Scrabble, Sweet Valley High, and Feminism

I’m always reading. 

I always have at least one magazine going and two books on my bedside table.

And though I’m always reading, I’m forever adding books to my “want-to-read” list. It means I’ll never run out of reading material. But it also means I sometimes read a book after a lot of the hoopla has fizzled out. 

Such was the case with Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. Published in 2014, it’s not in the news per se, but many of the topics written about are very much in the news. 

It wasn’t just what she had to say, but how she said it. In one book, Ms. Gay wrote essays on topics such as Scrabble, race, the Sweet Valley High series, rape, and feminism – just to name a few.

This week, I wanted to share some of the passages that stood out to me. 

From the introduction:

“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—to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself: a woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, she knows, is terrible for women and who sometimes plays dumb with repairmen because it’s just easier to let them feel macho than it is to stand on the high moral ground.”

From “Typical First Year Professor”:

“This is the dream, everyone says—a good job, tenure track. I have an office I don’t have to share with two or four people. My name is on the engraved panel just outside my door. My name is spelled correctly. I have my own printer. The luxury of this cannot be overstated. I randomly print out a document; I sign happily as the printer spits it out, warm. I have a phone with an extension, and when people call the number they are often looking for me.”

From “What We Hunger For”:

“All too often, representations of a woman’s strength overlook the cost of that strength, where it rises from, and how it is called upon when needed most.”

From “Beyond the Measure of Men”:
“If readers discount certain topics as unworthy of their attention, if readers are going to judge a book by its cover or feel excluded from a certain kind of book because the cover is, say, pink, the failure is with the reader, not the writer. To read narrowly and shallowly is to read from a place of ignorance, and women writers can’t fix that ignorance no matter what kind of books we write or how those books are marketed.”

From “Tragedy. Call. Compassion. Response.”:

“Every day, terrible things happen in the world. Every damn day too many people die or suffer for reasons that defy comprehension.

“All too often, suffering exists in a realm beyond vocabulary so we navigate that realm awkwardly, fumbling for the right words, hoping we can somehow approximate an understanding of matters that should never have to be understood by anyone in any place in the world.”

From “Bad Feminist: Take Two”:

“Bad feminism seems like the only way I can both embrace myself as a feminist and be myself, and so I write. I chatter away on Twitter about everything that makes me angry and all the small things that bring me joy. I write blog posts about the meals I cook as I try to take better care of myself, and with each new entry, I realize that I’m undestroying myself after years of allowing myself to stay damaged. The more I write, the more I put myself out into the world as a bad feminist but, I hope, a good woman—I am being open about who I am and who I was and where I have faltered and who I would like to become.”