Bad Feminist, a book of essays by Roxane Gay, appeared at my doorstep magically. Okay, not magically, but as a surprise gift from my friend Cristina. She told me about the book over email and asked me if I was interested in reading it, and having a two-person book club with her. I was. The book appeared a few days later, which I wasn’t expecting.
I didn’t know Roxane’s (if I may) work before finding the book in my hands. Cristina is good at that, introducing websites and authors and shows that are speeding by while I’m looking at hummingbirds out the window or old British crime dramas. I’d like to attribute this to her living in LA and me living in a small town, but even when I lived in LA this was the case. She’s up on it.
Bad Feminist is about as good as it gets for me. It’s one of those reading experiences that says all of the things you’ve been feeling for so long but had either begun to doubt or had given up on putting into words. It’s liberating, it’s comforting, it’s complex. It doesn’t try to solve, but instead, acknowledge. It’s powerful.
Since beginning to write in this public universe known as the internet, I’ve been afraid of really putting it out there. I still don’t in many significant ways. I don’t think that will ever be me. But I am grateful to those who do put it out there, because it’s very scary.
So, it seems, can be calling yourself a feminist. Now, I’ve never backed away from this claim in person, in conversation, in since forever. But my shit was freaked out about making this claim online. I wasn’t only afraid of haters, but also of other feminists. Maybe they’d take one look and decide that I couldn’t rightly be a “feminist” loud and proud like I wanted to. Perhaps the movement was beyond what I first identified with, maybe it was rooted in new theory with new demands that I was cluelessly shirking. I knew that no one is afraid to tell you when you’ve got it wrong online. And that was scary.
I’d rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all. – Roxane Gay
Then I read Roxane. Ms Gay. Ms Bey. Her words were both comforting and rousing. I had a memorable, rage-full drive listening to Rage Against the Machine a few times while in the midst of her book. And I was grateful for it. For the connection to something so real, to a voice so human. It even inspired me to bottom line my writing as “feminist coming of age stories” which I don’t believe is reductionist, but maybe it is.
I’ve since bought a few copies of Bad Feminist and given them away to keep the gift going. Thank you, Cristina. Thank you, Roxane.
Inspired by the Daily Post.