By: Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay has been one of those writers where I’m always like, “I really want to but maybe next time…” When I finally actually looked at Bad Feminist and saw it was a lot about culture and pop culture I jumped at the chance to read it. I’m very much interested in the ways pop culture reflects the state of our world and the way we react to it.
Needless to say there was a lot in this book that I enjoyed.
First of all the basics. The book is well-written. Gay is a funny and highly relatable writer and even better I’ve heard of (and partaken in) all pop culture stuff she talks about! So yeah! She talks about enjoying things like The Hunger Games and the Sweet Valley High book series
One of the things that struck me most was actually when she talked about her feminism though it’s a theme throughout the book. She talks about how she feels like a bad feminist because she’s a contradiction even to herself sometimes. She loves to listen to some music even though she cringes at the lyrics. She would rather men do some chores. She likes pink.
I really related to this in terms of how we approach and talk about certain things within pop culture these days and how we berate others or simply write them off because they like or don’t like certain things. And how we tend to let our opinions on art color our opinions and interactions with people, especially on-line. Art might be subjective but I think people tend to get so passionate they just forget that point. Just because you don’t like a movie doesn’t mean there’s no value in it for someone else and just because someone doesn’t like something you loved doesn’t make them evil or stupid.
Fifty Shades of Gray is a great example and one that I know is often talked about. I think the many problems with those books have been well documented. But maybe if we could just bring ourselves to admit and accept the appeal we could understand the success of them even more instead of just writing off the people who liked and read them as stupid or harming women?
Maybe that’s not the best example.
On top of that I think there’s a general almost knee jerk tendency to apologize for liking certain things. If you like Negan on The Walking Dead- I don’t think it requires a dissertation on all the reasons he’s bad and you know it. More power to you. (Although I have to admit I feel differently about the Negan fans who will argue to the death that he’s a great leader or the definition of rape but that’s a whole different story and does smack of endorsing his vile behavior.)
And I think if you want to draw a line in the sand that’s acceptable to. Gay recently wrote about the new episodes of Roseanne and that while they might be funny she just can’t bring herself to support the show. I also loved watching reruns of the original show. I haven’t watched the new ones yet and don’t know if I will or won’t. It’s not a political thing because I’m pretty good at separating that stuff but I thought I’d at least try them, just a time thing really. But I greatly appreciated the measured way in which Gay wrote about it.
So this turned into a Monday ramble. Long story short we should accept our own contradictions as well as others. Everyone responds to art in a different way. There are times when something might appeal to me and I can’t even really explain it. Although I must admit usually when I don’t like something I can explain that.
I enjoyed Bad Feminist and would be interested in reading more of Roxane Gay in the future. I also think if you’ve wanted to give her a try it’s a good place to start.