“Writing is cheaper than therapy or drugs.” – Roxanne Gay, “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence”
Many of my non-fiction writing gurus laud the power of their craft to process harsh life events and thoughts that need spitting out. Roxane Gay’s collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is a brilliant selection of honest but accessible exhortations concerning body image, gender, racial discrimination and sexual violence. I was surprised at how easily I got sucked in. I didn’t always agree with her positions. Nevertheless, Gay eloquently presented her feelings while simultaneously recognizing her own contradictions. Illuminating those helped me, a white, conservative, female connect with a black, liberal, woman. Because despite our differences, a little part of her thinks like I do, just as a little part of me sees things the way she does.
This connection allowed me to feel safe considering what my role was in racial reconciliation and gender equality. Gay’s empathetic approach to everything that made her angry, helped me accept more of her perspective. If anything, I wish I could emulate that. She seems to be able to bridge a pretty big gap, by recognizing that while she hates The Help, she cried during it too. Gay’s hilarious treatment of pop-culture also inspired me. Somehow she was able to balance her disgust at a song with her recognition of its merits.
Roxane Gay’s self-deprecating rants wrestle honestly with cultural and personal contradictions of this tragicomic life. You won’t find it dull.