Episode 56: Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist

The Book

Bad Feminist: Essays is a 2014 collection of essays by writer and professor Roxane Gay. Bad Feminist explores the intersection of being a feminist with loving things that at times seem to contradict feminist ideology. Gay’s essays discuss pop culture and her personal experiences, especially her upbringing as a Haitian-American. She describes the book here: “In each of these essays, I’m very much trying to show how feminism influences my life for better or worse. It just shows what it’s like to move through the world as a woman. It’s not even about feminism per se, it’s about humanity and empathy.”

​​“I am a bad feminist because I never want to be placed on a Feminist Pedestal. People who are placed on pedestals are expected to pose, perfectly. Then they get knocked off when they f*ck it up. I regularly f*ck up. Consider me already knocked off.”

The Author

Roxane Gay was born in 1974, in Nebraska, to Haitian parents. She earned her Master’s degree with an emphasis in creative writing, and her PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication. Gay began her academic teaching career as a assistant professor of English in 2010. While at Eastern Illinois University, she was a contributing editor for Bluestem magazine, and founded Tiny Hardcore Press. She has also been an associate professor of creative writing in the Master of Fine Arts program at Purdue, and in 2019 started as a visiting professor at Yale. Gay is a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times, and has published several short story collections, a novel, a 2017 memoir called Hunger, and Bad Feminist, which is an award-winning collection of essays.

“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 the women who are still seeking comfort.”

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay

Our Guest

Setareh Greenwood

Setareh Greenwood (she/they) is a queer Iranian-American from the California Bay Area. She is currently a first-year student at Mount Holyoke College considering majoring in sociology with a minor in music. Setareh is interested in studying queer theory, social psychology, and literature. She also enjoys painting, Shakespeare, and writing mediocre poetry.

“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 by only one planet, held in the thrall of the same sun.”

-Roxane Gay

Amy’s Takeaways

Roxane Gay tells it like it is. I so appreciated her candor when talking about privilege. I was secretly grateful for her admission that she sometimes listens to music with misogynistic lyrics (I still have some Eminem and Led Zeppelin on my running playlist that I am having a hard time deleting.) I appreciated her discussion of Disney princesses and Twilight. She’s a public intellectual who sees the truth like an oracle, but she talks like a friend or a sister in her PJ’s on the couch, enabling us all to relate and to learn and to take steps forward, wherever we are.

“All too often, when we see injustices, both great and small, we think, That’s terrible, but we do nothing. We say nothing. We let other people fight their own battles. We remain silent because silence is easier. Qui tacet consentire videtur is Latin for ‘Silence gives consent.’ When we say nothing, when we do nothing, we are consenting to these trespasses against us.”

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