Book Club Discussion: Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
A fun, accessible, and relatable read that was impressive in its range and thoughtfulness. Most of all, it was thought-provoking. I wrote lots of notes while reading, including questions it inspired me to ask myself and consider. I enjoyed that it offered an introduction to feminism that was cognizant of reservations that some people may have about feminism.
My favorite essay in the book was “Not Here To Make Friends.” I appreciated the way it made me think about the perspective of our cultural art and how that perspective influences and is influenced by patriarchy and other institutional forms of oppression.
“Inevitably, on every reality television program,” explains Gay, “someone will boldly declare, ‘I’m not here to make friends.’ … They make this declaration by way of explaining their unlikability or the inevitably unkind edit they’re going to receive from the show’s producers. It isn’t that they are terrible, you see. It’s simply that they are not participating in the show to make friends. They are freeing themselves from the burden of likability, or they are, perhaps, freeing us from the burden of guilt for the dislike and eventual contempt we might hold for them.”
The patriarchy/male gaze expects women to be likable or to put effort into being likable to/for a certain viewpoint. Women on reality TV who refuse to cater to this viewpoint are disregarded or not taken seriously, as if the only way for a woman to win or succeed is to follow a man’s script for them. Women are then further scripted into stereotypes. By rejecting the rules, they are placed under stricter ones.