Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
Bad Feminist was my first real introduction to Roxane Gay’s writing and it was an incredibly wonderful start to this amazing writer. Gay comes to the table in this book as a contradictory and complex person – she openly embraces the fact that she contains multitudes and this shows in a remarkable way. She writes about Scrabble competitions in one essay and misogyny in another, all with a sense of vulnerability and understanding that really speaks to her as a person and society in general.
In this book, Gay writes about the personal, the political, and the personal as political in ways that had me turning the pages for hours. She adds anecdotes of her life while simultaneously discussing many different culturally relevant things, like the importance of young adult fiction, the privileged experience of HBO’s Girls, and Vanessa Williams getting crowned Miss America in 1984. And throughout the entire book, Gay reminds us that not only is she human but we all are. She writes about being a bad feminist, saying that:
I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying – trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in the world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself… (introduction, pg xi)
I definitely recommend reading Bad Feminist if you can, especially if you’re just starting to learn about the issues of race, misogyny, and others. Gay takes many very academic and often out of reach concepts and makes them easier to digest and understand, all while also writing about the Sweet Valley Confidential books and Tyler Perry movies. She makes you (or at least she made me) feel like it was finally okay to be human and to be messy in all our multitudes and contradictions.