Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism” as Want to Read:
Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  6,254 ratings  ·  237 reviews
A groundbreaking work of feminist history and theory analyzing the complex relations between various forms of oppression. Ain't I a Woman examines the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the historic devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism within the recent women's movement, and black women's involvement with feminism.
Paperback, 205 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by South End Press (first published 1981)
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 Ain't I a Woman, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ain't I a Woman

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,254 ratings  ·  237 reviews

Sort order
White male scholars who examined the black family by attempting to see in what ways it resembled the white family structure were confident that their data was not biased by their own personal prejudices against women assuming an active role in family decision-making. But it must be remembered that these white males were educated in an elite institutional world that excluded both black people and many white women, institutions that were both racist and sexist.
Calling myself racist accomplishes
Carolyn Newton
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
It wasn't until I read this book did I finally start understand as to what it's truly like to exist as a black woman in our society. I had always been a passionate and convicted feminist, as far back as Jr. High really. After outgrowing the boybands of the late 90' & early 00's, I moved on to metal, punk rock and emo music. Riot Grrrl and the principles that came with it with was just the next natural step, so I came of age within the realm of white feminism. Bell Hooks put into words every ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
I am a little fledgling when it comes to intersectional feminism, so this was a great book for me to read. It further explored and clarified certain arguments and points-of-view that I've read/listened about online. It was published in 1987, so it's not completely up-to-date, but it is really an excellent book.

bell hooks discusses black women and the sexism and racism they faced during slavery, and then continues discussing and exploring the sexism and racism that they face in contemporary times
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very informative book!
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A while back I read an article in the Washington Post about the new domesticity among women. But it only identified the lives of white women living in urban cities. After that I read another article about how the sustainable food movement and "bike to work" movement often appeared white and for people of priveledge. Later on a show called Girls made its debut on HBO and there was quite an uproar about class and race because there appeared to be so much left out from a show that was supposed to b ...more
This was a great companion read to Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider. Ain't I A Woman provides a comprehensive historical and social analysis of the ways black women have been marginalized by both white feminist movements and civil rights movements run by black men.

hooks brings forward numerous examples of racist actions and statements by first and second-wave feminists, such as white women suffragettes excluding black women from their organizations and conferences. Most feminists have heard of Sojo
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: af-am, american, theory
I cannot stress enough how important this book is; a molotov cocktail into the cultural necropolis that is America. bell hooks wields her pen like a sledgehammer, dismantling the pillars of a sexist, racist, and classist society. She illustrates how these three insidious ideologies oppress and privilege us in myriad ways, poisoning the possibility for genuine human interaction/community and dehumanizing us all. Some reviewers have criticized the book for not having footnotes, or for certain hist ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Une véritable claque sur la construction des mythes et stéréotypes entourant les femmes noires aux états-unis (mais les faits présentés sont aussi vrais pour le reste du monde). Un livre nécessaire qui démontre que le féminisme intersectionnel est la clé pour lutter contre toutes les inégalités.
Fabianne Furman
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
My experience of enlightenment via ain't i a woman began before I even got my hands on the book. At a bookstore in San Diego I asked an employee if they carried it, and she said, "I like bell hooks. She's sassy." If her word choice wasn't the most appropriate introduction to the intersectionality specific to black females, then I don't know what is.

Perhaps a better word for hooks is "bold". In ain't i a woman, she leaves no stone unturned, covering topics as touchy as why interracial relationshi
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Life-changing, thought provoking, inspiring, and hard to put down--basically everything you could want in a book. A highly recommended read for people of all races, genders, colors, abilities, and creeds. You will learn so much from this book and genuine curiosity and desire for knowledge for the sake of learning will lead you to seek out more knowledge about the topics discussed therein and, eventually, you will be better for it. Let this book teach you some things you might be afraid to know, ...more
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Bell hooks's primary opponent in this book is the white feminist movement -- what's typically called the "second wave" -- of the 1960s and 70s. Her point is that the white women involved in the movement are racist and sexist and have routinely alienated and antagonized the black women who should be standing at their sides, but in order to develop that point, she retraces the history of black women in the United States since slavery. The book was groundbreaking upon its publication in 1981, and i ...more
Rachel Hyppolite
Après l'avoir lu, ça me donne juste envie de renverser des tables!

Non, plus sérieusement, c'est un livre frappant sur la place des femmes noires dans les mouvements sociaux aux États-Unis, place qui n'est pas très glorieuse ni dans le cas des droits civiques ni celui du féminisme.

Important à lire pour connaître l'histoire et prendre conscience du racisme d'une certaine frange du féminisme malgré les bonnes paroles. Évidemment, il a été écrit en 1981 et parle de la situation des femmes états-un
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Transformative. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the world we live in.

I only have a tiny complaint: It's ok to criticize a movement for its goals, but when you don't provide an alternative one, it leaves me feeling helpless. That's what I don't like about most critiques of the feminist goal of reaching gender and race equality and about people saying they want to end capitalism. We shouldn't just want the same power to dominate, as white males have, I agree. But, what's the
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. It is a wonderful perspective on the feminist movement and black women. Some of the information is dated but the sentiments reign true today. bell hooks has gained another fan. I am a baby black feminist and found this easy to understand and thoroughly enjoyable.
Passionnant, éducatif, dénonciateur, violent... Ce livre - bourré de références bibliographiques - ne laisse pas indifférent. Et mon cœur bat plus fort à la lecture des dernières pages. Merci à bell hooks de l'avoir écrit, j'ai tant appris.
My book group is reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s books and wanted to balance his voice with that of a black woman. I’ve been reading several books trying to find some for us to consider.

As a ‘70s era, second wave (white) feminist, I’m one of those people who was oblivious to the racism in the feminist movement. As someone who has become aware of the concept of “intersectionality” in the last year, I had some idea about the particular challenges of race, gender, and class. But bell hooks upended most
Un ouvrage intéressant qui m'a beaucoup appris sur la condition des femmes noires et qui m'a fait comprendre pourquoi il a été nécessaire pour les femmes noires de créer leurs propres mouvements. Par contre, j'ai trouvé que l'autrice se répétait énormément, ce qui a fini par me pousser à lire certains chapitres en diagonale...
Jessie (thatchickwithabook)
4.5 stars. Incredible, informative, and inspiring current and future feminists in what internal learning and betterment is needed. I’ve read plenty of feminism writings, but almost all were written by white women. As a white woman, the writings certainly detailed my shortcomings and I could relate. But how can I call myself a feminist if I only understand feminism from the viewpoint of myself and other women who look like me?

I learned so much about black slavery’s impact on women, their experien
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autrice
Sur la place des femmes noires dans les mouvements feministes et les mouvements antiracistes aux USA.
C'était très interessant (et déprimant), tout en écriture inclusive mais j'avoue qu'au bout d'un moment j'ai un peu saturé, j'ai limpression que quand on parle d'afrofeminisme c'est surtout des références américaines qui sont citées et j'aimerais voir des textes qui racontent comment le colonialisme a eu un impact sur la féminité noire, dans les mouvements feministes blancs etc...
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
bell hooks.

I love this woman. She challenges me to decolonize my mind.

Read this book. ✊🏾
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book made me think Alice Paul was not so great. That those iron jawed angels were not so great. Bell Hooks speaks to the idea that all the women are white and all the blacks are men. And that black woman have been consistently devalued, overlooked, omitted. She talks about the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's. How the women's movement was the white women's movement. A desire for white woman to get on even ground with white men. She talks about the problems of movment's that exist with ...more
Curtis Ackie
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love living legend bell hooks, from her cultural critiques to her live-streamed chats (many of which can be found on youtube), and hope to rectify the fact that this is only the second book of hers that I've read to date (the first being the excellent Teaching to Transgress).

The road to unlearning sexism and racism is a long and rough one, and I'd like to think that this collection of brilliant essays has helped me along the way some. That said, it was a challenging read, and not only because
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Inexcusable that it took me so long to read this book. Hooks is amazing and inspirational and everything she says makes sense. These essays are about black women's history in the United States and the historically problematic intersections between race and gender-- notably, that black women have either been asked to choose one of their identities as the "most important" or have felt doubly disempowered. Hooks explores the ways in which black women have been devalued and how feminism has failed t ...more
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
There were times while reading the books that bell hooks comes across as writing from such a tremendous store of anger until ones stops to realize that these things, (slavery, etc.) really did happen.

Then the harder part begins, when one is forced to face the fact that white women are not really interested in joining together with their black sisters. Hard, unpleasant, but impossible to hide, because it's true, and I hope it changes.

It's difficult to say that this is a book that one "enjoys" re
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
3.5 stars - Much to think about and, as a white woman, to be ashamed of white women in the historically bad treatment of black women as fellow seekers of equality. I thought hooks paints several issues with a broad brush that surely have more variation in the behaviour of people in various groups. I particularly liked the final chapter where she discussed what feminism should and could achieve if women would not look to join the patriarchal society we already have but instead work for a society ...more
Sep 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most enlightened and enlightening books I've ever read. It grounded (and to some extent validated) my own feminist beliefs. bell hooks is a popular intellectual. She speaks to you - not at you, not above you - in a language you, an ordinary person, understand.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A really great, enlightening read with a wealth of information about black feminism through the centuries in the US as well as the systems that opposed and oppressed these movements. Definitely an essential read for anyone interested in intersectional/black feminism.
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for anyone who considers themselves a feminist. Really, required reading for anyone who considers themselves a human being.
Rianna Jade
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Necessary. Period.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment
  • But Some Of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women's Studies
  • Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
  • Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism
  • Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity
  • Feminism FOR REAL: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism
  • Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
  • Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman
  • Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology
  • Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color
  • Women, Race, and Class
  • Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought
  • When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down
  • Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America
  • Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism
  • Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement
  • When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America
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
“The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.” 213 likes
“It is obvious that many women have appropriated feminism to serve their own ends, especially those white women who have been at the forefront of the movement; but rather than resigning myself to this appropriation I choose to re-appropriate the term “feminism,” to focus on the fact that to be “feminist” in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.” 96 likes
More quotes…