This was absolutely incredible. Gay shares so many examples of modern culture that reflect the racist and sexist nature of our culture and challenges the reader to accept them and see them for what they are. At the same time, she admits that some songs are catchy and that that’s ok. Being messy is apart of life and we can’t and shouldn’t expect us to be perfect feminists all the time. It’s ok to admit you’re not. That sometimes you like something even when you can acknowledge that it is bad or has bad parts. I think the the biggest takeaway is that you acknowledge something is wrong and you need the things we consume to be better, then it’s ok to be a little messy. Don’t trivialize or ignore someone’s assessment of a piece of work or a person, take it in and use the knowledge mindfully.
Particularly, I loved her discussions surrounding Girls, The Help, Django Unchained, and 12 Years a Slave. Here she talked about the representation (or lack there of) of black people. Specifically surrounding the gratuitous violence of Black pain, the eagerness for white people to use slavery or racist stereotypes for their personal gain. Along with Tyler Perry, she discusses the use and abuse of Black women in media and how their stories are often driven by shame, pain, or revenge. Revenge in this case is not her in power, but her being the victim of revenge often times self-inflicted. While I was aware, to an extent, of some of these issues, it was overwhelming to see how blatant these problems are and how I have been unaware of them through either my own ignorance or lack of critical thinking.
For a nonfiction, this was a fast read. Mostly because I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to know what Gay had to say, even if it was just her talking about Scrabble. The insights she had were both nuanced and familiar. This book is a few years old now and I have to wonder just how much this influenced contemporary feminist literature. I’ve read quite a few books surrounding race and feminism over the last twelve months and I’m glad that I have because I feel like I’m learning a lot. So even though this was an older and somewhat “of its time” text, I still think the messages and critique within are valuable and important.
I’m feel like I’m doing a poor job of explaining just how she did her analysis so you might as well just read this book. I cannot believe I had this on my tbr for nearly 6 years!!! I’m so glad that I finally prioritized this. I can’t wait to read more books by her.