And finally, last but certainly not least, we welcome Margaret Bostrom, Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Oregon. Margaret and I (hi, I’m Serena) found each other at Harvard Book Store, where Margaret ruled before heading off to spend a few years banging her head into the hallowed walls of academia. She has her own blog (updated understandably less frequently since grad school) that nevertheless gives a sense of her huge, impressive (and somewhat intimidating) appetite for all things literature.
We live in a world that is not kind to feminists. In our current cultural maelstrom, rumors of “post-feminism” and reasons why #IDontNeedFeminism compete with headlines about rape culture and the legal erosion of women’s reproductive rights. Men like George Zimmerman are found “not guilty” while women like Marissa Alexander are sentenced and incarcerated, and though it is certain you have heard Zimmerman’s name, it is far less likely you’ve heard Alexander’s. As Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay might say, “these things are connected” and these connections matter to feminism.
Responding to this world as a feminist is complicated and demanding at best, disheartening and dangerous at worst. Given all this dolor, a reasonable next move for you, right now, might be to push back your chair and accost the nearest feminist (hopefully yourself) with an aggressively puzzled, “Why bother??”
Luckily, there’s an easy answer: we bother because feminism has a phenomenal upside (its passionate investment in transforming the world, for starters) and badass, eloquent spokeswomen like Roxane Gay.
If you love good writers, or women who are opinionated, compassionate, and honest, or feminists who take up space, laugh too loudly, and refuse to be demure, easily satisfied, or conventionally catty, you will love Roxane Gay. From pop culture critiques analyzing race, gender, and sexuality, to personal narratives rife with exquisite nerdery (read the one about competitive scrabble!), the essays in Bad Feminist are wise, thoughtful, and never shy about engaging difficulties, disagreements, and contradictions.
That this world is difficult, contradictory, and not kind to feminists is exactly why feminism matters and one of the many things feminism seeks to change. Few writers explain this as pointedly, poignantly, and powerfully as Roxane Gay. Her Bad Feminism is good enough for me.
[Margaret wanted to link to Black Sun Books in Eugene, OR, a recent in her long line of favorite bookstores. But again, their website is pretty minimalist, so I linked to IndieBound. —Serena]