Review: Bad Feminist

Book Reviews, Culture

Bad-FeministAs one reviewer put it, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay is the book you can’t possibly not have an opinion about.

The essay collection is a tribute to female imperfection. Roxane Gay’s writing is honest, funny, self-conscious, and enlightening.

When women respond negatively to misogynistic or rape humor, they are “sensitive” and branded as “feminist”, a word that has, as of late, become a catchall term for “woman who doesn’t tolerate bullshit”

From Katniss Everdeen to female author publishing, from the issues of abortion and violence against women to the demographic limitations of modern feminism rhetorics, Bad Feminist, is beyond doubt one of the best works of non-fiction of the recent years. What I found particularly troubling, are Roxane Gay’s points on rape and the discourse by some politicians to legitimize the violation of the female body. A striking example – Gay talks of a gang-rape case involving a child, and the fact that some journalists have stressed the fact that the rapists’ lives would be destroyed by the sentencing, and speak little of the victim whose life is forever-scarred…

Overall, Bad Feminist is a great read. Flawed, but fascinating at the same time.

And now, to the bad points. What I most certainly didn’t like about this book is the fact that, unfortunately, in some instances, the author’s perspective is biased and extraordinarily culturally limited (essay on Boston bombings, in the latter case).

It is the essay on the Help that started to tear apart the positive image of the book. As Roxane Gay proceeded to trash what remains one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed films and books on the tensions in American South, I could only think of Tolkien. Why Tolkien, you may ask? Because he could not possibly stand that the Lord of the Rings would be interpreted as the fight of the Allies against Hitler. For him, it was Sauron vs. the alliance of the forces of good. That’s it.

… the narrative leads you to believe that Celia indirectly empowers Minny to leave her abusive husband, as if a woman of Minny’s strength and character couldn’t do that on her own.

Allegories only exist where the authors say they exist, not every plot point has hidden intent, which Roxane Gay alleges to exist. Love makes strong women weak, and the author’s “as if” in this context is purely inappropriate. Moreover, I may not be an expert on 1960s Alabama, but bear with me, having the audacity to claim intent, where there may not necessarily have been one – in the case of this essay – is just plain bitter, biased and vile. At least, Roxane Gay bothers to admit her real problem with the Help in the text of the essay, which only confirms the previous point.

Overall note: 3,5


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