Happy Monday all! This week’s chapters really drove some perspective home for me. In chapter 4, we read about sisterhood and how women of different backgrounds, race, and class understood and acted on what sisterhood was all about. I had to keep in mind while I was reading that this book was written nearly 40 years ago, because even though so much has changed in our growing society, so much is still the same for us and sometimes it felt like I was reading a book that was written today. We read a lot about the different ways women were trying to move the feminist movement forward, but they were all in the wrong ways. There were the women who were pushing for the “I am a victim” movement and the anti-male movement which I believe were the biggest reasons why the feminist movement was falling down. First of all, not all men want to be in the “sexist and all powerful man role”. There were men back then fighting for women’s rights, even more so now than ever. But if we had kept on the “all men are stopping us” train, then we probably wouldn’t be as far along today as we are. The victim movement was also just really disturbing to me. Especially since other women were teaching each other than they were all “victims” to men and sexism. Hooks stated on page 46 that “It would be physiologically demoralizing for these women to bond with other women on the basis of shared victimization. They bond with other women on the basis of shared strengths and resources. This is the woman bonding feminist movement should encourage. It is this type of bonding that is the essence of sisterhood”.
Chapter 5 really brings men into perspective when it comes to how they are treated as well. Men are also oppressed but not all women saw that/still don’t see that. There were so many women who believed that the feminist movement was only for women, men had nothing to do with it, but that was so so wrong. As I mentioned earlier, not all men are bad. There are more men today than there were back then that believe women should be treated just as equal. Yes we have equal rights but there are still occurrences every day that pull women back down, showing again the need for the feminist movement. There are still many places who have a man and a woman working the same job, but the woman is still getting paid less. It is our job as women to continue to think that both men and women are in this movement together. Hooks stated on page 83, “Separatist ideology encourages us to believe that women alone can make feminist revolution- we cannot…..men have a tremendous contribution to make to feminist struggle in the area of exposing, confronting, opposing, and transforming the sexism of their male peers”.
Chapter 6 was by far my favorite chapter this week. Mainly because I am all for women in powerful roles. Hooks really dives into the role of women in the workforce, the issue of women thinking all they need is more money to have more power, etc. When talking about women of power and stepping into a man’s role, Hooks mentioned on page 94 that it was never something that would happen in the United States as long as society continued to be the way it was. “As long as the United States is an imperialist, capitalist, patriarchal society, no large female majority can enter the existing ranks of the powerful”. Well I think that this chapter came at exactly the right time for us. No matter what political party you follow, no matter what race you are, the fact that for the first time in the history of our country we have a FEMALE vice president of the United States is AMAZING. If you are someone who can see above the current political party issue and just take into account what an amazing moment in history that this is for all women, then congratulations. This truly shows how much we as women have pushed forward since this book was written. Though things aren’t perfect yet in our country, this is only just the beginning for feminists everywhere. (Below are some great political comics that I think fit this piece)
In chapter 7, Hooks discussed the nature of work and how feminists can work together instead of degrading one another. She talked about how in the workforce, we commonly see women make fun of other women, especially those in a higher position than another. Though Hooks is writing this from what things were like in 1984, it is certainly very common still today in 2021. You see it not just in real life, but it is portrayed in movies and tv all the time! I think that if anything has stayed the same from any of these chapters, it is the fact that women are still catty. I’ve had to leave an amazing job because of the way women treated their other women coworkers! Hooks explains that in order to move the feminist movement in the future, women need to work together and help each other first, instead of solely fighting for ones own.
For my peers, did anything in these chapters stick out to you that I did not mention, or have you also felt as though most of the issues in these chapters have not changed/have had little improvement! Let me know what you think!
I am so glad Madison pointed out that the book is nearly 40 years old. The themes in the book’s first seven chapters occasionally struck me as dated instead of referencing the contemporary dogma of fourth wave feminism such as intersectionality and empowerment.
Madison mentions the “I am a victim” mentality and that is something that I had difficulty understanding. So much of bell hooks’ ideas centered on blaming others instead of claiming her own power.
As Madison mentions, the chapters include much anti-male ideology. As the mother of two sons and aunt to two nephews (ages 5 to 23), this is hard for me to accept. You cannot have a fair and equitable world if people are subjugated on the basis of sex (or race or religion or sexual orientation, etc…..).
To answer Madison’s question regarding if anything stuck out to me: I was shocked by the condescending scorn toward “college-educated, middle and upper class, married white women” (page 1), “leisure class white housewives” (page 2), “ materially privileged, educated, white women” (page 4), “bourgeois white women” (page 69 and others). It seems as if hooks wishes all women were uneducated, bored, financially unstable and powerless. The theme that jumped out to me was hooks seems to think her perspective is the only perspective that has merit and anyone that is not perfectly aligned with her is “less than” within their rights to have an opinion.
On page 10 hooks states contempt for white women who thought that feminism was teaching black women about sexism when black women were well aware of how they were being treated as inferior to men. I would venture a guess most women at some point have been subjected to sexism. On page 69 hooks explains that black culture assigns black women significant and valuable roles in their communities and hooks (quoting Maya Angelou) “Also, black women are the nurturers of children in our community. White women are in a different position in their social institutions”. I found this to be presumptive because the situation described (this woman keeps the church running, this woman is the cook, this woman is having a party, these women teach the kids, is exactly how my life (and the life of all my family and friends) runs. Who runs the world? Girls (women!).
Madison’s question about if things are better or worse for women’s equality than in 1984 (when the book was written) is harder to answer. Yes, we finally have a female vice president and a female ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016 (and in 1872). The pandemic has caused the unpaid housework women/ mothers/ wives overwhelmingly do (housework, chores, laundry, child care, children’s education, food prep, shopping, household budgeting) to be put under a spotlight and appreciated. Feminism is now about empowerment instead of victimhood. Those are all good. As Madison points out, women are still paid less than men for the same jobs. Women are still more often in charge of the day to day requirements that keep a household running. In a divorce situation, women are more likely to become financially disadvantaged. These are all bad. I think things are moving in the right direction just more slowly than I would hope to see.
On a separate note: I saw this last year and recommend it as a think piece: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10863966/
As Madison mentions in her post, it does seem that portions of the reading could have easily been published in a book written today. However, because I did not live through the feminist movement hooks’ writes about during my own adulthood, I’m not familiar with the idea that women were taught to be “natural enemies.” It is sad to think that this was being taught and that women ascribed to it. However, I have found that occasionally it is still true today.
I was particularly struck by hooks’ statement about how women must confront their differences in order to be united, “Divisions will not be eliminated by wishful thinking or romantic reverie about common oppression despite the value of highlighting experiences all women share.” This statement reminds me of a saying that I often say, “Love is a verb.” To show Love, we must commit to actions, not just words. Similarly, hook says that to experience the bonding of Sisterhood, “women must take the initiative and demonstrate the power of solidarity.”
I appreciate Madison’s comments about our new VP. It is amazing and wonderful that we now have a female Vice President! Part of Kamala Harris’ belief that she could be a Vice President was fed by her strong sense of justice. Serving as the California Attorney General exposed her to the injustices that all people go through. Hooks’ critiques a passage from Women, Money, and Power that says if a woman is to rise to any sort of power (i.e. a female VP in today’s terms) she would likely imitate a man and in doing so, become an oppressor of the people. I sincerely do not believe that this will be the legacy of our first female Vice President.
I agree with the statement about how women sometimes treat other women in the workplace. I have experienced the cattiness in the office that Madison mentions. It is disheartening of course and it not only happens between women, but also between men and women, which can be even more cantankerous to deal with. I agree with hooks’ statement that women need to work together. We could do so much more if we pushed each other down less and lifted each other up more.
There were quite a few points Hooks makes that stood out to me, specifically chapter 5. As Madison mentioned in her post, Hook describes the idea of men being the enemy and the anti-male perspective and how the feminist movement does not realize men are also victimized by sexism just like women. This stood out to me because men can have similar experiences, but it is not something we talk about. Also, in chapter 5 Hooks states, “This does not mean that they are better equipped to lead feminist movement; it does mean that they should share equally in resistance struggle” (p. 83). I believe men are important to the movement because relationships between men and women are important.
To be completely honest, I know little to nothing about feminism, and just what I have seen some of my peers and friends talk about or post on social media. So, all of this is fairly new to me. However, Hooks book puts feminism into perspective and dives into a lot of misconceptions about feminism. As I said above, chapter 5 stood out to me because men have similar experiences that some women still do not acknowledge and as Madison mentions not all men are bad.
Chapter 7 was my favorite chapter because Hook’s discusses how women should work together, rather than drag one another down. I have always had strong feelings about uplifting one another and working together to better each other. Like Madison mentions, women making fun of other women still happens today, but I have noticed a more encouraging generation of young adults lately. I am 23 years old, and although high school and middle school were hard for me, most of the females I went to school with all became more uplifting and started to work together rather than bully each other. The same goes for the younger generations. I see a lot of women empowerment and women (young women) uplifting each other more often than I did years ago. I believe social media has had a positive impact on women and today more and more young adults understand the concept of inspiration and influence.
Although there is a 40 year difference between our reading of this text and the book itself, there is no way we cannot draw the same connections to exactly what Hooks is referring to and our modern times. Inequality, in all of its many forms, is as present today as it was then. In response to the curator’s question, I do believe we have seen significant change in the last 40 years. There wouldn’t be a female biracial vice president taking office if that weren’t true. I believe we’ve come so far, but at the same time, obviously not far enough. We’re still discussing these same issues 40 years later.
I like how the curator referred to there being more men supporting the feminist movement. We saw in chapter 3 that there is a correlation between all of the movements and inequalities. It’s hard to see the sexual inequality and not see the racial inequality or economic inequality. They are all related, and that’s why I believe we see more men, and more people for that matter, supporting the feminist movement.
I was very interested to read chapter 5 and how Hooks connected feminism to men. I feel it’s so important not to undermine or diminish men in the quest for equality. It’s so easy, in all forms of inequality, to diminish one group based on our strong support of the other group. Not all men are sexist. Not all white people are supremacists. Not all rich people are snobs to the lower classes. It’s so important to support the movement, but not to become bullies and lose sight of the goal in the process. The feminist movement doesn’t wish to overpower men, but rather to bring themselves to a man’s level (as society deems it) as equals in society, the workplace and life.