Roxane Gay at the 2018 Beatty Memorial Lecture
On October 11th of 2018, a chorus of applause precedes the entrance of the unordained saint, Roxane Gay, who was quoted stating she was there to talk about “things.”
Opening with an excerpt from her newest book Hunger, which is a memoir about her body, she began in a light and humorous tone that echoed her usual writing style and prompted the audience to laugh along with her relatable anecdotes about hating exercise. Gay offers an alternative lens on the popular topic of weight, in that she speaks about her own experience harboring a body type that is rarely accepted by societal standards. Her musings on the topic functioned as an introduction and allowed for an easy transition into the stark contrast of what she called, “the state of the world today”, which is “not funny.”
Here she refers to the numerous “men who are trash”, a topic that is all too familiar in the wake of #metoo. These men being the ones accused of sexual assault and had the audacity to deny it, then asking for the public’s pity on how they were the ones who were wronged. Gay offers her point of view with an articulation that leaves listeners saying “yaaassss queen”, because she says what every feminist is thinking; #metoo sparks hope that “women would not only be heard, but believed” even though real progress has been exhaustingly slow.
She comments on how “justice seemed like a real tangible thing, rather than a vague illusory ideal”, except that instead, attention has only been shed on the “injustice” of men falling from grace. Men often write about how their lives have been ruined through this movement, with no regard for the lives they have ruined.
“They reserve their empathy for themselves rather than for women because as a culture, we expect women to suffer.”
Leading her to speak on, that’s right, the Kavanaugh case. In which she addresses how disheartening it was to watch Christine Blasey Ford, a psychological researcher and professor, give a testimony tightly framed with credibility, and still not be believed. Brett Kavanaugh went on to be confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
“We should be able to move through this world freely, safe and strong ... unfettered by the chronic malignancy that is misogyny.”
Her breadth of topics extends into race, something she continues to write about tirelessly. Gay opens a conversation with the audience on the challenges of moving through this society as a marginalized person, acknowledging how it is okay and necessary for women of colour to be selfish. Gay remarks specifically on the importance of resisting salvation narratives, as minority groups are frequently burdened with saving the contemporary world.
Roxane Gay unapologetically spoke her truth at the 2018 Beatty Memorial Lecture, and without a doubt her words resonate deeply with her fanbase of exhausted, infuriated feminists.
By Brenda Odria