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Bad feminist by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay calls herself a bad feminist. She does not want to be put on a pedestal. All role models will sooner or later be pushed down. She considers herself as already pushed down. It is sad that not everyone can feel included in feminism. It seems that you can only be a feminist according to certain principles.

In her collection of essays Roxane Gay describes the narrow feminist role. She strikes a blow for feminists that don’t fit the profile as ”militant” and even use make-up and shave their armpits - as if that would be the typhical feminist. What about these feminists? Is it something wrong about beeing what is considered ”unfeminine”? It is a difficult balance. She should be careful not to become what she herself condemns, and exclude certain feminists. Feminism should be including, not be yet another rule for women that are tired of being told how to look and how to behave. (However, there might be one exception. It would be problematic to call oneself a feminist if accepting and approving the terms of the patriarchy that restricts and objectifies women - the very same patriarchy that feminists seek to destroy). Some women do happen to behave according to the traditional feminine role, and others do not. They have fought hard to be accepted. Most women probably are a mixture of different roles.

Roxane Gay discusses politicians' position of power, and how they think they have the right to make decisions about womens’ bodies, when discussing reproductive rights. She writes about black peoples’ conditions and discusses popular culture from a feminist perspective. She mentions music and sexist lyrics, comedians mysogynist attitude, young adults books and movies and television series like The Hunger Games and Girls. This is very important. Female stereotypes are common in popular culture, but she also points out that it is unfair to give a single movie or tv-series the responsibility to change the industry. The movie Bridesmaids got to take a lot of responsibility, and to call it revolutionary is putting unreasonable pressure on production. Perhaps calling it ”a touch of innovation” is enough. I wonder what Roxane Gay thinks about the series Marvel's Jessica Jones? (Comics are not known to be equal, but this is a protagonist who does not agree with the genre stereotypes.) The main character is a female anti-heroine, fighting against misogyny. Marvel's Jessica Jones is basically about abuse, both mental and physical. Assault and rape. If one is to depict rape, social structures and the consequences can not be ignored. To not be simply a way to exploit the female body as macabre, graphic, bizarre entertainment, the topic should be problemized and analyzed. It must be depicted realistically. While shows like the ”Outlander” and the 2Game of thrones” depict rape without acknowledging it, Jessica Jones call it for what it is, and the consequences of such a horrible experience are clear.

In her youth, Roxane Gay distanced herself from feminism because the word was considered an insult. She was called an angry, sex-hating, man-hating lady with a victim mentality. There are undoubtedly many who recognize themselves. Feminism is a sensitive word. Who is it that has distorted the meaning? Those who have the most to lose if it is successful. Too bad, she didn’t continued and deepend the discussion. That is precisely the problem with the book. She identifies different areas, but the analyses are not deep enough and many of the conclusions she draws are not new. Much of the content is already discussed. Furthermore, there are some contradictions in her arguments, but by calling helself a bad feminist, she might have justified a slightly fuzzy text and any holes in her argument. She does not pretend to be someone she is not, she just gives her view of society. But the book offers an important point. Roxane Gay may like the color pink and music with sexistic texts, but she's not a bad feminist. "Bad" according to her definition, is actually human. If there was something as bad feminists, the word feminist would loose it’s meaning, because we are all human. I am happy that Roxane Gay has nuanced feminism. One of the book's greatest advantages is the author’s passion and inspiration.

The most important theme is the contradictions that exist within feminism. All feminists have their own view of the concept. When privileged people like Emma Watson and Zara Larsson call themselves feminists, they are often critizized. When people express themselves even though they lack some gender studies or heavy experiences, discussions follows about who have the right to call themselves feminists. Of course, the need for more than one kind of woman is important. Not only the white, privileged woman should be able to fight for feminism. If there is anything this book indicates it is the current lack of acceptance and the need for the very concept of feminism to be more including.

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