I just read Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, and strongly, strongly recommend this book. It will make you think, it might make you intensely uncomfortable, but Gay brings up many good points, and even if you don’t always agree with her, the fact that she’s talking about so many important conversations and will make you think about those conversations makes this book well worth reading.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed. For whatever reason, we hold feminism to an unreasonable standard where the movement must be everything we want and must always make the best choices. When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.”
-“Introduction” p. x
“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers…trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world…while also being myself: a woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, she knows, is terrible for women and who sometimes plays dumb with the repairmen because it’s just easier to let them feel macho than it is to stand on the moral high ground.”
-“Introduction” p. xi
Really, the entire Introduction is amazing.
“In many ways, likability is a very elaborate lie, a performance, a code of conduct dictating the proper way to be… Unlikable is a fluid designation that can be applied to any character who doesn’t behave in a way the reader finds palatable.”
-“Not Here to Make Friends” p. 85
“In literature, as in life, the rules are all too often different for girls… An unlikable man is inscrutably interesting, dark, or tormented, but ultimately compelling, even when he might behave in distasteful ways… When women are unlikable, it becomes a point of obsession in critical conversation by professional and amateur critics alike… Why aren’t they making themselves likable (and therefore acceptable) to polite society?”
-“Not Here to Make Friends” p. 88
“This is what is so rarely said about unlikable women in fiction – that they aren’t pretending, that they won’t or can’t pretend to be someone they are not. They have neither the energy nor the desire for it.”
-“Not Here to Make Friends” p. 95
“This is a baffling statement because there is imply no reality where the phrase ‘strident feminist’ can be reasonably compared to the N-word. I am fascinated by the silence surrounding this statement, how people will turn a blind eye to casual racism for the sake of funny feminism.”
-“How We All Lose” p. 104
“We talk about rape, but we don’t carefully talk about rape.”
-“The Careless Language of Sexual Violence” p. 132
“You’d be amazed what people are willing to do when they are given permission, either implicitly or explicitly.”
-“Some Jokes Are Funnier Than Others” p. 179
“The thing about fairy tales is that the princess finds her prince, but there’s usually a price t pay. A compromise is required for happily ever after. The woman in the fairy tale is generally the one who pays the price. This seems to be the nature of sacrifice.”
-“The Trouble with Prince Charming” p. 193
In fact, the entire essay “The Trouble with Prince Charming” is great. Amusing and poignant. #readit
“We hold all people to unspoken rules about who and how they should be, how they should think, and what they should say. We say we hate stereotypes but take issue when people deviate from those stereotypes. Men don’t cry. Feminists don’t shave their legs. Southerners are racist.”
-“The Politics of Respectability” p. 257
“…even in this day and age, the rights of women are not inalienable. Our rights can be and are, with alarming regularity, stripped away.”
-“The Alienable Rights of Women” p. 273
“Then, of course, there is the problem of those women who want to, perhaps, avoid the pregnancy question altogether by availing themselves of birth control with the privacy and dignity and affordability that should also be inalienable.
Or, according to some, whores.”
-“The Alienable Rights of Women” p. 274
“We are having inexplicable conversations about birth control, conversations where women must justify why they are taking birth control, conversations where a congressional hearing on birth control includes no women because the men in power are well aware that women don’t need to be included in the conversation. We don’t have inalienable rights the way men do.”
-“The Alienable Rights of Women” p. 275
All quotes are derived from the following work:
Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist: Essays. First ed. New York: Harper Perennial, 2014. Print.