Hey darlings! It's time for June's Boss Babe Book Club discussion post of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
I was really looking forward to this read because it's been sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time now. Plus, when I initially posted the book to Instagram, announcing that we would be reading Bad Feminist... an overwhelming majority of you said you loved it! Yay! I was downright giddy to start reading. But here's the problem...I hated the book. In fact, I didn't even finish reading it. I got about halfway through before I finally put it down; resolving that I didn't want to waste any more of my time trudging away at some book that I absolutely hated. So why is there such a huge disconnect between by thoughts on the book and the rave review it received from all of you on Instagram? I turned to my business partner of XOMarshmallow, Kat, to help me a bit with this one.
Why do I hate the book?
I disliked the book for the same reason that I originally liked it...approachability. When I read the first chapter of Bad Feminist, I thought "YES! Yes, this woman GETS it!" Roxane Gay was talking about what it's like to be a feminist in the modern day; to not fully agree with the "academic feminists" or the stereotypical definition we often hear in the media of the "man hating, no makeup wearing, hates married women feminists". Gay talked about what it was like to want equal rights for women while loving to wear makeup and loving men. She talked about how she's a feminist, but that it's okay to make mistakes (ex: loving and singing a rap song with clearly degrading lyrics). But after the first chapter, Roxane seems to take a 180 turn, at least in terms of approachability. She makes references that even extremely educated and academic women wouldn't get. She speaks in an incredibly high-brow manner and seems to distain anything feminist that doesn't have academic roots (i.e. HBO's Girls). There is nothing wrong with being academic or speaking in a profoundly intellectual way, but Gay had an opportunity here to speak to the masses...to talk about being a modern day feminist to the every-girl and failed. She talks about academic feminists and how they are not someone she relates to, and she tries to position herself and someone who is feminist, but rebels against making feminism seem like a thing only available to those in power....and yet, that's exactly who she comes across as (in my opinion, of course).
Why does it seem like a lot of women like the book?
Now, if I hate the book because it's completely unapproachable and fails to reach the modern day, lay feminist...then why do so many people seem to love it (or at least say they do)? Kat and I discussed this disconnect in length at our most recent meaning and came up with a two-fold answer. One reason -- we say we like it because we are supposed to like it/want to like it. The first chapter is so compelling that we WANT to like the book. Plus, when a book called something amazing as Bad Feminist is both a New York Times Bestseller and pink...it's hard to not love it. As a modern day feminist, I WANT to love a book about modern day feminism; but not if I don't understand it or like it. I feel like people say they like the book because they WANT to like it and don't want to admit that it just didn't do what it should have. And reason number two -- people don't want to admit that they don't "get" it. The book makes references I've never heard of and discusses studies like we are already supposed to know about them. Admitting that you don't know something or that you don't understand a book that is clearly on a high intellectual level is hard...and most of us don't want to do it.
Ultimately, while I agree with the overall mission of the book (and the entire first chapter about the definition of a bad feminist), I hope that Roxane Gay (or someone) can create a book with a similar purpose that feels more approachable. Truly, it's less that I hated the book and more that I was profoundly disappointed by it. I'm starved for a witty book about the modern day feminist written for the every-girl and perhaps by the every-girl. Maybe I'll have to write it myself, I don't know, but I certainly hope someone does soon.
Don't forget to tag pictures of you participating in the boss babe book club on Instagram using the hashtag #bossbabebookclub and #readlikeaboss! This month we are doing a special contest! Everyone who tags a photo using the hashtag #bossbabebookclub will be entered into a drawing to win the next month's book FREE!
Previous Boss Babe Book Club Reads