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July 31, 2017 | by  | in Books |
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Bad Feminist — Roxane Gay

At the beginning of her book, Roxane Gay defines herself as a “Bad Feminist”, displacing any need to be the “perfect feminist”, and removing the right of people to judge or question her feminism. As a millennial who is guilty of consuming many hours’ worth of television shows with questionable themes towards women, this is something that pulled me in, which I’m sure is what she was aiming for.

Gay writes a series of essays, all relating to feminism, organised by categories such as “Gender and Sexuality”, “Politics, Gender & Race”, and simply “Race & Entertainment”. She tells stories from her 39 years of life that frame her feminist opinions, as well as criticising mainstream media’s representation of women, and the politicisation of women’s healthcare. As a Black woman in the US who at times has identified as queer, Gay’s feminism is one that focuses a lot on how Black women have been treated and represented in popular media, slamming mainstream movies and television shows such as The Help, 12 Years a Slave, and Orange is the New Black for their lack of appropriate representation of Black women.

Gay’s complex disagreement with the notion of “trigger warnings” is communicated not only explicitly, but also in the way she discusses topics such as rape, including the story of her own at the age of 12 which she discusses in one of the heavier chapters of the book. It is these stories of her own experiences that frame the book, enabling the reader to understand her type of feminism, and the reasons behind her strong opinions.

Although Gay’s feminist ideas can be very specific to her own culture and experiences, they force the reader to think about how feminism is understood by those in marginalised groups, even if they do not personally feel the same way. I would recommend this book to any person who cares about female representation in media, women’s reproductive rights, and fighting rape culture, and, frankly, especially to those who don’t.

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