Chapter 8 & 9

15 Feb

bell hooks starts diving into a new issue with the feminist movement, where the spread of their ideologies and thoughts were mostly found in written words – books, pamphlets, and different public papers. This had a direct effect on illiterate women all over the country, especially women who could gain from the movement overall. Education is apart of the feminist agenda but it creates more of a divide between intellectual  women  and women who are not able to get a seat in these discussions. It was difficult for women to even receive public funding for classes, they were to seek out sponsorships or get help from small literacy programs. The feminist movement was more affluent in higher education, where college students were learning and discussing while other women all over were unable to read and understand these ideas.  Charlotte Bunch explains the political importance of literacy, how reading and writing are vital to change; also breaks down the process of where knowing how to read and write can take an individual, when it comes to coming up with new ideas, being able to carry conversation about the movement, and having the ability to think for themselves. hooks brings up the tasks college students within women’s studies courses fulfill to spread the feminist theories in a better way than books, which is word of mouth. At first the women were not comfortable with approaching strangers but in intention to take feminism out of universities these women went door to door to reintroduce feminist politics to a wider audience. Verbal communication like hooks says is the best way to circulate thoughts, soon they started women’s studies courses closer to common folk, like local community centers, YM/WCA and churches. Bringing back up the issue with written works for the feminist movement, hooks adds that leaders and educators within the movement should learn to write and educate in a way where many people can understand and learn from; complex styles usually reach a small audience.

There is a disconnect between feminist intellectuals and anti- intellectuals, hooks calls it a “tug- of- war” between theory and practice. The feminist movement is led by individuals of a bourgeois class background which leads to women in higher education to have more attention than illiterate women in need. The cutoff between ideas and practices creates an issue with participants understanding theories and bourgeois class intellectuals developing ideas without “relation to lived experiences.” hooks leaves off with that women need to embrace education, think critically and systematically about women’s roles, women’s control, and feminism as a whole.

Chapter 9 opens up the discussion of the feminist movement bringing attention to male violence against women; the movement has taken initiative to create shelters for women that were suffering form domestic violence. Feminists believe that this violence is directly linked to the politics of sexism and male supremacy, feeding into the “right” of men to dominate women. hooks adds in Susan Schecter to explain how male dominance in society encourages violence against women; through families, enforced by institutions and economic arrangements. hooks agrees with Schecter but also believes that the violence is apart of many other occurrences between the “powerful and powerless,” she explains that we need to understand that both men and women are capable of violence to avoid the idea of women always being labeled the victim and men the abuser. hooks then tests this concept of men overpowering women on lesbian relationships, if men are the abusers is the argument what do we have to say about same sex relationships; hooks concludes it makes no difference and that our relationships are naturally based on power and domination. hooks uses John Hodges to explain how society accepts the “traditional western family” of having the male dominant and the authoritative rule over others like children in households. Hodges goes on to explain that the accepted norm of adults have power over nonadults and males having power over females, are just examples of how our dualist culture is ironically a hierarchal rule. hooks brings in the patriarchal male rule, how times have changed overtime where men explicitly overpowered women to men turning into “workers” (benefitting the capitalist state) to become more of a provider for families. This follows behind the idea – false narrative – that if you provide for the family you now have the authority; this is tested when women begin to learn to read and write and now can work. hooks talks about a concept of “cycle of violence” where men are at work being chastised by their employers, but are not able to retaliate because of consequences; these men knowing there are no issues in letting anger out at home in their own space, tend to lash out at women because there is no fear. hooks explains there is no surprise because of what is shown by media, she provides examples of magazines and tv shows that affirm that violent men are rewarded and praised when they “save” the women. hooks wraps up the conversation with how the feminist movement must change their ideology of male supremacy is the result of violence against women and understand that to see a change overall they must take initiative to end all types of violence.

What institutions today still implement the heirarchal rule between men and women?

How does sexist ideology play a role in how males are dominating women in sexual relationships?

How is pornography an example of how we have equated violence with love?

7 Replies to “Chapter 8 & 9

  1. I think many institutions today still implement the hierarchal rule between men and women because we still live in a patriarchal society. Still today, we have never had a woman president. As of Jan. 2021, there are 24 women senators out of 100 total. In total, five women have served as supreme court justices. While we are making slow progress with representation in politics, there is still so much to be done.
    Sexist ideology and gendered attitudes/beliefs endorse men’s domination and control over women and women’s decisions in various aspects. Women influenced by sexist thinking may believe they need to act a certain way in order to please and cater towards men–giving them “what they want.” Men influenced by this thinking believe they can take on certain roles and may even take advantage of women in these situations. This could lead to domination in sexual relationships.
    Gloria Steinem has provided important etymological knowledge when it comes to pornography: “”Pornography” begins with a root “porno,” meaning “prostitution” or “female captives,” thus letting us know that the subject is not mutual love, or love at all, but domination and violence against women.” (Erotica and Pornography: A Clear and Present Difference by Gloria Steinem). For people who watch this kind of pornography, it naturalizes the image of violence against women and desensitizes them to the horror of this. When domination is mistaken for love, the possibility of a healthy, fulfilling, caring, and trusting relationship is no longer feasible.

  2. Thank you, Tamar, for this analysis and such intriguing questions. These two chapters were very interesting and thought-provoking. I had to stop and reflect on the discussion and issues that Hooks raise. I had never thought about how the feminist movement’s ideologies and ideas spreading through books, pamphlets, and different types of written public papers, was going to create a big disparity among those less educated and illiterate women. Of course, I was not aware of the percentage of women that lacked an educational background at these times, but it is now obvious that not many had the privileged, especially minorities, marginalized and oppressed groups. Also, it was surprising how she concluded that our relationships are naturally based on power and domination no matter the sex of each partner. She said that she tested it in a lesbian relationship, I think it would have been interesting if she had also tested a gay couple to further destigmatize the women always being labeled the victim and men the abuser. Now to answer your questions, I find that this sexist ideology that men dominate women in sexual relationships is fueled by the pornography industry. Porn is normalizing violence and abusive relationship. The rise of access to the internet has raised the access to these sites which has definitely distorted men’s views on sexual relationships and erodes their views on women. This article on the Fight the New Drug organization website was very interesting and really captured how the rise in popularity of pornography has harmed women.

  3. I think that you struck some powerful points that Bell Hooks made in Chapter 8 and 9, along with raising some very interesting questions. Chapter 8’s focus on the feminist struggle against sexism in educational institutions and childhood socialization was eye opening to see how women were exploited. The component of education was crucial to the feminist movement that I did not fully understand. The political importance of literacy in women so that the ideologies that challenged societal norms were able to be translated and made aware to everyone. The mission and immediate need to advertise the goals of the movement was dependent on female education. Another aspect of education was the educational institutions especially in universities, to be able to teach feminism to students. Hooks said it best when she said “education is the practice of freedom”. You posed a great question regarding gendered institutions that I believe to still be very present today. For example I think that it very prominent in politics and religion. Although progress has been made such as having the first female Vice President, we still see it is rare to see female figures in supreme courts, and higher political positions. Chapter 9’s focus on male violence against women was very captivating as it is still a very evident issue in male and female relationships. Male supremacy is the right of men to dominate women which is directly associated with the idea that men feel more powerful and act in violence to dominate their partner. The outdated gender roles still play a role in the idea that the women is inferior to her counterpart. Sexist ideologies of females being weak is a key contributor to men feeling like they have a right to act violently toward females to maintain control.

  4. Going along with your dialogue on chapter 8, the concept of feminist ideologies being spread mostly through written works and to those who are privileged enough to receive a higher education, I think we must address the very prominent issue of sources. Especially in today’s world with social media. I believe we often find ourselves filling our feeds with dialogue that reflects our beliefs. This is not always a bad thing, we find comfort in seeing things we agree with and we don’t want to spend our whole lives in disagreement or an unsupportive environment. But having a one-sided view on issues can lead to a paralleled problem to that of not having the resources one needs to learn.
    Along with biased information on social media preventing intellectual dialogue and the lack of exposer to correct information about theory such tunnel views lead to a skewed view on topics such as sex. To address your question about pornography and its role in equating violence with love, media plays a huge role in the ideology of violence. Men are of course shaped just like the rest of us by the media and social expectations that are forced upon them. One being their “job” to be powerful, strong, and in charge. If a man is all of these things he is “attractive”. The transition from “protecting” the “weaker sex” (women) using his “strength and power” to controlling what women do use violence is a thin line. This leads to men using their power for women to using their power on women especially when it comes to romantic relationships

  5. I believe many institutions today still implement the hierarchal rule between men and women, because it is so ingrained in our history as a capitalist country. Although we have made small strides, male dominance in institutions and beyond remains a problem.
    I believe sexist ideology plays a role in how men dominate women in sexual relationships because we have been taught all of our lives, in ways both visible and covert, what the dynamic of gender roles means for each of us. I believe these ideas we have heard manifest themselves in all of our relationships, whether it be sexual or platonic. Men are supposed to be “manly” and women are supposed to be “ladylike”, and although steps have been made, people are still teaching this antiquated idea of gender to their children, and it will surround them all their life. The cyclical nature of the harm that happens due to the rigid nature of gender roles is scary, because without radical change it seems like it will never end.
    I think pornography is an example of how we have equated violence with love is because these two ideas are tangled together in pornographic films. Often, violent acts like hitting, spanking, or choking are seen as normal sexual acts in many of these films. The normalization of this kind of violence in a sexual setting conflates the two concepts, so that sex (and assuming love) and violence are equated. If sex is supposed to be based on a love attraction, pornography combines love, sex, and violence.

  6. In reference to your section question, sexist ideology establishes a basis to which males are expected to act towards women in sexual relationships. The socialization of men as strong, assertive figures extends in a sexual context and forces women into the submissive role. This power dynamic is expected and any variance to it is considered outside of the norm and shamed (both parties shamed though most of the criticism often is aimed at the woman). If a woman were to take on the dominant role in a heterosexual couple, the woman is considered “too tough” or “man-like” while the man is referred to as “effeminate.” This concept of men as the dominant force in a sexual relationship invades into relationships where there are no men present. Many lesbian couples experience a constant barrage from male figures attempting to “join” them to control the situation as the two women are objectified. In addition, sexist ideologies back the common statement that a man needs to “teach” a woman how to experience a sexual relationship (regardless of the woman’s sexuality). All of these ideas are encouraged in the pornography industry and violence is used as a display of force and control over the woman.

  7. Pornography is an example of how society has equated violence with love because sex is also equated to love. The narrow minded, heteronormative, view of love that describes the relationship between a man and a women is on the basis of power. The majority of the power is given to the male because it is expected that they express domination over others and the woman is expected to play into this in order to protect the male ego. They are meant to be subservient to their male counterparts. It also believes that dominance and aggression are expressions of love. Therefore, in a dark twisted way the more aggression means the more your partner loves and cares for you. When transferring this over to pornography, violent porn has seemed to become more of a norm and acceptable. Things such as Fifty Shades of Grey would not have been nearly as acceptable in the past but now it’s almost normal for females to openly express their fantasies of being dominated and sometimes abused. I think it stems from the ideas of the ideal stereotypical male that is strong, handsome and most importantly manly which is equated to dominance. From the male’s perspective, it would be viewed as erotic for a women to be in a position of extreme subservience because it would give the male complete and total control over the women. It exposes how both men and women view sexual relationships.

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