It is currently a Friday evening, and I overindulged in too many dark chocolate-peanut butter cups (as one does when they have as little self-control and an affinity for chocolate-as I do). I am sitting on my bed, with the fulfillment that I get after finishing a good book. Every time I finish a book that speaks to my soul, feelings that I can’t accurately articulate wash over me. The words from the final chapter of an impactful book tend to wrap around my mind, and I always take a while to really digest it. I have a hunger for wonderful books… and chocolate-peanut butter cups. I finished “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay a while back and I just finished listening to it on audible. When I really love a book, I read it first, then listen to it on audio. It helps me absorb the words, fully. It is a remarkable read, and one of those books that makes you think and think about your roll in things- and how other people have been affected by intersectionality. I say “things”, so vaguely, because my role is in many “things”. My life and interpersonal life have many layers. I have impact, even when I don’t think about it. I absorb information, even when I don’t think about it. The book “Bad Feminist” was recommended to me by one of my professors. I was taking a class on women in politics at the time, and the book was a learning tool for the course- but even more so for developing as a person. There are issues that I have been so ignorant to in my life. Mostly, because I am a white woman who grew up in a comfortable household, with access to any and all educational tools I would need to be successful. That is the truth- I grew up privileged in many ways. This is not to say I wasn’t aware of racism or prejudice; I just didn’t understand how complex these issues could be. I still have so much to learn. This book made me more thoughtful to the challenges someone may face because of their race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. I KNOOOOW I typically try to not get too political with my blog, because I don’t want my readers to feel uncomfortable with my political views, but, 1. These are fucking important issues, and 2. I think empathy and ownership of our role in fixing societal issues is bipartisan. Everyone, no matter how you identify politically, should have the insight and depth to dive into issues that affect people other than yourself. If anyone reads this book and wants to talk about it, HIT ME UP! Another one of my favorite things is dissecting a book in conversation. I like talking about the details that stuck with me, and hearing what other people felt affected them, profoundly. This books message that stuck with me was what it meant to be a feminist. Perhaps, the word “feminist” means something to you? Good, or bad. People often have a perception of what feminism is or isn’t. “Bad Feminist” bye Roxane Gay talks about both of those good and bad ideas of feminism, and how we often put people on pedestals, then label them as bad feminists when they fall short. Roxane talks about loving rap music that is obviously degrading to women- but the beat is catchy as hell. I agree. I know the music doesn’t shine women in the most respectful light, but I listen to it. I sing it. I play it for my friends. I am a bad feminist. I mean, Kanye West is one of my favorite artists. I bounce my head up and down in the car to his songs, which often refers to women in derogatory terms. I listen along and enjoy the music, despite it. I fall short in so many ways. I am aware of the ways I have failed as a feminist, and I am painfully aware of the stages in my life where I put down other women. I think of being young, insecure, and gossipy. Not the woman I aspire to be, but the woman that I have been at different times in my life. If I started to compile a list of ways I failed as a feminist, we would have a lengthy list to gaze upon. If you read back to me all the things on that imaginary list, I would struggle to make eye contact, because those are ideas and moments that I am ashamed of. But I do strive to be a better woman, and I think that counts for something. I think of the lifetime of influences that have taught me what it means to be a woman. I think of what other young women must have felt about their influences. I can imagine for women who aren’t white, they probably have felt misrepresented in media. I think as a white woman, that is an important reality for me to consider with thoughtfulness. The medias portrayal of all women is sexualized and specific, in ways that are unobtainable for most. Even now as I type, I began to compile a spiteful list of what the medias ideal woman would be, and in the process, I shamed a specific type of woman. Jeesh! See?! I am a bad feminist! I am a work in progress. But let me say this, as well; we should not shy away from the challenge of being good feminists! We will continue to grow as people and actively see societal progress when we advocate for everyone’s equality. To quote the last sentence, of the last page of “Bad Feminist”, “ I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all”. Everyone should check this book out, digest it, think about their role in things.
Libby Anne Groseclose