HerStory June 2022: Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a self-proclaimed Bad Feminist. She’s a writer, a teacher, a publisher, a mentor, and a podcaster (among other things), focusing on women and women’s experiences in the world. Her works often delve into trauma and its effects on those women. She’s written non-fiction essays, memoirs, short fiction, novels, and graphic novels, as well as opinion pieces and articles for many publications. She is, in a word, busy.

One of the unifying themes in Gay’s work is the understanding and acceptance that we as humans are flawed; in fact, it’s the thesis of her most well-known work, Bad Feminist. She jokes that she’s a Bad Feminist, because her approach to and experience of feminism is human, and therefore, imperfect. She enjoys songs that contain misogynistic lyrics, she loves the color pink, she wants someone else to handle the yard work. The essays in the book range from musings on friendship, to in-depth book critiques, to reflecting on her long-standing love of the Sweet Valley High books, to hard-hitting essays on rape culture and the harm perpetrated by the patriarchy. 

Gay writes a great deal about trauma; her memoir Hunger speaks to her complicated relationship to her body and to the way her response to trauma resulted in the body she inhabits today. She speaks to collective trauma (and now much of her short-form writing has to do with collective trauma of living through this pandemic, and responses to attacks on our civil rights and right to choice). 

Mentoring is a big part of Gay’s life-philosophy. Her Emerging Writers program has morphed into a new writing fellowship, named after her late brother, focusing on writers who have not had luck in traditional publishing, with special consideration given to writers from underrepresented backgrounds. She lives the adage, “a rising tide will lift all boats”.

Our Bad Feminist colorway incorporates all of the seeming disparate parts of what makes Roxane Gay whole: a hearty dollup of her actual favorite color, pink, mixed with the color she often told folks was her favorite, the more serious black. The result is as complicated and lovely as our June author.

Books by Roxane Gay:

  • Hunger
  • Bad Feminist
  • Ayiti
  • Black Panther: World of Wakanda
  • An Untamed State
  • Difficult Women

Want more like this? Here are some other authors we suggest you read/listen to:

  • Rebecca Solnit
  • Mikki Kendall
  • Ashley Ford
  • Cheryl Strayed
  • Tressie McMillan Cottom
  • Jesmyn Ward