Hooks, Chapters 8, 9, and 10

I was excited to be assigned the three chapters of bell hooks’ book that deal with education, parenthood and ending violence as these are three subjects near to my heart. I am a parent, work in education and support tougher penalties for domestic violence.


Hooks opens chapter 8 describing that feminism is often the domain of college-educated women and points out that there are those in society that are unable to read or write. The National Center for Education Statistics states roughly 20% of Americans are illiterate1.  As much of the feminist ideals were first shared via written communication, those unable to read were left out and notes there are places in the US where people have never heard the word “feminist”. Hooks makes a strong case that teaching illiterate people to read and write should be a focus of the feminist movement. This article on the characteristics of white supremacy culture lists “worship of the written words” as a barrier to equity which supports hooks’ theory.


Hooks states that feminism is often treated as theory in college instead of being a way of life for the average household. Long-held traditional sex roles are not challenged since people do not know they can or should be challenged.  Two easy positive ways for feminist ideals to be disseminated would be as simple as feminists getting out and talking to people about the issues and making educational seminars available to the general public.  A more complex way to communicate ideas is to make sure the scholarly writings are accessible and easily understood by those with less than an advanced degree.


An issue that feminists have to overcome is the separation of “thinking” (theory) and “doing” (praxis).  Theorists have made some ideals so lofty that they cannot be put into practice and are put down by the activists (doers).  The activists can be so anti-intellectual that they ignore all theories and the critical thinking that requires a plan to effect real change.  Both theory and practice are needed.  The theorists must make their ideas accessible to the common person and the activists must take the time to consider the ramifications of their work. Both of these issues would be helped by being able to read, write and communicate effectively but also clearly.


Chapter 9 delves deep into the feminist ideals of ending violence against women as part of ending all violence.  Because this movement has focused on men as abusers and women as victims the argument does not fully encompass how both sexes can be abusive and how both sexes allow the abuse.  The person causing the harm often has tacit approval to commit the harm especially in a home setting where the father figure is abusive to the woman and children in the home.  Hooks maintains that women are more likely to use “coercive authority” (threats) than men while men are more likely to use physical violence than women but both need to be stopped.  Hooks points out that in lesbian relationships there can also be violence or coercion and believes this is due to one partner having power over the other which proves all violence is connected.  Male violence against women is a way that men extert control over women and helps them maintain their dominance.  This type of violence is often the most accepted and unpunished type of violence.  In the US’s past, the male dominance extended to fathers telling their daughters what (if any) type of education the girl could get, who and when they were to marry and if they were allowed to work and I believe it happens in other parts of the world currently. As the US became more capitalist and less agricultural, men lost the complete control over their wives and children but home violence did not cease.  As women entered the workforce, men lost their power of being the sole wage earner and began to assert more violence to retain their power.


Hooks states that black men perpetuate a cycle of violence.  This starts with the man being humiliated at work due to racism but unable to “fight back” because he needs the job.  The man goes home and abuses his female partner. He gets relief from the anger and humiliation and due to male dominance he will not face any retribution from the female.  Some women see the violence as a sign of love.  Parents teach children that violence is acceptable by spanking a child and allowing a child to witness physical violence in the home.  Entertainment glories violence especially when the woman has any kind of power (hooks uses the word “uppity” on page 124).  Hooks believes that black women see physical abuse as another type of oppression they have no control over. Hooks believes militarism is linked to male dominance but is careful to point out that women can support the military and use of military force. 


The part I found most interesting was “dualist thinking” which is thinking men are strong and violent and women are weak and gentle.  This sets up an abuser/victim situation that supports sexism because women are treated as objects that are incapable of making decisions.  This idea is a common theme in the book.


To end violence both sexes must stop thinking violence is part of a loving relationship, learn how to resolve disagreements calmly, and reject male domination over women.  Feminists need to work to make these ideals commonplace.

Chapter 10 opens with hooks again asserting that feminism only discussed white, middle-class, college-educated views on parenthood being an oppressive obstacle.  In black culture motherhood was less of a problem than oppressions such as racism, lack of education, skills and jobs. Hooks states white women and black women are often directly opposed to needs-white women want to work outside the home for pay and black women want to be home nurturing their family without the need for paid employment.


Feminist interest in motherhood is both positive and negeative.  A positive aspect is more research is being done to promote and support parenthood.  A negative aspect is if motherhood is romanticized it can fall prey to male supremacy-that a woman’s value is only motherhood.  To combat these issues motherhood must be recognized as significant and valuable but not obligatory or oppressive.


For equality to exist, men must share in parenting.  Hooks makes the point that men can/will not share in parenting until they are taught from birth that fatherhood is as important as motherhood.  Fathers that do participate fully in childcare are considered extraordinary and/or a poor copy of mothers.  This is detrimental because it denies the child access to both parents and puts the entire burden of childcare on the woman.


Some feminists do not want women to give up control that motherhood can bring. Feminists need to help society realize that equal parenting gives children more male role models, reduces the stigma that parenthood is solely a woman’s domain, reduces sexism and male dominance and helps men be more responsible.  Couples considering having children need to discuss these issues before they have children.


Hooks states that tax funded public child care with both male and female teachers is needed and believes this should be a future platform for feminists. In addition, community child care is needed-where adults look out for all children whether they are related to the child or not.  This is similar to the “It takes a village to raise a child”.  Hooks notes she does not have children but does spend time with children.

These chapters were interesting and I learned about a different perspective.




1Adult Literacy in the United States, nces.ed.gov/datapoints/2019179.asp. https://nces.ed.gov/datapoints/2019179.asp



  1. Brianna Reyes

    I found this week’s chapters interesting and overall informative because Hook’s provides readers with an understanding of the feminist movement to end violence, on parenting, and education. Although I am not a parent, all these topics are important to me. First, I would like to acknowledge the information Christina provided on education because it gives a recent percentage of Americans who are illiterate. Chapter 8 was interesting because Hooks discusses the importance of education and how the main goal of the feminist movement is to inspire women to strive for education.
    Furthermore, as Christina mentions the argument Hooks makes about the feminist idea of ending violence against women focuses on men being the abusers, but both sexes can be abusive. Some people often ignore the idea that women can be the abuser and like Christina also points out, Hooks does mention in lesbian relationships violence can still occur. Hooks also mentions how women entering the workforce has resulted in men relying on violence to maintain dominance. Hooks also mentions when men were the only wage earners their dominance was established. I also agree with Christina, “to end violence both sexes must stop thinking violence is a part of a loving relationship.”
    Hooks discusses how the problem is motherhood is being romanticized in chapter 10. Hooks discusses how men should share the parenting role with women, but some women also have an issue giving up that role of being the sole care provider and parent. Hooks also mentions how women who don’t bear a child are viewed differently and she states “feminist activists reinforce central tenets of a male supremacist ideology. They imply that motherhood is a woman’s truest that women who do not mother, whose lives may be focused more exclusively on a career, creative work, or political work, are missing out, are doomed to live emotionally unfulfilled lives.” This is narrow-minded thinking in my opinion. Men and women should equally contribute to the roles of parenting and like Hooks states, children need a community and are not individual possession.

    • Christina Farmer

      Thank you Brianna for your reply. I appreciate it. You and I seem to be on the same page about many of the issues. I would be interested in hard data about whether domestic abuse increased or decreased in the same numbers as women returning to work. I think that data would be difficult to compile because of so many variables? Is violence increasing or just being reported more? Is violence decreasing or are working women too afraid to threaten their jobs and reputation by reporting? T

    • Christina Farmer

      Thank you Brianna for your reply. I appreciate it. You and I seem to be on the same page about many of the issues. I would be interested in hard data about whether domestic abuse increased or decreased in the same numbers as women returning to work. I think that data would be difficult to compile because of so many variables? Is violence increasing or just being reported more? Is violence decreasing or are working women too afraid to threaten their jobs and reputation by reporting? These three chapters had some very thought provoking issues.

  2. Emily Hobbs

    I found this section of reading particularly interesting because, like Christy, I am also in the education field and strongly value the role education plays in awareness, upbringing and the stigmas of society. Like Hooks points out in chapter 8, the feminist movement is directed towards educated women and the poor and illiterate are often left out of the movement. This is true of all movements and oppressions, not just feminism. Education is so important because knowledge is truly power, and to be without that knowledge can make you inadvertently powerless.
    There are boys and girls in communities of violence, verbal abuse, racial oppression and sexist oppression who see these problems as normal. The knowledge outside of their grasp holds truth that could set them free from the cycle of violence, oppression and abuse. I believe in elementary education and early education to reach children at a young age with the knowledge of equality, empathy, compassion, and kindness. I believe that teaching children with these ideals, as well as academic knowledge, would make our world a very different and better place.
    A lot of the anger and violence that turns sweet children into unhinged adults starts in the home, with abuse from both parents and a harsh school environment. Hooks in chapter 9 discusses this very thing, describing abuse from both sexes and the oppressive male violence that often dominates over women. Teaching children how to deal with emotions, how to argue and discuss things civilly and how to reject male domination is exactly what Hooks proposes to fight this oppression on the home front.

    • Christina Farmer

      Thank you for your reply, Emily. I agree with you that education should be started early. It is a shame that so many problems start at home and teachers are called up again to heal society’s problems. Teaching children to properly handle emotions is huge. It SHOULD be taught at home but if parents never learned how to discuss problems civilly and work together then they cannot teach that to children.

  3. Madison Dean

    This was my favorite week of reading so far, and I think that Christy did an amazing job at summarizing the chapters for us. The topic that stood out to me the most was Chapter 9 which covered the violence between man and woman. Something that I am super passionate about is the unspoken violence against men from women. We see a lot in the media about the violence against women and how women are always the victims when in reality, men are being abused in relationships just as much. The only reason why we don’t hear about it is because of the media, and also because I believe that men are afraid to speak up. From other readings i’ve done in the past on this topic, men feel as though if they speak up about the abuse they are/have experienced, they will feel and be seen as less of a man. It is so sad to think about that because so many men are abused and we have no idea. I am well aware of the abuse towards women, and I am in no way saying that the abuse towards men is more important, I just believe that men needed to be seen equally in this subject because without that equality, men will continue to suffer just as much as when women did not have a voice.
    I also enjoyed reading chapter 8 about women in education. As a young woman who will be going into the education field, I feel very strongly that it is a female dominated field. Though most people still see it as “it is the woman’s job to teach the children and that is why there are so many female teachers”, I disagree. I think that this field is female dominated because females tend to have that caretaking instinct towards children by nature, pulling us to be attracted to that field. I love when I see males in the education field because it shows how inclusive this field is!

    • Christina Farmer

      Madison, thank you for your comments. While I may be showing my age, there was a Friends episode called “The one with the girl that hits Joey” and the synopsis is: “Joey dates a girl who likes to playfully punch him but she doesn’t realize she punches him too hard and Joey is reluctant to tell her.” If the genders were reversed, would this still be considered comedy? I once saw a college movie and the male student agreed to have sex with his much older professor for a passing grade. I was with friends that thought this was hilarious (the professor looked about 125 years old & the student was 20). I asked “If the student was female would you still be laughing?” and they all got quiet. This topic tugs at my heart because I am a mother of 2 sons that will be 23 (tomorrow) and should turn 21 in June.


  4. Gina Flanagan

    I am of the same mind as Christy when it comes to three chapters of hooks’ book about feminist movement education, to end violence, and to educate. I am also a parent, work in education and would be supportive of realistic domestic violence penalties.
    Feminist movement education should begin at a young age but in a way that children can understand, without it being sexualized. Most children are able to go to elementary school before they are forced to quit school. Some may feel the burden and pressure of having to work to support their families or are no longer supported by their families in their education endeavor. Younger children really have no choice. I agree with Hooks that education is key. Why not make some children’s books the subject of how male supremacy is wrong and what that looks like? It can be done in a way that protects the innocence of the young reader. Even though college-educated women are the predominant consumers of feminist movement theories, they are needed in society. The fact that women’s studies are a major component of many liberal arts institutions’ offerings is positive and necessary. The existence in itself shows that feminist ideals are worthy of learning about and have a place among business and leadership classes in a curriculum.
    In Chapter 9, hooks talks about the cycle of violence and how some men will take out their aggressions, shortcomings, frustrations in general out on their wife or their children. They know that this is a safe place for them vent and are often not called out or punished by law. This chapter made me think about why battered women often stay with an abusive partner. The violence cycle can, if repeated enough over time, make women and children feel less than in such a way that they can begin to believe something is wrong with them, or that they deserve the mistreatment. The woman/mother can get so hung up on the connection between being cared for, even if just having a roof over her head or food on the table, and the violence that is attached to it, it can be hard for her to find a way head – literally and figuratively.
    The most interesting statement in this chapter rang very real to me, as I experienced this in my own failed marriage. Hooks’ talks about how some parents offer a “notion of love synonymous with the absence of explanation and discussions.” My sons’ father often felt disrespected and angry when our children were very young and especially as teenagers, wanted to openly discuss issues that they did not understand or agree with. Exactly as hooks points out, their father viewed that as a “challenge to his parental authority” and saw it as an act of “unlove.” This was very hurtful to watch as a co-parent and this disagreement between us, about how to talk through problem solving, ultimately led to the end of our relationship. I agree with Christy’s statement that we must stop thinking that there is any room for violence in a loving relationship. Moreover, these ideals need to be taught at an early age, to break the cycle.
    In Chapter 10, I was very interested to learn of hooks’ belief that those who are able to have children should consider not having their own child and think about caring for a child that needs a family. If not adoption, then supporting a single mother in their community who could use another person in their children’s life to look up to, be supportive and help to provide a greater sense of community, and has a positive influence on them. As an adopted child, I could not be happier that my parents chose me and raised me in a loving home! Neither were able to conceive and so all of us were quite lucky to have been in such a situation.

    • Christina Farmer

      Thank you for your reply, Gina. I appreciate how open and honest you are about your own past. These stories put the theories we are learning about into perspective–these things are real, happening now and happening in our own neighborhoods. I love your idea about teaching children about the feminist movement. The more open we are with children about ending female oppression, the more likely it will become a way of life.

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