A bit more about Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist."
12 December 2018
Well, I have finished as much as I am going to of Roxane Gay's essay collection Bad Feminist.
We've already had a bit of discussion on this book, and I think we're all agreed that the entire collection could have been edited a bit better (the book is 320 pages long and honestly, I think it could have been trimmed a bit, both in terms of tightening up each essay and also leaving a few out). I think we're also agreed that the book got a lot (perhaps too much?) press; and although I'm often the first to be completely bugged by a book that is overhyped, mostly that bothers me when I don't think such a book merited the hype at all. Does that make sense?
That was not the case (for me) with this collection. I've not read every single last page of the book, but what I did read in it often made me think, or helped me see things from a different angle. It even gave me moments when I could give what I call "snorts of angry sisterhood laughter."*
As for seeing some things differently? There is her essay "What We Hunger For." Here is some of it:
"When I was in middle school, when I was young--old enough to like a boy but young enough to have no clue what that meant--there was a boy who I thought was my boyfriend and who said he was my boyfriend but who also completely ignored me at school. It's a sad, silly story lots of girls know...
When we were together, he'd tell me what he wanted to do to me. He wasn't asking permission. I was not an unwilling participant. I was not a willing participant. I felt nothing one way or the other. I wanted him to love me. I wanted to make him happy. If doing things to my body made him happy, I would let him do anything to my body. My body was nothing to me. It was just meat and bones around that void he filled by touching me. Technically, we didn't have sex, but we did everything else. The more I gave, the more he took. At school, he continued looking right through me. I was dying but I was happy. I was happy because he was happy, because if I gave enough, he might love me. As an adult, I don't understand how I allowed him to treat me like that. I don't understand how he could be so terrible. I don't understand how desperately I sacrificed myself. I was young." (p. 142.)
There is not really a happy ending to that story. But you should go and read that essay. I'm going to re-read it periodically because it is an unbelievably good essay. I'm going to re-read it periodically to remind myself how important it is that I try to raise the CRjrs to grow up to be people who won't take what women (or anyone) might be desperately sacrificing themselves to give.
Yeah. Hype and all. I liked the book, and I like Roxane Gay.
*One such moment: in her essay "The Alienable Rights of Women," there is this paragraph: "If I told you my birth control method of choice, which I kind of swear by, you'd look at me like I was slightly insane. Suffice it to say, I will take a pill every day when men have that same option. We should all be in this together, right? One of my favorite moments is when a guy, at that certain point in a relationship, says something desperately hopeful like, 'Are you on the pill?' I simply say, 'No, are you?"
To that paragraph I say: AMEN SISTER. I have been waiting for what feels like an eternity to find one other woman to speak this idea aloud. And now I've found her. No matter what else she does I'll love her forever for that paragraph.