Understanding the Benefits of Being a ‘Bad Feminist’: Why Roxane Gay Chose to Champion Her Own Version of Feminism
In recent years, the #MeToo movement and women’s marches have put feminism at the center of the media and social discourse.
While this has been great in terms of growing awareness around feminist issues, it can also be intimidating for those who don’t fit into the “prescribed” version of feminism.
But that’s okay – thanks to Roxane Gay’s book Bad Feminist, you can find your own way to be a feminist!
Bad feminist acknowledges that individual views on certain aspects of feminism differ and no one should be judged for that.
It encourages people to make their voices on feminist issues heard, regardless if it goes against mainstream norms.
Ultimately, bad feminism is better than no feminism at all.
And it Preaches diversity of opinion which is a key aspect of progress within the feminist movement.
So don’t worry about conforming to what others think – find your own unique way to express yourself as a feminist and fight for its important causes!
Why Being a “Bad Feminist” Is Often Better Than No Feminism at All
Roxane Gay is a self proclaimed “bad feminist” – a phrase she made up herself that stands for somebody who doesn’t try to fit all the various requirements or ideals of essential feminism.
Essential feminism is the traditional form of feminism that favors white, cisgender, heterosexual women, and often excludes women from other minority groups such as black, transgender and queer women.
Essential feminists tend to also enforce very strict rules around being a “proper” feminist such as opposing pornography and rejecting objectification of women under any circumstance.
It’s this kind of one-sided brand of feminism that has left so many feeling excluded.
It creates an atmosphere where only certain types of voices can be heard and leaves a lot of people feeling unwelcome in what is supposed to be an inclusive movement.
That’s why Roxane calls herself a bad feminist – she believes in equality for all women and men but refuses to adhere to the strict guidelines set out by essential feminism.
She knows she won’t please everybody but believes that her version gender equality is just as important as essential feminism in order for meaningful progress to happen.
And it’s undeniably better than no feminism at all!
Reality TV Reduces Women to Stereotypes and Rejects Their Wisdom and Depth
Reality TV often reduces women to mere caricatures, ignoring the complexity of our lives and experiences.
As viewers, we’re encouraged to laugh at the often outrageous behavior of female reality TV stars as they flaunt stereotypes of fighting over men, obsessing over looks, or behaving in overly emotional ways.
Where women should be seen as complex individuals with valuable lives, reality TV portrays them instead as objects who exist only for entertainment and display an exaggerated version of their gender.
The characters are not presented as human beings with thoughts and feelings but rather as stereotypes who fit neatly into a few basic caricatures.
Take shows like Flavor of Love or Rock of Love for example.
They follow a man – Flav from Public Enemy being one such example – selecting from several women in hopes that one will win his affection.
But rather than bothering to try to learn each woman’s name he assigns them labels like “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” made popular in The Cat in the Hat story.
This makes clear that these women are mere objects instead of seen as fellow humans worthy respect and dignity.
Rape Culture Is Fueled by Media and Politicians Alike, Normalizing a Horrific Crime
It’s almost as if we have become desensitized to the realities of sexual violence against women.
We’re so used to seeing plotlines that feature rape and other forms of sexual abuse in TV shows and movies, that even if a scene is just showing a man forcefully penetrating a woman, it doesn’t shock us anymore.
We are almost numb to its horror.
It all stems from our unfortunate introduction to the term “rape culture,” which unfortunately dominates society today when it comes to women’s safety.
Women everywhere expect to encounter some form of sexual violence or harassment, and entertainment only adds fuel to the fire with its obsession with these topics.
We also see this apathy in news coverage of rape cases – rather than focusing on the plight of the victim, they tend to give more attention (or even sympathy) to the perpetrators, leaving victims virtually absent in these reports.
Politicians don’t help either – one example being Republican Congressman Todd Akin who was responsible for using offensive terms such as “legitimate rape,” which only contributes further desensitization among society.
If we are going to truly put an end to rape culture, we must educate ourselves about it first and take a stand against normalizing sexual violence against women in all forms.
The Help: Exploiting Black Characters and Hindering Racial Equality
Films like The Help have a detrimental effect on progress toward racial equality.
In this movie, the black characters are limited to common stereotypes that feed into the idea that they are helpless and must rely on kind white people for salvation.
This is furthered by scenes such as Aibileen hanging a picture of John F.
Kennedy instead of a black civil rights activist, and Minny’s comment about getting comfort from frying chicken, despite the fact that these movies are made in the 21st century.
Such films do nothing to form fully-rounded characters or to advance stories with strong African American protagonists who drive their own narratives and help themselves, rather than being used as a catalyst in another character’s goal.
As well as exploiting civil rights struggles to entertain audiences, they actively hinder progress toward true racial equality.
Gay’s Queer, Black, Bad Feminism: Fighting for Equality and Agency
Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist highlights the deep-rooted systemic sexism and racism that exists today in the United States.
Through her narrative, she argues that mass shootings carried out by white men are not labeled as acts of terrorism, and African Americans are assumed guilty or bad before proven innocent.
This is demonstrated through the case of Trayvon Martin; he was unarmed when murdered yet George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges.
His death cast in a negative light due to widespread beliefs about black boys – especially when compared to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who was featured on Rolling Stone magazine’s cover after committing a terrorist attack.
Furthermore, Gay illuminates how women’s reproductive freedoms are still threatened by primarily white male legislators, despite equality being a regulated issue in modern society.
These examples illustrate how African Americans and women in the United States still experience discrimination daily due to deeply entrenched systems perpetuating inequality.
The final summation of Bad Feminist is that you shouldn’t wait for the ideal form of feminism to come and find you or waste time trying to be a perfect feminist.
Rather, be a bad feminist – there is no one perfect way to engage with feminism and every voice matters in making it better.
By creating conversation on how race, gender identity and sexual orientation interact with feminism, we become more mindful of our actions and how those actions shape the world around us.
No human is perfect – nor should they strive to be – but by voicing our opinions we can move away from perfection and closer towards true change.