Saturday, Mar 12, 2016
Immediately after finishing the downloadable audiobook of Bad Feminist, crisply narrated by the inestimable Bahni Turpin, I placed the print book on hold. There are just too many interesting, important and often hilarious moments to absorb in one go. Turpin's reading is too good to pass up, so I wholeheartedly recommend the audiobook, but on this second time through, I'd like the luxury of reading and then rereading those paragraphs that give me the most to think about.
Roxane Gay is both a fiction writer and an essayist, as well as a social media cultural commentator. Bad Feminist was my first exposure to her writing, although soon after I began it, I found her on Twitter and Tumblr, as well as watching her Ted Talk. Her essays in this book cover such diverse topics as competitive Scrabble, teaching college classes, the racist and misogynist threads that run through many popular books and movies, and the difficulty of being an imperfect feminist who listens to appallingly sexist music and enjoys the occasional objectification. Throughout, readers will understand Gay is not trying to tell them how to be this or that, or what to think - like so many essayists (and fellow humans) do. Rather, she explores the diverse and often discordant ways we all exist in the world, acknowledging the complexity of the human experience while never losing her dry and often laugh-out-loud humor. Yes, this is one of those audiobooks that, if you're listening on headphones, will make the people around you slightly disconcerted as you giggle away.
Her essays are so deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking, on such a variety of topics, that there is no summing them up (at least not for someone less talented than Gay herself). Suffice it to say: if you enjoy turning a critical eye toward our often problematic popular culture, but would like to laugh as you do so, this book is for you.