This is a book that I have been meaning to read since it came out. Like most feminist writings this book has really positive and really negative reviews. I actually listened to the audiobook and then ordered the book from the library so that I could write this review with quotes. While I loved listening to the audiobook, it isn’t compatible to saving quotes for later usage.
So… What did I like about this book. The introduction! Thank you, Roxane Gay, for that introduction! In particular, I want to thank her for this: “I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying…” (p. xi). This! How much do I love this quote?!?! It seriously makes the book for me. Aren’t we all just trying? Trying to be good, trying to be enough, trying to be, well, anything everything. And, for me, that includes being a feminist. I’m not perfect either. But I still claim my feminism because it is so important to me. I still like when a man opens the door for me. I am still a stay at home mother while my husband works full time. I am still, but I am.
Now there are a number of essays in this book. I am only going to touch on a couple, but know that each spoke to me in some way. “Peculiar Benefits” is an essay on the tough topic of privilege. This topic causes waves throughout the intersection of feminism, race, class- pretty much anything to do with the social status of people. Many people do not believe they have privilege when they do. It is hard to see your own privilege in many ways. I like this quote from this particular essay: “You don’t necessarily have to do anything once you acknowledge your privilege. You don’t have to apologize for it. You need to understand the extent of your privilege, the consequences of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through and experience the world in ways you might never know about” (p. 17). How perfect is that? It’s perfect. This essay is one that really resonated with me as I was listening. I believe I even talked to myself throughout it. Probably causing my husband to eye me strangely. But it spoke to me and I had to vocally agree with what Gay had to say throughout the essay.
Let’s look at one more essay. “The Trouble with Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us” is about, you guessed it, Prince Charming. Here Gay discusses the many ways in which Prince Charming is sold to us through stories. Discussed is Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, and various fairy tales. This essay tells us, the reader, of the many ways in which these stories are negative towards women, promote abusive relationships, etc. But it also touches on the fact that these are so popular. Just because we like these stories, does not mean that we want that in our real life. We can like a story, but be able to separate our reality from it. But not all women can. For some women this is a dangerous trip into abusive, controlling relationships. They may see it as okay. There is a fine line. I love my erotica, but that doesn’t mean that I want to be in a BDSM relationship. I am strong enough to realize this. What about the women who aren’t? In this essay Gay is saying that we can read this for pleasure, but we cannot ignore the negative aspects that abound with this type of literature. Prince Charming is not always Prince Charming and “we cannot dismiss the flaws because the books are fun and the sex is hot” (p.204).
What else do I have to say here? If you are into feminist literature, read it. If your just delving into feminist literature, read it. If you want to learn something about the social structure and status of people in the U.S., read it. It is engaging and intriguing. READ ON!