One of the upsides of feminism over the last few decades is that it has allowed women to be open about their ambitions. But while we are told to be ambitious, there is limit to how ambitious women can be without crossing the line.
Editor Robin Romm has compiled a series of essays by a diverse group of women about ambition. The list of contributors to the anthology Double Bind: Women on Ambition, includes writer Roxane Gay, singer/actress Molly Ringwald and playwright/TV show-runner Theresa Rebeck.
I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because it shows that even with a diverse group of women, the overall experience is the same. At the end of the day, the book reminds of not only the battles that we as women have won, but also the battles that we still need to fight.
I recommend it.
Harper Lee starting her writing career in a fashion that most writers can only dream of. Knowing that she wanted to write for a living, friends of hers gave her the Christmas gifts of all Christmas gifts: they paid her salary for one year, freeing her up from the juggling act of maintaining a full-time job and attempting to write. The result of that year is To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the most beloved and respected novels of the 20th century.
Harper Lee was one of the lucky ones. The rest of us have to find the balance between our full-time jobs, our families, whatever else we have to deal with and (hopefully being paid for) writing. This challenge (which seems to be universal among all writers) is addressed in the non fiction collection of essays, Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living Book Review. Edited by Manjula Martin (editor of the now defunct Scratch Magazine), the collection contains interviews and essays by well-known writers such as Roxane Gay, Jennifer Weiner and Nicky Hornby.
I really, really appreciated this book. What made me appreciate it is the universal struggle of all writers. Especially in the beginning, when we are starting our careers and hoping that our dreams come to fruition.
I absolutely recommend it.
For an untold number of centuries, women have been portrayed as one note 2-D characters. We were either the virgin or the slut. The power/money hungry woman or the innocent. There was little to no in-between.
In Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, through the character of Anne Elliot, Jane speaks of this one-sided view of women.
“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”
“Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”
Thankfully, things have started to change for the better in recent years. Respected writer Roxanne Gay’s new book, Difficult Women, is about difficult women and how complicated we truly are. In this anthology of short stories, she writes about everyday women deal with in their own complex way. Love, sex, relationships, jobs, etc. Not one of her female characters is a 2D cardboard cutout of a character. Each has her own unique sets of traits that makes her difficult, complex and thoroughly human.
I very much appreciated this book. Even in 2017, it is still hard to find female characters that are not confined to either a stereotype or forced into a character trope that has been seen one too many times. I appreciated this book not just because of the vast array of stories and characters, but because I enjoyed reading it.
I recommend it.
This past weekend, I finally purchased a copy of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. I’ve been in love with this book for nearly two years, but I was not sure if I wanted to buy it. On Sunday I gave in.
So, in no specific order, here are the reasons I re-read Bad Feminist…
• Bad Feminist is this generation’s The Feminine Mystique. Just like Betty Friedan’s now classic book asked our grandmothers to ask themselves hard questions, this book asks our generation to ask hard questions.
• Ms. Gay makes no apologies for who she is and what she believes in.
• She is not afraid to reveal her imperfections to the readers.
• She does not tolerate b*llsh*t, especially from members of the male sex who think they know more than she does.
• Her twitter feed is awesome and never dull.
• She is not afraid to call out the chinks in the armor of the feminist movement: the limited visibility of women of color, the limited visibility of LGBTQ women and other women who are doubly or triply stigmatized for their race, sex, sexual preference, etc.
• She would rather be a bad feminist than not be a feminist at all.
And those are the reasons why I re-read Bad Feminist.
I am a bad feminist. So is Roxanne Gay. We are all a mess of contradictions.
Her book is amazing. You can read my review of Bad Feminist here. If you have not read it already, I highly recommend it.
While the larger goal of feminism is equal rights, there are many smaller goals under the banner of feminism that still need to be reached.
Roxane Gay’s 2014 book, Bad Feminist, is a series of essays on feminism. She writes about topics that include Chris Brown, the Sweet Valley High book series and the images of women of color that we currently see on screen.
What I liked about this book is that it comes from the perspective of a woman of color. Ms. Gay is the daughter of Haitian-American immigrants. Feminism often comes from the view of a Caucasian woman from the upper and middle classes. While the feminist voices from women of color are getting louder, they are not as prominent as they could be. The title of the book is very appropriate. Even the staunchest of feminists may sometimes fall back to the male/female double standard because that is what many of us were raised on.
The last few lines of the book are as follows:
“No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist. I cannot and will not deny the importance and the absolute necessity of feminism. Like most people, I am full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like shit for being a woman.
I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all”.
I agree with that statement completely and I absolutely recommend this book.