Friday, February 10, 2017

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (2014)

Bad Feminist was my book club book; we are meeting on Sunday to discuss it.  Gay is obviously political, but she's also funny in a sharp, biting way.  I liked her best when she was writing about race and gender in regard to popular culture; The Help rightly gets skewered, a book (and especially movie) that time has soured in my mind (my Goodreads review doesn't reflect that though).  The essay on Fifty Shades of Grey was masterful.  I also thought her essay on Tyler Perry was at the very least provocative,  highly readable and interesting.  Gay touches on all the academic points of gender and race that have swirled around in the last few years - rape culture, trigger warnings, entitlement, microagressions.  I'm a white gay man; I will go down those paths with her, but I'm not doing to debate their cause and effects, other than to agree with her that they are challenges to modern society.  I have a very good (white, female) friend who loves to troll about gender and race.  I will spar with her about gender sometimes; about race, I I always shut the hell up.  I was brought up to never, ever mention someone's race; we are all the same, and should be treated that way.  Modern society, and modern youth, love the fuck out of not only talking about it, but baiting about it too.   It makes me uncomfortable.  Thus, large portions of Roxane Gay's book made me uncomfortable too.

Bad FeministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The essays of Roxane Gay are biting, sharp, humorous, academic without being boring, occasionally horrifying, often moving, and almost all quite engaging. The stuff I liked the best were about pop culture in regards to gender and race. She takes on The HelpThe Help and Fifty Shades of Grey, and most provocatively, Tyler Perry. She loves Sweet Valley High and Scrabble, two other essays I enjoyed. She also, often, made me extremely uncomfortable.

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