Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (South End Press Classics Series)
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Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (South End Press Classics Series)

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  2,926 ratings  ·  106 reviews
hooks suggests that feminists have not succeeded in creating a mass movement against sexist oppression because the very foundation of women's liberation has not accounted for the complexity and diversity of female experience.
Paperback, Second Edition, 179 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by South End Press (first published 1984)
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Christy
Reading this book immediately following hooks' first book, Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism reveals how much a writer and theorist can develop in just a few years. Where Ain't I a Woman suffered because of underdeveloped points and undertheorized intersections of class with race and gender, Feminist Theory from Margin to Center shines. Hooks here works to re-define feminism in a way that opens up the movement to women and men of all race and class backgrounds and allows feminism to work...more
Michael
I just finished this book, and I found it challenging (in the sense that it challenges some generally accepted notions) and very thoughtful and well-written. She argues that mainstream feminism, which has been dominated by middle and upper-class white women, has not opened its doors adequately to non-white and working class women. she argues that part of the reason the movement has failed is because there has been an internalization of the sexist oppression paradigm by the leaders of the feminis...more
Skipper Ritchotte
bell hooks kicked open the door, and said that feminism was pretty much available in only one flavor, making it difficult, if not impossible, for women of other races and classes to join in. Feminism lacked diversity (barring lip service) because it didn't accommodate all women. It did not hear or see women whose lives did not mirror those of middle or upper class, college-educated Caucasian women.

Then she broke down the next door and declared that no one even knew what Feminism was. It's not b...more
Hira
Incredible book. Examines the issues around women liberation through the lens of race, class, and gender, and shows in amazing detail how ignoring just one of these would diminish the possibilities of the entire movement. One thing that I am absolutely reveling in is the way how bell hooks advocates for wholeness, how its not men who are the enemy but the whole capitalistic ethos that puts aggressive competition as its ultimate ideal. How even women can be oppressors, in family, at work, and on...more
Alex
more bell hooks brilliance as usual. written in 84, this one criticizes the (white-dominated) feminist movement of the time, and provides another important stepping stone from the Second Wave to the Third Wave of Feminism.

also includes brilliant sections like this passage from page 121:

"Patriarchal male rule took on an entirely different character in the context of advanced capitalist society... As workers, most men in our culture (like working women) are controlled, dominated. Unlike working wo...more
Genelle Denzin
This book really helped me see the complex relationship between sexism and racism. And my place as not only someone who suffers oppression as a woman, but also as a white woman, someone who benefits from the racist oppression of others and therefore causes suffering in others.
Criss
It took me a while, but I finally finished it. It took a while not because I didn't want to read it, but rather because it was so deep I wanted to read it when I could devote a hefty chunk of time to read it and process the info.

My copy has a bazillion pink and yellow tabs sticking out of it; all the spots I want to quote and blog about later. So many truths in that book... too bad about the author.

I have not researched this, but I heard it from someone whose intel I trust. bell hooks, while par...more
Andrew
What I like about bell hooks is how commonsense her approach is. She breaks down the situation, simply and directly, criticizing some of the contradictions that have plagued liberation struggles while still showing that they have merit. Unlike Marcuse, who was simply content to mock and giggle and suggest that nothing does anything ever, she is deadly serious about wanting to generate real-world solutions.

My main concern is that she works at such a grand, theoretical scale that I don't think her...more
Fred
I used to think feminist theory was really important to study and learn about. And then John Mayer wrote a song that made it all unnecessary:

"Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too"
Elyssa
I read this book in college and it greatly altered my thinking about feminism. I found the radical feminist approach enlightening. It was especially eye-opening to consider the viewpoint and experiences of women of color and women of varying economic backgrounds.
Rakan
في كتابها "النظرية النسوية: من الهامش إلى المركز" تنتقد بيل هووك الخطاب النسوي السائد (نسوية الموجة الثانية) وتدعو إلى خطاب أكثر إتساعاً وتسامحاً يشمل الأقليات الإثنية، وأصحاب الميول المثلية، ونساء الطبقات الفقيرة، والرجال، وغيرهم. كما ترى أن الخطاب -كما هو عليه الآن- بلغ من الحِدة ما لا يطاق، وأن هذا أدى إلى إنخفاض شعبيته بين العامة. تدعو هوك كذلك النسويات إلى إعادة النظر في مفهوم القوة كما يُعرّفه الرجال (مرادفاً للسيطرة) وأن يتم إستثمار الجوانب الأخرى كالقوة الشرائية مثلاً، بالإضافة إلى مراجع...more
Brittany
Jun 26, 2013 Brittany rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People who want to know more about feminist theory and practice today & historically
Although this book presented a critical challenge to feminist orthodoxy at the time it was published, it has ironically become the contemporary feminist party line. There are some aspects of this book I find praiseworthy and other elements I find problematic, but regardless of which arguments fall in which categories, I think today's feminists would do well to take up hooks's call to continually re-evaluate whatever the hegemonic consensus of the day is.

On the positive side, hooks is excellent a...more
Rachel
hooks is really nice because she conveys somewhat difficult theory with clear language that doesn't make you feel like someone is calling you retarded over and over again. she's really good at incorporating a lot of different third wave fem theory like identity politics and socialist feminisms, however doesn't quite seal the deal when it comes to being reflexive. she drops the ball on lgbt issues and multi-national feminisms, which disappoints me since she is so critical of feminisms that are to...more
Sarah
A necessary, eye-opening read that I recommend to anyone who has ever sounded off on political issues.
Hooks' critiques are thorough, well presented, and piercingly direct. She is inviting all her readers to reevaluate their positions, their biases, and their activism.
"To build a mass-based feminist movement, we need to have a liberatory ideology that can be shared with everyone. That revolutionary ideology can be created only if the experiences of people on the margin who suffer sexist oppressio...more
Dan Sharber
i thought this book was great! the blending of issues of class and race along with women's oppression is an all too rare phenomenon outside marxist analysis of women's oppression. hooks' critique of feminist theory is important for everyone to read. and while she uses terms like 'patriarchy' it is clear that she doesn't use it in the narrow theoretical way indicating all men oppress all women all the time. the only problem i had with it (outside of a couple of things simply related to the period...more
Jamie
Rarely have I felt alienated by a feminist text; I've read hooks on a few occasions (and enjoyed her), but I found this book to be both hostile and hypocritical. As hooks is arguing for an allowance of complexity and a breakdown of dualistic cultural thinking, the way she phrases both her issues with the 'white bourgeois femininst movement' (an appropriate critique at that historical moment, so foundationally, I agree) and possible solutions, she once again falls into reductive formulations and...more
Denise M
I read this in the context of a university course on Women and Religion. The point was to open our eyes to the fact that the history of feminism -- and any feminist books we may read that dealt with religion -- might not be as comprehensive as we thought... i.e., were the needs and real life challenges of women of colour covered in those books? bell hooks thinks not... and she is right. Women of colour didn't have a chance to be involved and properly represented in the earlier stages of the femi...more
Rob
(8/10) This is a critical book in the literature of third-wave feminism, basically laying out a critique of the past and a cogent way of moving forward. To the modern reader who's well-educated in this type of thing, there won't be anything especially revelatory, but that's because the ideas hooks presents have been so thoroughly influential in the discourse of women's studies and feminism. And all this is done in a style which is simple and approachable to the point of being almost simplistic....more
Zerenus
Just a brief review for now, I will try to get back and expand this later. I think bell hooks did a wonderful job laying out many of the limitations of some strands of feminist research has been influenced by those conducting it, and how through this and other processes many people who might identify with the aims of feminist research have felt alienated from it or saw it as foreign or even threatening.

I was originally given this book by my adviser because of the idea of using the "margins" of...more
Karen
This was such a great book. Although it was published in 1984, hooks' critiques still ring true. It also made me rethink some of the assertions that upper-income white feminism has asserted, to the exclusion most other women. I found myself thinking of Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" and subsequent "banbossy" trend as clear examples of the type of limited feminism that hooks works to counter. Let me just say that bell hooks makes a lot more sense, and her ideas will continue to stand the test of tim...more
Cassandra
Hooks has me floored with her no-duh insights into the mis/conceptions about feminism/feminist advocacy, though at times i question whether or not she might be falling into her own trap. the speed with which she barrels through statements requires me to re-read them, as i am not sure when i might me missing something or mistaking something seemingly obvious for a statement that is really loaded. if she took time to unpack everything, this book would definitely be twice as long, but half as much...more
Vallan
good stuff. some of my favorite parts are when she relates her points through anecdotes from her involvement in the second wave feminist movement. also some powerful stuff about working class men being trapped in vicious cycles of systematic disenfranchisement where they're encouraged to oppress women as means of expressing empowerment.
other stuff i hadn't necessarily encountered elsewhere are her sections on the fetishization of motherhood as oppression. and false fatherhood / motherhood dicho...more
Joan
A huge dilemma in feminist writing centers on accessibility. This dilemma is also present in race theory. When the author is writing from a black feminist perspective, the issues are exacerbated.

Does a feminist write for the masses, including low-income under-educated women, many who are women of color? Can writing be feminist if it doesn't write according to the ideal it espouses?

A frequent criticism of bell hooks' writing is that it is lowbrow. But calling it lowbrow incites a whole range of c...more
Meg
bell hooks is a powerhouse. From Margin to Center is a collection of essays addressing feminist theory in its many iterations and the fundamental changes that must be made to have a complete and transformative feminist movement.

Some of my favorite parts of this book are when she brings herself into the picture. Shows herself as a teacher, a writer, a black woman, a sibling in house of seven children. The examples are brief but paired with quotes from other feminists of all types and her constan...more
Patricia Murphy
I appreciate the many discussions about class as it relates to feminist theory. It reminds me of Franz Wright asking for a poetry anthology organized by class rather than by race or gender--you don't see editors pulling together categories of literature based on class, even though it might be a more defining factor. hooks says "Until women accept the need for redistribution of wealth and resources in the United States and work towards the achievement of that end, there will be no bonding among w...more
kripsoo
While reading this book one must realize that Hooks ideas are readily present in every day society While the reader may want to categorize into white and black Hooks teaches us not to This book ideas about feminism and patriarchy are phenomenal One of the most influential ideas in the book is how Oppression starts in the family structure men are generally the head This is a great book especially if you are looking for strong feminism arguments that are well-supported This is an important book t...more
Mike
This is hands down one of the best books that I've ever read. The author takes great pains to avoid essentialism while providing us with a clarion call to action. Understanding the differences among women for her doesn't lead to paralysis but pushes us to find bridges to work on common goals and shared purpose. While elites have taken over the women's movement and used it to amplify class demands or what have you, it need not be that and if they had an interest in making an effective women's mov...more
Kirsten
Amazingly on-point, constructive critiques of the theory and practice that have held feminist movement from becoming a transformative culture, and equally piercing suggestions for change. Although written in the early 80's, every section and topic has been relevant to current culture in the US; often written seemingly in response to an article, law, or trend occurring real-time in my world. I imagine I will reread as opportunity permits. Although I felt some sadness that her critiques are still...more
Larry
Perhaps more than any other author, bell hooks has managed to reframe Feminism. Before hooks, what was meant by "Feminism" was "increased opportunity" for upperclass white women; thanks to hooks, Feminism has now included other voices, and more importantly reformulated Feminism to challenge masculine domination (does inclusion in the boardroom mean "equal opportunity," or does it just participate in centuries-old practices of domination and exploitation?). And plus she's a terrific writer. But n...more
Operaista
Mar 29, 2008 Operaista rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: feminists, people interested in feminism
Shelves: feminism
bell hooks is, as always, amazing. I actually think this is a better introduction to feminism than her Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics as I feel it is less handholdy while still being very approachable; it also has more value to people who already identify as feminists/being involved in feminist movement. I particularly like how bell hooks talks about feminism being a movement to end sexist oppression, rather than making woman equal to men without getting rid of our incredibly mes...more
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bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in...more
More about Bell Hooks...
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom All About Love: New Visions (bell hooks Love Trilogy) Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood

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“There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few.” 45 likes
“Since we live in a society that promotes faddism and temporary superficial adaptation of different values, we are easily convinced that changes have occurred in arenas where there has been little or no change.” 16 likes
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