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Bad Feminist
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Archive: Other Books > Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay: 2 stars :(

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message 1: by Joi (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3774 comments I feel bad for rating this lowly. I WANTED to like this more. It might be partly because I'm not the biggest fan of the essay format. It might because I didn't care about most her pop culture references. It might be I'm reading this too late after it was published. Or a combination of things. I never really "got into" this book, and I felt like I had to slog through just to finish. It's clear Roxane Gay has a big, fun, personality, with lots of opinions, she seems like a good writer, but this never came together for me.

This book followed one main structure.
-This essay will be about topic X
-Introduce topic X, and reference a pop culture movie/book/tv/show/story/whatnot where X is a main focus
-Explain the plot of pop culture reference, and show how topic X is relevant to it
-Shit on the pop culture reference, because they are not representing X properly
-Have some statistical facts about X, and state facts about X has an overall topic.
-Admit that she loves the pop culture reference regardless, as a guilty pleasure

This structure was problematic for me for many reasons.
A) I didn't know about many of her pop culture references. Even the ones I did know (Hunger Games, 50 Shades, even Paula Deen,) she somehow made it a slog to read about.
B) The facts and stats are great, but just stated. There is not an ongoing continuation of where this could lead, what could be done better, or any sort of analysis or suggestion- just statements.
D) The back and forth of "this is bad- but it's ok because I still like it" just seems to defeat the purpose.

I'm not sure if I'd read another of Gay's works. I can tell she's a good writer, I've heard SUCH good things about Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. The beginning sections, she is open, vulnerable, telling stories of her own life and memoir-like stories and snippets. This was clearly the winner of the book, and maybe set up the rest to be a disappointment for me. (Also why I think Hunger might be a better fit for me). A lot of the essays felt like rambling, however she definitely is funny, finds humor within dark topics. The bad news- I didn't feel like I learned anything from this about feminism, or any other of the BIG topics she tried to tackle.

message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments What a shame. I have read Hunger, and despite generally not enjoying memoirs I was glad to have read it. I gave it five at the time, but in the rearview mirror I think it was more like a four.

message 3: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3029 comments I haven't read any of her books but her book reviews are so good. I aspire to write book reviews like her - clear and concise and perfectly capture her impressions of a book.

I like her personality (on Twitter) too. Clap backs and general "fuck you" attitude. But like all people, she is not infallible. I just read a recent interview where she says she doesn't spend a lot of time with men because they are overly emotional and insecure (or something) which I thought was really strange... any sweeping statements about a group of people like that does no good, but I'll forgive her this transgression because some days I hate all men too ;) (except my husband because he is a sweetheart)

message 4: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments She is unapologetic. I love that about her. Having read Hunger I get why she has that opinion about men. She was gang raped at the age of 12.

message 5: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3029 comments Susie wrote: "She is unapologetic. I love that about her. Having read Hunger I get why she has that opinion about men. She was gang raped at the age of 12."

I had read that, and it is truly horrific.

Unfortunately you hear similar excuses from racists... I was robbed / jumped / raped by a black person they are all bad. It's a dangerous mindset to get into.

At the same time, this short quote was totally out of context so I am sure there was more to it. She is, in general, a very insightful and intelligent critic of society and culture.

message 6: by Joi (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3774 comments She did write briefly about the gang rape in this. As I mentioned, her "memoir" section (the first part) of this book was obviously the strongest part, and would make me consider reading Hunger, as all I've heard is rave reviews about that one.

I can see her making a really great podcast (maybe she has one? I don't know) as her work seems to be the best in short spurts (ie her Tumbr). Her takes are interesting, I just felt this book needed more analysis and less referencing random things.

message 7: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments Yes, I agree it can be a dangerous mindset. I suppose logic can fall by the wayside when trauma is involved. I do agree too that she is generally thoughtful and intelligent, and you never know how a conversation went down when all you are getting are soundbites. Joi, I feel as though you would find some merit in Hunger.

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