Here’s a little secret you may not know about me. I LOVE WORDS. Weird, right? And Bad Feminist was full of words and phrases that I wish I could high five and befriend. There were times while I was reading that I burst out laughing and others where I shook my head as I held back tears. There aren’t enough words to express how much I appreciate a writer that can make me emote, and Roxane Gay is a prime example of one. She was also able to articulate so many thought-provoking assertions in such an eloquent way, leaving me utterly impressed by her talent, skill, and brutal honesty. The thoughts that she expressed are ones that I’ve had before, but was unable to find such a composed way of conveying.
There is now a huge, not-so-secret part of me that wants Gay to recognize me on Twitter and somehow become my new best friend. I want to sit with her and roll my eyes at terrible movies and just vent about what’s bugging me lately in the world. I identified with so much of what she thinks and has experienced, and when I couldn’t personally relate, she still made it coherent and accessible.
Every woman has a series of episodes about her twenties, her girlhood, and how she came out of it. Rarely are those episodes so neatly encapsulated as an episode of, say, Friends, or a romantic comedy about boy meeting girl.
I can’t express how reassuring it is to hear someone complain about how difficult and stressful their 20s were, for instance. I had NO IDEA what I was getting into once I graduated college. My parents and all my aunts and uncles met in high school, got married in their early 20s, then moved into houses with mortgages by my age now. Not only is that absurd, but that’s unrealistic—not that I knew that growing up, though. This was the example I had to grow up alongside, so imagine my anxiety when life wasn’t that easy come the end of my educational career.
After finishing the book, I feel a bit more jaded but also way more aware. I’ve always felt like I fell a little short on the feminism spectrum since I hadn’t studied the classics and I probably can’t name many of the women who made important strides in the movement. There was a part of me that didn’t feel qualified to assert my voice and opinions in conversations revolving around gender equality. However, this book reassured me that the feelings I have are justified and worth having—I feel totally reinvigorated in my feminism.
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 things. 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.
(I absolutely LOVE this quote! It is the perfect example of Gay’s clever writing and honest perspective.)
Most importantly Bad Feminist made me mad. I’m mad that we, as women, have to deal with so much nonsense still. I’m mad that myself and other qualified, impressive women aren’t paid nearly what we deserve in comparison to our male coworkers. I’m mad that our culture glamorizes sexual harassment and inequality, making it seem like those of us who demand respect are “wrong” or “too radical” or “cold-hearted.” I’m mad that if I get catcalled or inappropriately touched, then my clothing or way I carry myself is to blame. I’m mad, and I’m sick of letting it happen or risk being coined the token “bitch” of the group if I refuse to go along with it. Misogyny is a big joke to most of our society where everyone goes along with it, and if you’re offended then you’re told to relax and just laugh because it’s a joke after all. Well I’m done pretending I’m relaxed, and I’m done trying to be on the inside of a joke that I don’t even find funny.
This book is an important reminder that there is still A LOT of room for improvement in regards to gender equality in this country. We live in a progressive country that still fosters so much negativity and absurd gender biases. The realization that equality is worth fighting for and I’m worth fighting for has become rekindled upon reading Bad Feminist, and I’m so happy it’s reawoken this in me.