Bad Feminist Roxane Gay Analysis

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In the introduction of Bad Feminist Roxane Gay states that “feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed…When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement” (10). Throughout each essay, Gay reflects upon her own flaws and insecurities as a woman and feminist. She does so through the exploration of her own ambivalence, reactions, and encounters with the many accounts and experiences of womanhood in her personal life and in pop culture. Her exploration is through consideration and comparison of the ways in which she and other women displayed in pop culture are “good” or “likable” versus the …show more content…
As she notes in her introduction, her views on these issues are based on her own subjective experience rather than from a perspective of detached observation. One prime issue she is passionate about is the concept of likability, the degrees and spaces in which women are permitted to be likable, and how consumption of likability shapes women’s portrayal of themselves. She contends, “In many ways, likability is a very elaborate lie, a performance, a code of conduct dictating the proper ways to be. Characters who don’t follow this code become unlikable” (Gay 85). Her notion of likability fits in well with the limiting classification of womanhood. Unlikable characters have the power to make women and society feel both empowered and uncomfortable for many reasons. Focusing on reality television in the essay “Garish, Glorious Spectacles” Gay demonstrates the ways in which society allows women to be unlikable. Pop culture, in the form of reality television, permits women to comfortably be unlikable in order to warn women of how far they can go. Shows such as The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Rock of Love, or Flavor of Love that consist of “catty, bitchy, manipulative” (Gay 79) and ultimately unlikable women appeal to consumers precisely because of their cleansing relief. These unlikable women exhibit outrageous performances that are far away enough from what real women are in danger of transgressing that they are permissible to display. Yet as Gay argues, their performances are close enough in reach to reality that, “These shows exist because audiences need reminders of the wrong turns our lives might take” (Gay 79). Reality television distances itself away enough from its consumers so as to create the illusion that these unlikable traits are a possibility to fear but it is highly unlikely that they will come true. In sum, characters of reality television

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