We were totally floored when Roxane Gay agreed to judge this year's Paper Darts Short Fiction Award. Over the last decade, her writing and editing of PANK inspired countless literary ambitions. There is not a more perfect judge in all the land of literature.
But she's also one of our favorite feminist icons. Her book Bad Feminist opened the gates to a world where it's possible to be both feminist and human—because we're all still learning, the conversation is still evolving, and being perfect is hard.
In the next few weeks, we'll bow down to the Word of Gay in a series of blog posts that highlight pieces of her brilliance. The first up to bat: our favorite Bad Feminist quotes that we might just one day get tattooed on our bodies. (But we'll save room for the inevitable zingers in her upcoming memoir, Hunger, too.)
[click here to submit to our contest, have your story judged by Roxane Gay, and potentially win $500]
1. “When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.”
From the introduction to Bad Feminist, a reminder of just one way to keep your feminism inclusive: "We don't all have to believe in the same feminism. Feminism can be pluralistic so long as we respect the different feminisms we carry with us, so long as we give enough of a damn to try to minimize the fractures among us."
2. "At some point, you have to surrender to the kinds of privilege you hold because everyone has something someone else doesn’t."
From her essay "Peculiar Benefits": "You don't necessarily have to do anything once you acknowledge your privilege. You don't have to apologize for it. You need to understand the extent of your privilege, the consequences of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through and experience the world in ways you might never know anything about."
3. “Some women being empowered does not prove the patriarchy is dead. It proves that some of us are lucky.”
From "How We All Lose," or "Sorry, the Patriarchy Isn't Dead," an analysis of how women gaining steps toward equality does not mean men are losing anything: "What goes unsaid is that women might be more ambitious and focused because we've never had a choice. We've had to fight to vote, to work outside the home, to work in environments free of sexual harassment, to attend the universities of our choice, and we've also had to prove ourselves over and over to receive any modicum of consideration."
4. “I don’t believe in safety. I wish I did. I am not brave. I simply know what to be scared of; I know to be scared of everything. There is freedom in that fear. The freedom that makes it easier to appear fearless—to say and do what I want. I have been broken, so I am prepared should that happen again . . . You have no idea what I can take.”
From her essay "The Illusion of Safety/The Safety of Illusion": "There are a great many potential trigger warnings. Over the years, I have seen trigger warnings for eating disorders, poverty, self-injury, bullying, heteronormativity, suicide, sizeism, genocide, slavery, mental illness, explicit fiction, explicit discussions of sexuality, homosexuality, homophobia, addiction, alcoholism, racism, the Holocaust, ableism, and Dan Savage.
Life, apparently, requires a trigger warning."
5. Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be bitchy, toxic, or competitive. This myth is like heels and purseS—pretty but designed to SLOW women down.
From "How to Be Friends with Other Women": "Want nothing but the best for your friends because when your friends are happy and successful, it’s probably going to be easier for you to be happy." Shine theory, y'all.