ENG 363 – “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay (first half of book)

My fear with any feminism class I take and any feminist book I read is that I’ll be beaten with the two-by-four of feminist rhetoric telling me how awful I am for not embracing the gold-star feminism of hairy-pits and man-bashing. It seems Roxane Gay has this same fear. While she starts the book with essays about herself, she goes on to discuss how pop-culture has skewed her view of feminism and how it could (and does) skew others’ views as well.

I am particularly taken with the essay “Garish, Glorious Spectacles.” I’ve long considered gender (masculinity/femininity) to be purely a performance. It’s an act one puts on to get responses. I’ve never been attached to either femininity or masculinity, having spent much of my younger years being told I was a “tomboy” for liking the things I liked and never really having much interest in the script for “girl”. My lovely housemate found that she also didn’t have much interest in the script for “boy” growing up, and now is finding that the script for “girl” doesn’t quite fit either (but moreso than “boy”). She revels in her ambiguity now, and as I told her I love seeing her happy, “You make others as confused about your gender as you are!” Gay’s readings of “Green Girl” et al affirm/confirm our right to be confused about ourselves by showing how the media portrays the “act” of woman. We know what we are, yet here is a popular TV show showing us what we say we are is not the definition they want to portray. The stereotypes of women are entertaining—an actual woman is human, normal.

Gay’s “Not Here To Make Friends” elaborates more on the stereotypes of women in media negatively affecting women in general. A woman who is portrayed as independent and bold is unlikable, but the same for a man is the ideal. Such it is in life – a woman in leader ship is bossy while a man is just the boss. The essay goes on to to say that it’s foolish to thing of a character needing to be likable to be a good character, man or woman, but a man often gets a bye as the “anti-hero”. A woman is just a bitch.

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