CW: Sexual violence
Our Page 3 woman has been on everyone’s lips this week but until recently, I hadn’t heard of her. Luckily, this has been rectified and the more I hear about Roxane, the bigger fan I become.
Roxane has been on the front page of just about every newspaper of worth recently due to her new book, Bad Feminist. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays which show what it’s like to move through the world as a woman, and the title refers to the contradictions which can present themselves in being a woman and a feminist. Roxane accepts the label ‘bad feminist’ because she is a “flawed human” who loves the colour pink, dances to Blurred Lines and fakes orgasms. She accepts the grey areas of feminism and opens up the idea of feminism as inclusive and messy – it truly is for everyone.
Her book is particularly important as feminism has often received criticism for being predominantly concerned with white, heterosexual, middle class woman. Roxane speaks up as a woman of colour, at a time where the feminist platform is dominated with the likes of Caitlin Moran, Lena Dunham and Jessica Valenti (I love these women too but have to admit they’re hardly representational). Just recently, she described on her blog how she left a shop with a purchase and the security guard refused to take her receipt as proof of her purchase. He continued to insist she’d stolen the goods, even as he shooed away a white couple who set off the store alarms as they passed. Roxane is shrewd and funny, and she doesn’t rely on hyperbole or polarised arguments. Occupying that grey area, her essays are nuanced and calm. They are also deeply personal – she speaks of using her body as a tool of defence after becoming a victim of gang rape at twelve years old, and how she sees the representation of sexual violence in the media.
Bad Feminist is not Roxane’s first book. She’s previously published two others, and has a fourth due for publication in 2016. She’s also published countless pieces of fiction and non-fiction in anthologies and journals, and has been a professor of English at Purdue University. She founded Tiny Hardcore Press (described as “tiny enough to be so adorable you can’t help but sigh happily when you think of it,” and “hardcore enough to make you want to look away but you can’t so you keep staring and feeling that terrible thrilling tension winding itself through you”), was co-editor of literary magazine PANK and has a phD in rhetoric and technical communication – it’s about damn time we’ve heard of her.
I will be buying the everloving crap out of Roxane’s book and have already enjoyed her insights via interviews and Twitter. She’s worked hard for twenty years and deserves the fame that is coming her way. I hope you read and love her work too. After all, Roxane Gay is a little like her own brand of feminism – suitable for everyone.