Author: bell hooks
Title: Feminism is for everybody : passionate politics
Publication Info: Cambridge, MA : South End Press, c2000.
Previously read by the same author: All About Love: New Visions
This book is a short primer on feminism that bell hooks always wanted but had to write it since it didn’t exist. hooks lays down the basic concepts and theory on feminism and how it intersects with race, class, and lesbianism, among other things. It’s a book that at times is also very critical of some ways in which feminism is practiced. hooks makes an interesting distinction between feminism that seeks to advance individual women in careers, education, and politics without challenging the system within which they exist – what hooks defines as “reform feminism” and notes is beneficial mostly to privileged white women – and a “revolutionary feminism” which seeks to overturn patriarchal systems and create feminist alternatives. It’s also a personal book as hooks recalls her own feminist journey from the earliest consciousness raising through various conflicts. It’s a great introduction to feminism if you’re interested in learning more about the theory and practice, especially since feminism is all too often defined by its opponents.
From the outset, reformist white women with class privilege were well aware that the power and freedom they wanted was the freedom they perceived men of their class enjoying. Their resistance to patriarchal male domination in the domestic household provided them with a connection they could use to unite across class with other women who were weary of male domination. But only privileged women had the luxury to imagine working outside the home would actually provide them with an income which would entitle them to be economically self-sufficient. Working-class women already knew the wages the received would not liberate them. – p. 38
While visionary feminist thinkers have understood our need for a broad-based feminist movement, one that addresses the needs of girls and boys, women and men, across class, we have not produced a body of visionary feminist theory written in an accessible language or shared through oral communication. Today in academic circles much of the most celebrated feminist theory is written in a sophisticated jargon that only the well-educated can read. Most people in our society do not have a basic understanding of feminism; they cannot acquire that understanding from a wealth of diverse material, grade school-level primers, and so on, because this material does not exist. We must create it if we are to rebuild feminist movement that is truly for everyone.
Feminist advocates have not organized resources to ensure that we have television stations or consistent spots on existing stations. There is no feminist news hour on any television or radio show. One of the difficulties we faced spreading the word about feminism is that anything having to do with the female gender is seen as covering feminist ground even if it does not contain a feminist perspective. We do have radio shows and a few television shows that highlight gender issues, but that is not that same as highlighting feminism. Ironically one of the achievements of contemporary feminism is that everyone is more open to discussing gender and the concerns of women, but again, not necessarily from a feminist perspective. – p. 112