Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.
So I was searching for something to read in my arsenal of joy. (I mean, my home office library). And I came across an impulse purchase I had made at Barnes and Noble in Deerfield, IL. I remember: I was looking for something different. I was trying to broaden my horizons and read something that didn’t involve poetry or fiction about a vampire or a thing in the closet. That purchase was Bad Feminist by New York Times Best Selling author, Roxane Gay.
I heard too white women speaking about the author in hushed tones. The one who read the book said something to the effect of “I don’t understand why she is so mad.” I looked at the book and read the title in my head, “Bad Feminist”.
I had my own questions. If the author was so “angry”, was she using the book to chastise other women? Was she smacking the hand of younger, hungrier, women and making them stand in the grand pecking order of those who had burned bras before them? What had she said about the subject of feminism that hadn’t been regurgitated and spoon fed to me in college? I have been an angry black woman for most of my life, and personally for me, it has nothing to with “isms”, my femininity, or my skin color. I have never been or considered myself a feminist.
Well, I looked at the cover front to back and saw that Roxane Gay was in fact a black woman and a writer. And, if I wanted to have my questions answered, I’d have to read the book myself.
Chastise me not readers. Non fiction essays about “isms” aren’t my thing. However, it is her cunning use of brutal honesty with her words, that has me in awe of Roxane Gay and BAD FEMINIST. This is the book I needed to read in college. Not Germaine Greer or Mary Daly. This is the perspective I needed. Sorry, (not sorry) sad, but true.
Roxane breaks down the definition of feminism and expands it in such a way, that even my miseducated self understood.
Feminism (n.) is plural. It encompasses (or should) stories and/or truths that are less likely to be exposed to the wanton masses. But feminism is flawed, because those stories (stories of women of color, qeer women, and transgendered women) are often washed out, over or flatout ignored. Feminism is flawed because people are flawed.
We all see the world through the lenses of our own limited experiences; thus we fail to see the inherent humanity in one another.
In the introduction, Roxane Gay speaks of the danger of putting folks on pedestals. I’ll go further and say Feminists don’t belong on pedestals. Exalting one person over yourself or others in the same vein or struggle is never good. Likewise exhalting yourself over, others is never good either. In the words of Roxane: . . . I never want to be placed on a Feminist Pedestal. People who are placed on pedestals are expected to pose, perfectly. Then they get knocked off when they fuck it up. I regurlarly fuck it up. Consider me already knocked off. (x)
I am human and messy as well. So, reader you can consider me a bad feminist too.
I like gangster rap and alternative rock. I love Kevin Smith movies. I grew up in a christian household and still retain those values. I don’t have any home girls my age, never have. Most of my friends are guys because frankly I don’t trust women my age.
But, I love this book. Bad Feminist is a refreshing kick to my senses. And the slap to the face my fragile ego needed. I am going to keep reading this. I am learning to step out of myself and my own personal space on faith because of the ideas contained within it. And that just means (good or bad), I’m living my life. Happy New Year 2018.
roxane at roxanegay.com