Fresh feminism

Bad Feminist

Second-wave, third-wave, post—whatever. Essayist Roxane Gay ditches such categorizations in her new collection, Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial, $15.99). In a political and pop-culture minefield built on, among other topics, the battle for reproductive rights and Robin Thicke's smarminess, modern “[f]eminism is flawed, but it offers, at its best, a way to navigate this shifting climate,” Gay writes. Part commentary, part memoir, her essays tackle topics such as Lena Dunham's lack of diversity on Girls, ladies who love Chris Brown and, the problematic but persistent image of the baby mama on the BET network. Throughout, she addresses race (Gay is black), class (she grew up middle class), education (she's an English professor at Purdue University), and privilege (“Nearly everyone, particularly in the developed world, has something someone else doesn't”). Sound like a labored read? It's not. Above all, Gay disabuses the stereotype of a humorless feminist, writing in a voice that's fresh, funny and always accessible.