BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay (part 1)

Bad Feminist I read this book ages ago, and I’ve had two or three drafts with quotes from it sitting in my WordPress queue ever since. I keep thinking I need to add my own reactions or thoughts like I usually do, but whenever try to do so, I find myself thinking that Roxane Gay’s words are pretty close to perfect, and thus much more impactful on their own.

Feminism has helped me believed my voice matters, even in this world where there are so many voices demanding to be heard. (x)

I believe women not just in the United States but throughout the world deserve equality and freedom but know I am in no position to tell women of other cultures what that equality and freedom should look like. (xii)

Discussions about gender are often framed as either/or propositions. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, or so we are told, as if this means we’re all so different it is nigh impossible to reach each other. The way we talk about gender makes it easy to forget Mars and Venus are part of the same solar system, divided only by one planet, held in the thrall of the same sun. (96)

Disagreement, however, is not anger. Pointing out the many ways in which misogyny persists and harms women is not anger. Conceding the idea that anger is an inappropriate reaction to the injustice women face backs women into an unfair position. Nor does disagreement mean we are blind to the ways in which progress has been made. Feminists are celebrating our victories and acknowledging our privilege when we have it. We’re simply refusing to settle. We’re refusing to forget how much work there is yet to be done. We’re refusing to relish the comforts we have at the expense of women who are still seeking comfort. (102)

It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining thing. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly. (189)

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  1. I think there are a couple of problems with the men/women Mars/Venus thing.

    One is the point made by Brian Buckley over here: (you’ll have to scroll down a bit)

    The other is the fact that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine that the question of gender is all that binary in the first place. Mercury, Venus, all the way through Pluto, plus moons, asteroids, comets and the rings of Saturn. Lots of different ways to be.

    So, i guess there’s a Part Two coming? :-)

    • Yeah, sounds like Buckley and Gay are saying basically the same thing: men and women (and any other gender) stand on a lot more common ground than conventional wisdom likes to think. We’re all human in the end, after all.

      Yes, haha, there is a part 2 coming. These were all the feminism-related quotes, basically. The next ones will be less thematic, but hopefully still thought-provoking and/or resonant.

  2. I’ve wanted to read this book since I saw her at AWP in Minneapolis last year. I read An Untamed State and it was fantastic. Have you read it? It’s being made into a movie.

    • No, I haven’t, but I’m glad to hear it was a good read, because I’ve been curious about it! (It sounded a bit heavy for my me right now, though…?) And I had no idea it was going to be a movie!

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