I don’t know the circumstances of these essays. Were they written for various publications and then just compiled here? So many of them are of such similar length and that, by the end, became one of my objections. But more to that point later.
Though Gay explains why she thinks she’s a ‘bad’ feminist, I think she’s more in love with the connotations of ‘bad’ than being precise. In the end, it seems like she’s an incomplete feminist – aware of some of her blind spots, but not necessarily ready to remedy them.
There’s a lot to agree with here. I do believe Gay is right when she says that popular culture both promotes and reflects a misogynistic, rape culture. And I do agree with a line that struck me as a useful refrain for this book. We have become careless – with our language, with our choices, with our actions.
That said, some of the reactions I had here were similar to ones when I read something (I’ve blanked on the title) by Chuck Klosterman, maybe Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs. Why would someone with such obvious talent and insight spend so much time on the surface of things? As I said, I think popular culture matters. But these essays lack depth. They seem to be written for the Twitter world Gay professes to admire. Just when she’s approaching a powerful question or contradiction, she stops – abruptly. She regularly tries for the final sentence as exclamation point approach, and she regularly fails. Given the overlap of so many of the essays, what would have happened if she’d dug in a bit deeper? So much of the research seemed based one-click – a news story, a statistic. There’s not much of an attempt to synthesize, well, anything.