Rhetorical Analysis of Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist”
“Yes, I am a feminist. No, I don’t hate men” writes author, Roxane Gay, from her essay “Bad Feminist”. In the essay, she examines feminism and its culture trends. She informs her audience by explaining her views as a feminist and her beliefs in equality. Gay effectively appeals to her audience by using real life examples of strong feminists citing Elizabeth Wurtzel, displaying through words of what feminists desire but tries to stay away from, and establishing through personal experiences such as constantly being asked about her bad feminism.
In Gay’s article, she, like many women, fear being labeled feminist, or rather, fear the stereotype of the militant, man-hater. Gay finds support for modern feminism through gender, race, and sexuality. She explains and argues more of poor feminism, like POC and lesbians, have been neglected by the white, heterosexual feminist movement.
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Accepting that she is a “bad feminist”, Gay allows her to be herself to love the color pink and derogatory rap music, for instance and to still be a feminist, which is to say, someone who believes women should be treated equally and treated well. The overall idea is how Gay rejects the “essentialist feminist” myth and any of those expectations that come along with the label of feminism.
Roxane Gay begins by using real life examples when she establishes a quotes from an American writer and journalist, Elizabeth Wurtzel’s article, stating “Real feminist earn a living, have money and means of their own and women who don’t are fake feminist and don’t deserve the label” (163) and later on, Wurtzel also states in another article, “good feminists works hard to be beautiful.” Gay is using real life examples from different authors to convey a reason why she is a “bad feminist” because she isn’t an example.
Additionally, Gay indicates Wurtzel’s suggestion, “that a woman’s worth is determined by beauty which is what feminism works against” because she recalls the challenges of how feminism is labeled in the modern world. She also gives personal facts on her perspectives from how women are treated by men to confessions of failing as a woman. Gay expresses real life situations to enlighten her audience that they don’t have to be characterized as a labeled feminist, such as what other people think.
Gay is displaying through words of what feminists desire but tries to stay away from when she states, “We see this fear of categorization, this fear of being forced into a box that cannot quite accommodate a woman properly.” (164) Gay brings emotion by views of feminism and empower her audience to have an insight on the issues women face.
Her goal is to make her audience have a strong viewpoint of the feminism. Another feeling Gay strengthens with her word choice is “demanding perfection” because feminists wants and needs perfection, she contributes a hunger that feminists wants but tries to bypass. She is informing that no need for perfection to be a feminist, do what you desire to be who you want to be.
She also establishes through personal experiences by getting labeled as an “angry feminist” (163) or the “bad feminist”. (169) Gay explains how she’s a bad feminist by not following up to an “essential feminist” but an empowered woman who just wants equality for all. She shows credibility to her audience by being familiar with this topic, throughout she is building and showing how much she is passionate by being a strong black woman. She discusses events from crimes, rapes, how women have to behave towards men, and stories of her own by informing her audience to have a reality check on several issues women are facing past and present to future.
Therefore, Roxane Gay effectively appeals to her audience by real life examples, displaying through words of what feminist desire but tries to stay away from, and establishing through personal experiences. Gay gives a strong, angry, and sad expression throughout this article because she wants to bring out her definition of feminist and explaining other controversial issues.
She isn’t saying to follow what she believes but this article gives her idea on feminism. Gay doesn’t follow the rules of being a feminist which is why she labels herself as a “bad feminist”. As an empowered women, she asserts to not having to agree with all the ideas and rules of feminism in order to be a feminist. Overall, Gay being a bad feminist helps her to withstand on perfection. She shows that there are other ways to demand for feminism.