Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

18813642Two and a half stars, read in May 2015.

Gay has a lot of interesting things to say, particularly about media and pop culture, but I ended up being mostly annoyed with how much she harped on the “bad feminist” thing. She talks about how wrong it is for people to claim that there’s some kind of “essential feminism” which consists of “anger, humorlessness, militancy, unwavering principles, and a prescribed set of rules . . .” and the idea that feminists must “hate pornography, unilaterally decry the objectification of women, don’t cater to the male gaze, hate men, hate sex, focus on career, don’t shave.” As she points out, “this is nowhere near an accurate description of feminism,” and is a deliberate misrepresentation perpetrated by people who hate feminism.

(Except the part about decrying the objectification of women, which confuses me a little, because um yes? That is something we do? And I don’t see how it’s similar to the stereotype of man-hating.)

So then . . . Why is the entire premise of her book basically supporting that idea of an essential feminism? She calls herself a bad feminist because she doesn’t live up to those “ideals” that she has just declared are not the actual ideals of feminism. To end the book, she tells us how she’s failing as a feminist because she likes pink, shaves her legs, knows nothing about cars, fakes orgasms, and loves babies. That’s right—she calls herself a Bad Feminist because she wants to have a baby. Just . . .  What the hell?

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