Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay, contains a brilliant collection of essays that range in scope and topic from competitive Scrabble in a small Midwestern town to the film Fruitvale Station, to myriad issues in politics, media, and personal life relating to language, race, gender, and through it all picking apart how intricately it’s all woven together. Gay writes with both eloquence and straight-forward articulation about issues that are, frankly, hard to talk about. I want to take her remarks on heroism to heart, so I’ll just express that she goes far beyond being a Bad Feminist. Although, now that I recall her remarks on the title I don’t want to even seem to deny that title to her either. I guess what’s happening is I found her observations and arguments so compelling that I’m reconsidering the way in which I respond to the collection, since I want to get it right. Roxane Gay writes it right.
On any particular topic, Bad Feminist addresses the nuances and complexities with clarity. There is no need or desire on behalf of Gay to reach a tidy solution either, which is refreshing in that so many other writers and articles feel this desire to “figure it out,” and acknowledging that that’s impossible (for example, in “A Take of Two Profiles” which examines both Trayvon Martin and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev). Roxane Gay doesn’t leave anything out, just considers the information in an elegant, cohesive way. Having honed her skills on Twitter, Gay is also a master of the pithy line, which so often stopped me as the reader right in my tracks. Nothing is left out, and she’s as quick to express what she likes as what she feels deserves to be called out. I liked movies and books she didn’t, and didn’t like some things she did, but yet I appreciated everything she wrote. It becomes clear early on that every topic is considered carefully and fully, and I look forwards to hearing more.