I have identified myself as a feminist since I was about 18. Am I a good feminist? I never thought about it until I read Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist last year. In the end, I still can’t answer the question and I don’t care if I am a good one or a bad one. I am a feminist and that is all that matters.
Gay isn’t using her book to judge, but to work through her own concerns about being a good or bad feminist herself. This is a collection of essays on her place in the world and what it means to be a feminist. She reveals a lot about herself from her own traumas to her love of Sweet Valley High. The later is what made me adore her.
I am often struck, and will talk about this more on Friday, when I realize how often I compare myself to people I read about in books. It doesn’t matter if the person is fictional or real. I often understand myself better when I am compared to said person.
In non-fiction it is far more about how I define myself. Am I a feminist? Yes! Am I a bad feminist? No! This book is about how Gay is actually not a bad feminist because there can’t be a bad feminist. It is as if it gave me permission to embrace things others would use to label me as a bad feminist. To be clear, Gay isn’t giving me permission to embrace these things. Her book isn’t about that. It is just me, in my head, waving this book around yelling “SEE! I AM FINE!”
It is a weird way that I connect with the things I read and the more I think about it, the more I realize how often I do it. It is almost the intellectual equivalent of comparing my body to models on magazine covers. I just hope it is healthier.