Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression

V. bell hooks: A Definition of Feminism[Again]

“Feminist Politics”

“Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression,” p. 1.

A.  Assumption

“Most people do not understand sexism, or if they do, they think it is not a problem,” p. 1

Common perceptions: feminism seeks equality for women (with men); feminism is anti-male (male bashing)

Why do such misperceptions persist? according to hooks, “The patriarchal mass media,” p. 1

Equality feminists are presented, usually white and with economic (material) privilege

Feminist goals are assumed to be gender equity in the workplace as well as freedom to be lesbian, have abortions, challenge rape and domestic violence, p. 2

Christian nation means that the masses tend to “believe that god has ordained that women be subordinate to men in the domestic household,” p. 2

This holds whether or not there is a man in the household

Why? Because women sustain sexist thinking and practices

Thus, just as the anti-maleness of feminism is wrong, so, too, is the assumption that “all female space” would be free of patriarchy or sexist thinking

The problem is sexist thinking and action, no matter who is the speaker or actor. Men, women, children, adults, etc.

There is “systemic institutionalized sexism”

Differences = domination and exploitation of women by women (too)

B. Assumption

Sisterhood utopia was disrupted by recognition of the realities of race and class

“Sisterhood could not be powerful as long as women were competitively at war with one another,” p. 3

Black women active as feminists from the beginning but did not rise to represent the movement

Revolutionary feminists (black and many white lesbians) against reformist feminists

Fundamental change vs. wanting what men had! (equality or lifestyle feminists)

Meaning? Accept the system—a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy

Revolutionary feminist visions changed

Why?

“It [theory] became and remains a privileged discourse available to those among us who are highly literate, well-educated, and usually materially privileged,” p. 5

Reformist feminists were also keen to silence revolutionary feminist voices

And they had women to do the dirty work for them

Lifestyle feminism: anyone could fit feminism into her existing lifestyle! (p.6)

Feminism in this sense did not require changing selves or society

“Feminist politics is losing momentum because feminist movement has lost clear definitions,” p. 6

C. What to do?

Remember the definition and make it known

Raise consciousness (again)

“Feminists are made, not born,” p. 7

“Like all political positions one becomes a believer in feminist politics through choice and action,” p. 7

What is the threat (not the male comrade but the female wedded to sexist thinking)?

“The enemy within must be transformed before we can confront the enemy outside. The threat, the enemy, is sexist thought and behavior,” p. 12

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