Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay

bad feminist
Genre: Non-Fiction, Feminism 
Publisher: Harper Perennial

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

I’ll follow Roxane Gay anywhere. Her writing is powerful in that she’s straightforward and unapologetic in the message she’s conveying. I wish I could have rated Bad Feminist five stars, but I didn’t love every essay contained within. 

Bad Feminist features five parts that focus on different topics within the subject. Gay begins her collection with a few essays about herself then opens the discussion to gender and sexuality, race and entertainment, politics, gender and race, and, finally, concluding with essays about herself again. Within each of these subjects, there are fantastic essays that educated me, disgusted me, reaffirmed my beliefs, and had me laughing out loud. 

“It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away.”

Gay shines when she takes one or two popular books or movies and dissects it with her particular gaze and experience. She accomplished this spectacularly well with a novel that focuses on women’s weight and body image (Diana Spechler’s Skinny), The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, and The Help. On the other hand, Gay has a tendency to go too in-depth with lesser-known work being featured, so the essay begins to drag and read like a synopsis of the work rather than an analysis. 

Overall, Bad Feminist is a great collection of essays that examines what it means to be a feminist and how we don’t all fit the generic definition, so as Gay so succinctly put it: “I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.” 

Below, I’ve included the names of all the Essays I loved.

  • Reaching for Catharsis: Getting Fat Right (or Wrong) and Diana Spechler’s Skinny. 
  • The Careless Language of Sexual Violence. 
  • What We Hunger For 
  • The Illusion of Safety/The Safety of Illusion 
  • Some Jokes are Funnier Than Others 
  • Dear Young Ladies Who Love Chris Brown… 
  • Blurred Lines, Indeed 
  • The Trouble with Prince Charming… 
  • The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other Quaint Remembrances From 1960’s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help
  • Surviving Django
  • Beyond the Narrative Struggle
  • The Politics of Respectability
  • The Alienable Rights of Women


Have you read Bad Feminist? What did you think? Have you read anything else by Roxane Gay?


5 thoughts on “Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay

  1. I haven’t read this one, but I’m dying too! I really liked Difficult Women when I read it — Gay has such a compelling voice. It’s been ages since I read any non-fiction too, so I bet I’d devour an essay collection!

    1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Difficult Women, I haven’t read that one yet but it’s high on my TBR.
      Everything about her writing style speaks to me. Whatever has her name on it, I’ll read it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s