet high. It was a glorious spectacle to see this pop star openly embracing feminism and letting young women and men know that being a feminist is something to celebrate. As the moment faded, cultural critics began endlessly debating whether or not Beyoncé was, indeed, a feminist. They graded her feminism, instead of simply taking a grown, accomplished woman at her word.

Roxane Gay

the other identities we inhabit

When we talk about the needs of women, we have to consider the other identities we inhabit. We are not just women. We are people with different bodies, gender expressions, faiths, sexualities, class backgrounds, abilities, and so much more. We need to take into account these differences and how they affect us, as much as we account for what we have in common. Without this kind of inclusion, our feminism is nothing.

Roxane Gay

 

the world is ambivalent about feminism

[T]here’s not a lot of factual awareness of feminism. It’s more like this word, this scary word, that maybe doesn’t apply to our lives for most of these students. And then some of them are curious and starting to dabble in thinking about feminism and what that might mean in their lives. And some of them are just downright hostile toward feminism because they think it’s something it’s not. And so you’re going to get a range of things. But mostly, I see a lot of ambivalence.

I think the world is ambivalent about feminism. So I can’t blame college students. I think they’re reflecting the greater culture’s attitude toward feminism. So what I can do is, in ways that are appropriate, advocate for feminism and help the students learn what feminism is about.

Roxane Gay

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.

View all my reviews

 

 

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)

the least among us

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.

—Roxane Gay
from “The Politics of Respectability”
in Bad Feminist (260)

issue after issue after issue

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.

—Roxane Gay,
from “Beyond the Measure of Men”
in Bad Feminist (171-172)

Baker & I collabbed on an Absolute Blank article: Tales From the Inbox: Baker & Beaver Discuss First Reading. That was fun. Oh, I also wrote this one: What Sets You Apart: On Valuing Your Own Experience. (That one practically killed me tbh. Writing! *shakes fist*)

Did I mention TC’s new issue? Probably not. I’ve been a flake lately. I wrote another SZ for it: Speak Your Truth. Need to poke one of the other editors to write something next issue; it’s turning into Beaver’s soapbox.