Review by:

Janessa Boley

Iowa State University

[email protected]

Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist is a compilation of essays where she explains what it means to be a “bad feminist.”  Roxane Gay has coined the term “bad feminist” because she believes that there are multiple levels of feminism and it is OK to not be an extremist if you want to be a feminist.  If one wants to learn more about being a “feminist” or “feminism,” Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay is a good starting point.

The book is broken down into three different parts.  These three parts show the intersectionality of levels diversity and how they relate to feminism.  In the first part, we learn more about the author, where she comes from, and why she has coined this term “bad feminist.”  Then, Gay moves forward to address some of the more difficult issues.  In her section titled “Gender and Sexuality,” Gay shows how women are portrayed in multiple types of media.  She addresses the gender stereotype for women and how it is still in need of attention.  She also discusses how we, as women, are expected to act based on this stereotype.  While doing all of this, she brings in the “bad feminist” aspect again; stating that although she knows there is gender stereotyping, she still enjoys being a women and liking feminine things.

We then move into the topic: “Race and Entertainment.”  Throughout this section, Gay breaks down a variety of different, recent movies and how they portrayed race.  Most of the time, you will see her disappointment at how this is portrayed for both men and women and how it pertains to different races and ethnicities.  By going through this section, I was brought to the realization that even though there are more movies that bring race to the forefront, they do not do this accurately or effectively.  By reading her breakdown of the movies, it was easy to see how we as a society, settle on the inaccurate portrayal of diversity for entertainment value.

Lastly, we are brought to the topic: “Politics, Gender, and Race.”  Roxane Gay points out that we have seen great strives that women have made throughout history.  Saying this, there is still more that can be done.  Since there are many different layers of diversity, we all hold a bias—whether big or small—against one of them.  Since we are human, this does happen, but being able to recognize this and know where the line needs to be drawn is important.  In politics, including celebrities, there are statements that are allowed to be made and are brushed under the rug time and time again.  Roxane Gay does not shy away from these hard to address topics—she embraces them.

As an advisor, this book was a valuable read.  With topics of diversity surrounding higher education, this information can be applied into our work with students.  We can help portray and implement other ideas and programs to help students realize that there is more to diversity and the issues surrounding it than what the media portrays.  I would recommend this book to other advisors as I have learned a lot, but it would not be in my top ten to read.  This book was strong in addressing the issues of diversity through gender equality, but sometimes felt redundant with points being made.  Overall, Bad Feminist was an excellent book to read and I would recommend it to other advisors.  

Bad Feminist. (2014). Roxanne Gay, HarperCollins Publisher. 336 pp., $15.99, (Paperback), ISBN #978-0-06-228271-2, https://harpercollins.com/9780062282712/bad-feminist.

Posted in: 2016 Book Reviews
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