bad feminist by roxanne gay at indigo
bad feminist quote by roxanne gay ' I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all."

Uncomfortable Topics

  • Eating disorders and body shame
  • Grooming by pedophiles
  • Rape – almost every other essay

*Note that Gay does discuss the relevancy of trigger warnings. But I think people need to be in the right mind frame when facing trauma and am done asking everyone to be tough.

Set the Scene

Publishing Year: 2014
Author Nationality: American

2013 saw the first Pope to retire from the Catholic church since 1415, and the Boston Marathon bombings are listed in with a number of other bombings around the world. Floods, fires, and an exploding asteroid over Russia all have big impacts.

The former Italian president Berlusconi goes to jail for abusing power and sleeping with an underage prostitute. The RCMP stop a planned Via Rail bombing suspected to be linked with Al-Queada.

2014 began in the midst of the Maidan Revolution in Kyiv. 130 protesters and 18 police officers were killed during the 4 months and ousted Yanukovych.

The year of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Flight 17, and the first year of same-sex marriages in the UK. There were more mudslides, bombings, fires, and tornadoes than I care to talk about.

In August, the “Fappening” targeted female celebs and leaked their nudes across the internet. Our American leaders were Obama and Biden, and Canadians voted in Trudeau.

About the Author

There is so much that we learn about from Roxanne Gay in Bad Feminist. She draws on personal experience and paints pictures quickly to engross you in the questions she asks.

Gay was a professor of English Lit at Eastern Illinois University until the publishing year of this book, and she briefly discussed racism in academics and the sheer joy she gets from engaging in nerdy pastimes.

She was an associate professor for creative writing at Perdue until 2018, and now she is a columnist for The Guardian and frequents events.

She is also very active on Instagram.

bad feminist quote by roxanne gay

The Story

This is not a book. As a collection of essays, there are so many stories told. Some are explored in more than one essay. Gay explores moving through her world as a woman, and the different ways that feminism has impacted her life.

What is Feminism?

Gay’s first essay is an introduction to feminism. It makes sense, and she is forgiving and acknowledges her learning. This essay should be required reading, and is the best place to start when trying to learn about feminism if you’ve never had an academic introduction.

Dissecting External Influences

Gay’s writing, and career, paint her out to be a very powerful woman. She has done a lot of work to get to where she is, and she artfully explains tough choices she had to make. Gay discusses how this book acknowledges that abiding to every rule there is to be a good woman or a good feminist would simply drive you crazy.

Bad Feminist by Roxanne gay is a book everyone should read, as everyone should see what thoughtful introspection looks like. This book gives words to feelings you may have had about media you consumed in passing but never thought to go back and explore.

She’s honest with herself about the ways the world has developed in blunt and humorous bite sized chunks to really help people understand how pervasive sexism still is.

Female Representation & Performing Femininity

For Gay, her childhood comfort series was Sweet Valley High. Mine was heartland, and in my late teens/early 20’s, Buffy. Buffy, for the time, was a pretty feminist icon, and she enjoyed performing femininity. The show only had Willow as more neutral icon, a (very powerful) gay witch.

Reading the Beauty Myth really changed how I prioritize my image and self care. If the feelings of ugly-ness and ‘green girl’ performing resonate with you, I suggest you read that next.

Gay, who is most definitely familiar with this iconic work, discusses the realization and forgiveness we need for ourselves as bad feminists to learn more and do the introspection work needed to actually heal.

My Take Aways

Laughing makes learning easier

I have been a feminist for as long as I could think. Before I new what the word was. I have a very analytical way of thinking and I speak out when I see something I don’t agree with. My dad always told me I could do anything.

But as the go-to voice for liberal thinking, the constant fight to be respected has grated on me to the point where I had to let go of friends I had outgrown. I don’t have any more room left to internalize microaggressions for my own survival in social circles.

Seeing voices talk about progressive thought and the need for peace and rest has helped me build more tolerance for myself, and helped me choose better friends.

Healing from our Childhoods

Everyone has things to heal from in their past. and through my self-healing journey, I’ve tried to take the time to be conscious about the media I consume.

As a marketer, I consume all types of media but the media I consume for my own joy has changed drastically in the last two years. Gay picking apart her favorite childhood series, or the popular girls at school helps me realize when feelings bubble up from something still a little unresolved.

The Importance of Making Yourself Heard

Humans are communal creatures, and storytellers. It’s painted throughout history,. We long to hear our stories and troubles echoed back to us. We like to know things will be okay, and if they are not, time will move on.

Understanding that you and your experiences are valued enough to be re-told and that others may find peace or comfort in that should inspire you to create. Something I think that is too heavily judged.

What to Read Next

If this is your first introduction to the feminist book club, welcome! You can read more about other titles I’ve covered here.

If you like essays, consider How to Pronounce Knife or the Beauty Myth. If you like the light stuff, consider reading Feminasty.

And if you have any good book recommendations, let me know in the comments below!