Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Definition of Feminism

I explore Roxanne Gray’s hilarious book of essays, Bad Feminist, and discuss the interesting issues risen.

As an internet leader and a fellow ‘Hunger Games’ fan, Roxanne Gay is a person I have found much in common with. Her bold and riotous attitude has now been brought from her twitter page to her book as an internet born collection of a diverse array of essays. Covering everything from Kanye raps to scrabble competitions, the book Bad Feminist will certainly provide you with something to relate to. And Gay doesn’t hold back. Her opinions pull up important points, not only in modern day feminism but, in race and politics too giving the book a wide variety of focal areas and, almost, angry point of views. But is Gay just saying out loud what the rest of us are too afraid to say? Her book is a diagnosis of all the things we can find wrong in the subjects discussed.

Gay talks about what many feminists aren’t likely to admit to. She confesses that she is a “mess of contradictions” and it’s true but aren’t we all. She wants to be independent but wants someone to take care of her, she loves rap music but is horrified by the offensive lyrics and she likes men but which straight female doesn’t. I found myself continuously nodding my head throughout her book yet still unsure whether I myself can count myself as a feminist. But she makes a significant point of whether we need to be approved by a ‘sisterhood’ or if there is even a ‘sisterhood’ or a perfect definition of what a feminist is. We all have our ‘guilty’ pleasures but Gay explores if these pleasures necessarily need to be considered as ‘guilty.’ 

Roxanne is actually brave and probably more of a feminist that any of us can consider ourselves to be. By coming into the limelight with such an opinionated book Gay pulls out all the stops and shows her commitment to the feminist movement. By creating this vulnerability it is already likely that she will be heavily criticised for sharing her opinion but which well-known feminist isn’t? Roxanne mentions Beyoncé who is famously criticised for making bad decisions and often branded a ‘bad feminist.’ Being constantly shown in public Beyoncé’s mistakes a constantly commented on but Gay reminds us that anytime a woman is visible she is a target. Disapproving of Beyoncé owning her sexuality, being confident in her body and being proud of her husband makes us just as bad a feminist as you may consider her to be. Since when was feminism not about supporting every single woman who stands up for the rights of others. 

Feminism is the strongest and most evident subject throughout her book but Roxanne makes a point to include more personal aspects of her life that affect, not just her as a woman but, her as a black woman. The book regularly takes a turn to a more intimate and personal side of her life, talking about childhood stories and films that have touched her heart. This is not necessarily in a good way. ‘The Help’ is a book turned film about the 60s in which black woman are the maids of the well-off, overly-dramatic, white women. Gay indicates that the book was written by a white woman, that the black actresses played more on stereotypical acting and, that when viewing the film, the cinema was filled with only white women. She gives you time to think these through combining these ideas with other films with a similar story. A strategic take down. 

For me, I have finally found a feminist leader that I can relate to with an attainable standard and ideas that aren’t too extreme to believe in. Everyone has the choice to be a feminist and that choice doesn’t need to be an extremist version of feminism. Some of us will recognise Gays arguments in our lives, and some may not but is she really that bad of a feminist? Unlike myself, she has actually been bold enough to put herself out there in the harsh world and face the wrath that may come at her. Her views come with her own perception of feminism and telling us that we can also have our own view. We can be independent, yes, but we can admit to our humanity. We don’t need to agree with unrealistic beauty standards, yes, but we can still shave our legs if we want to. She shows that she cares what people think, yes, but don’t we all. That’s why feminism exists in the first place, because women care what others think. Roxanne tells us that if we can’t find someone to relate we should be someone others can relate to. She teaches us that we should stand up and own our feminism, no matter what meaning we bring to the word. 

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