Roxane Gay talks "bad feminism," personal experiences at Women's Week lecture

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Date: Mar. 24, 2016
From: UWIRE Text
Publisher: ULOOP Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 557 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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Byline: Allison Nusbaum

Roxane Gay, author of "Bad Feminist," spoke to an audience March 23 in Pruis Hall. She read from her book, which is a New York Times' best-seller, and touched on other issues, like the pressures of activism. DN PHOTO STEPHANIE AMADOR

After being introduced by Lisa Pellerin, the director of Ball State's Women's and Gender Studies Program, "Bad Feminist" author, Roxanne Gay took her seat in the middle of the stage, accompanied by applause and shouts from the crowd.

She began by pointing out that Muncie hasn't changed much since she last saw it, though the town has a Red Lobster now, and embarked on night of laughs, reflection on feminist issues and sharing of concerns.

Troi Genders, an English Education major heard about the event on the English Department's Twitter page and immediately said, "I have to go."

She enjoyed the laid back informal atmosphere of the event and hearing selections from the book.

Gay read a variety of selections from her book "Bad Feminist." From a reflection of her sexual fantasies about the UPS man, to a recounting of what it was like to be a "typical first year professor" and a guide to female friendships.

Throughout the night, Gay touched on a variety of issues, from how there is often only one black professor in a department to the pressures of activism.

Some selections she read focused more on personal experiences, but many focused on activist issues, like her nuanced approach to privilege, where she explained that "privilege battles" -- matchups to see which demographic has the best privilege -- are useless.

Others struck a close balance between the two, like the titular essay in which Gay explores how she approaches feminism.

"I'm full of contradictions, but I don't want to be treated any less because I am a woman," she said.

The audience, some of whom clearly knew the Purdue English professor, was engrossed, laughing, snapping and clapping throughout.

Sami Hunter came to the reading with her best friend, both of whom have read "Bad Feminist," and thought that it was interesting to hear the essays in the author's own voice.

In addition to Gay's readings, the event included a Q & A, in which audience members could inquire more about Gay's thoughts and experiences.

The Q & A covered a wide variety of topics, from pro-porn feminism to Gay's favorite rapper, John Wolfe. There was a microphone set up in front of the stage but the professor was at home calling on hands in the crowd.

Many students shared personal concerns from their own lives, such as how to explain the socialization of gender to friends or how to deal when the world bums you out.

Gay responded that the way to deal with all the world throws at you is to find what brings you joy in life.

In keeping with the approach of "Bad Feminist," Gay answered questions honestly and admitted that she didn't have all the answers.

Throughout the evening, she emphasized that there should be a balance between looking after yourself and activism, acknowledging that sometimes you just have to "let loose" in life, like how she listens to rap music, and to sometimes let yourself forget about worries and concerns.

"When I'm dancing in the club, I'm not thinking about gender equality," she said.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A447309456