Written by Ashley Kelmore, Posted in Feminism, Reviews
I’ve heard many people reference this collection of essays, to the point where I sought out the author’s twitter feed so I could get a feel myself about what her writing was about. After having enjoyed her (often random) tweets for a while now, I finally picked up her book. Well, I downloaded it. And now I’m mostly just mad that it took me this long. I really should have just read it the second I heard about it.
Ms. Gay writes about many different cultural topics throughout this book, each fitting loosely into the categories of gender and sexuality; race and entertainment; politics, gender, and race; and ‘me’ (the author). I appreciate the fact that I don’t agree with everything she says in every essay – that’s kind of the point. Not that the author expects us to disagree with her, but that she owns the fact that she is a complex and complicated person, with many different opinions that don’t always neatly line up. She listens to problematic music, she reads Vogue unironically, and she (gasp!) shaves her legs. She’s a bad feminist.
But she’s not. She’s a fantastic feminist, because she approaches things with a critical eye. It is, in fact, possible to like things that are not good. Her essay on the song “Blurred Lines” is a great example of this: the lyrics are horrifying and basically an ode to justifying rape, bat damn if the song isn’t catchy. She is also able to provide a different perspective than so much of what we see in mainstream feminism. Ms. Gay brings the perspective of not a white, straight woman but of a Haitian American queer woman. That doesn’t mean she speaks for all black women, or all bisexual women, but it does mean that her commentary comes from a place that doesn’t get nearly enough coverage in most of the media out there.
For some reason I had some trouble with a few of the earlier essays. Part of that may have just been the mood I was in. But for me the last 200 pages of the 300+ page book flew by, and I was sad it was over. However, thanks to the interwebs, I can still read her writing, as she is the editor of The Butter, a subsection of The Toast.