Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center” as Want to Read:
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  3,945 ratings  ·  148 reviews
Feminist Theory established Bell Hooks as one of international feminism's most challenging and influential voices. This edition includes a new preface by the author, reflecting on the book's impact and the development of her ideas since it was first published. In this beautifully written and carefully argued work, Hooks maintains that mainstream feminism's reliance on whit ...more
Paperback, 174 pages
Published December 1st 1984 by South End Press (first published 1984)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Feminist Theory, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Feminist Theory

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Second Sex by Simone de BeauvoirA Room of One's Own by Virginia WoolfThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Best Feminist Books
30th out of 1,183 books — 1,433 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeA People's History of the United States by Howard ZinnNickel and Dimed by Barbara EhrenreichBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownThe Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
Social Justice: Books on Racism, Sexism, and Class
65th out of 817 books — 715 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Paige (Enchantology)
I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in feminism or anyone who currently identifies as a feminist but hasn't yet read this. hooks has a very accessible writing style and does an impeccable job of pointing out the flaws in the feminist movement and putting forth ideas of what feminism as a movement should be if it has any hope of success.
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
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
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
"the shift in expression from 'i am a feminist' to 'i advocate feminism' could serve as a useful strategy for eliminating the focus on identity and lifestyle. It could serve as a way in which women who are concerned about feminism as well as other political movements could express their support while avoiding linguistic structures that give primacy to one particular group. it would also encourage greater explorations in feminist theory."

"women will know that white feminist activists have begun t
Christie 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 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
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
Elli (The Bibliophile)
This was a great overview of bell hooks's views on various issues insofar as they relate to feminism. She addresses several different things, including race, violence, parenting and sex. Each chapter was pretty distinct and could be read as a separate essay, but I think the book is best read cover-to-cover.

If you are beginning to learn about feminism, this might not be the best place to start (go read Feminism is for Everybody, also by bell hooks) but I wouldn't say this is a difficult or dry re
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"
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.
4.5 stars

This book made me think, question, wonder, struggle, doubt, all the things I look for in books like this. I didn't agree with every argument*, but I don't think that's really hook's intent. Even when I was skeptical of specific claims, the rationale was clear enough to follow. Such lucid writing is a delight in itself.

Knocked off half a star for repetitive editing oddities (random words appearing mid-sentence) and for repetitive, unsubstantiated "and these days this issue is even worse
Jun 26, 2013 Brittany rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
(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
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
Sarah Eagle
I called myself a feminist long before I was introduced to this book by my best friend. However, just because you have embraced the term and believe firmly in what it stands for doesn't mean you can't still learn how to do better.
This book changed how I view feminism, and all for the better. It discusses not just the obvious topics in greater depth than I've seen previously explored - such as domestic violence, the sexist division of labor between "mothering" (rather than PARENTING) and working.
Read this out loud to my college-aged daughter for a women's study course she took. I never would have picked this up on my own but it was an enlightening read, even for someone raised by a single mother. I saw first-hand what happened to working women in the 60s & 70s; many of her points regarding the educated/white slant of the early feminist movement were exactly what alienated me from feminism as a movement. An interesting book, especially as a reflection on the history of the US feminis ...more
Without knowing the context in which Feminist Theory was written, it's hard to distinguish whether it was written as a response to feminism today or 30 years ago. But that doesn't matter, really. What does matter is that there are many things we (feminists or not) can learn today from this book.

Now I'm going to avoid writing bell hooks' name after this sentence because I don't want to fight with Microsoft Word about this, so I'll stick to referring to her as "the author". Feminist Theory from Ma
an unbelievably motivating manifesto. crystallized a lot of muddied thoughts about feminism, activism, and systems of oppression.
I just discovered a huge bookshelf in the library of my uni with tons of books about feminist and this one was part of it. Hands up, this book is amazing.
Paul Crider
My impression is that bell hooks is a pretty controversial figure within feminism. If this is true (and my impression may be mistaken, or outdated), then I'm surprised. Her main thrust seems to be inclusiveness. She criticizes several approaches to feminism as failing the very people it should seek to help: the poorest and weakest members of society (rather than the relatively well off "bourgeois" women). She also surprised me with how much of her thought could potentially appeal to conservative ...more
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.
4.5 Stars. Hooks is an amazing communicator - her writing is concise and melds activist jargon with academic theory to tell a powerful story. Writing from the margin of Feminism in the early 80s, Hooks is speaking a different language compared to dominant Feminism today. Those languages contain some of the same ideas, some of her ideas are new to me, and some I'm only aware of because of the residual mockery of "radical" feminism. A label with unfortunate connotations, as while some of her ideas ...more
Firstly, my three-star review is unrelated to the content of this book. It took me a significant time to read because its really been a while since I worked my way through some heavy academic text - and that's what this is. I have high hopes for Feminism Is For Everybody, since that text aims to be more accessible.

Nonetheless, I felt that the work of reading through this text is absolutely worth it, and of all the books I read (except maybe The Color Purple, which I will be teaching), it has pre
I believe this book is essential for any feminist although I don't think it's necessarily accessible to everyone. It takes a certain amount of prior knowledge and understanding of intersectional feminism to get the most out of this book but for anyone who is trying to learn more about intersectional feminism, this is a must. hooks addresses many topics such as race, class, work, family and even more. One of the biggest ideas I took away from this book was something along the lines of this quote: ...more
Quin Rich
bell hooks is generally great, and this books has many strong points. Nonetheless, other parts left a bad taste in my mouth, but I think that might be the point. hooks didn't set out to write an authoritative manifesto on what feminism is or should be for all time; in fact, she explicitly set out to challenge such dogmatism.

That said, this is still worth a quick read; much of it is still very relevant, and while it's limited and dated in other parts it offers many generative passages that helped
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism
  • Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity
  • Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment
  • Feminism FOR REAL: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism
  • Women, Culture, and Politics
  • Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
  • Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color
  • Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
  • But Some Of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women's Studies
  • Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
  • Sexual Politics
  • Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
  • Whores and Other Feminists
  • Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology
  • Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought
  • I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism
  • The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
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...

Share This Book

“There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few.” 69 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.” 18 likes
More quotes…