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Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

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A sweeping examination of the core issues of sexual politics, bell hooks' new book Feminist Theory: from margin to center argues that the contemporary feminist movement must establish a new direction for the 1980s. Continuing the debates surrounding her controversial first book, Ain't I A Woman, bell hooks suggests that feminists have not succeeded in creating a mass movement against sexist oppression because the very foundation of women's liberation has, until now, not accounted for the complexity and diversity of female experience. In order to fulfill its revolutionary potential, feminist theory must begin by consciously transforming its own definition to encompass the lives and ideas of women on the margin. Hooks' work is a challenge to the women's movement and will have profound impact on all whose lives have been touched by feminism and its insights.

174 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1984

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About the author

bell hooks

138 books9,589 followers
bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) was an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in various public lectures. Primarily through a postmodern female perspective, she addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media and feminism.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 419 reviews
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,456 reviews8,553 followers
August 3, 2019
Another iconic feminist text from bell hooks. I love that hooks’s writing always takes mainstream feminist thinking and elevates it. She encourages us to deeply consider how racism and classism intersect with sexism to further marginalize women of color and poor women. She argues that we should conceptualize feminism as a radical, revolutionary movement as opposed to an individual lifestyle. Her writing, while intelligent and replete with critical analysis, remains accessible and close to the human lived experience. For example, here is a quote about how she interrogates why feminism is not just about equality with men, even though we often market it that way:

”Women in lower class and poor groups, particularly those who are non-white, would not have defined women’s liberation as women gaining social equality with men since they are continually reminded in their everyday lives that all women do not share a common social status. Concurrently, they know that many males in their social groups are exploited and oppressed. Knowing that men in their groups do not have social, political, and economic power, they would not deem it liberatory to share their social status… from the very onset of the women’s liberation movement, [women in lower class and poor groups, particularly those who are non-white] were suspicious of feminism precisely because they recognized the limitations inherent in its definition. They recognized the possibility that feminism defined as social equality with men might easily become a movement that would primarily affect the social standing of white women in middle and upper class groups while affecting only in a very marginal way the social status of working class and poor women.”

I would highly recommend this text to everyone, especially those who are interested in feminism who hold dominant identities (e.g., white, middle to upper middle class, etc.) hooks’s writing challenged me to think about my own complicity, both as a man and as someone who comes from a higher socioeconomic status. When she wrote about how writing about feminism is often too secluded and filled with academic jargon to be understandable, accessible, or even helpful at all for poor women and women who have not had access to education, I was forced to confront my own privilege of attending somewhat elite schools and universities throughout my life and my own complicity in classism. Even in sections where I disagreed with her – I felt that she could have done a better job discussing how heteronormative lifestyles do in fact perpetuate patriarchy, for example the wedding industrial complex – I still appreciated her thought process and her passion. I will end this review by integrating a few passages from an early section of the book, about feminism and its more revolutionary roots:

”The willingness to see feminism as a lifestyle choice rather than a political commitment reflects the class nature of the movement. It is not surprising that the vast majority of women who equate feminism with alternative lifestyle are from middle class backgrounds, unmarried, college-educated, often students who are without many of the social and economic responsibilities that working class and poor women who are laborers, parents, homemakers, and wives confront daily… Often emphasis on identity and lifestyle is appealing because it creates a false sense that one is engaged in praxis. However, praxis within any political movement that aims to have a radical transformative impact on society cannot be solely focused on creating spaces wherein would-be-radicals experience safety and support. Feminist movement to end sexist oppression actively engages participants in revolutionary struggle. Struggle is rarely safe or pleasurable.”
Profile Image for Prerna.
222 reviews1,320 followers
July 29, 2022
My very first bell hooks book, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, which I read about three years ago left me very unimpressed with her writing. I do not exactly remember why, but I'm mature enough to admit that it was mostly because of my own biases. I expected 'feminist theory' to fit into certain neatly defined boxes that were mostly built by academic upper/middle class white women, it was very naive of me honestly. I was also just getting out of my science-bro phase where I'd look at arguments and go 'where is the evidence for this? Where are the references and citations??' I still consider evidence to be very important, but by expanding my reading of feminist and critical theory texts, I have also come to appreciate anecdotal references. bell hooks doesn't just talk about feminism in a textual context, but she writes about it as a lived reality. And this style of approach, especially from someone who has always been on the margins, is invaluable. Besides, what sort of evidence or references could you possibly cite when you're amongst the first to bring a new, radical perspective to field wherein mainstream narratives have been very one-dimensional?

Even after realising all of this, my journey so far with bell hooks has been difficult. Due to more biases, again. I did not like that some of her writing sounded very preachy and sermony. I did not like that she drew so much of her understanding from what she has learnt through Christianity and the church. What I forgot to consider of course, was how important the church has been as a unifying force for black communities. I am still wary of her Christianity related references, but I am now aware that I am judging it from a completely different historical context. I used to read her texts and go all 'well all of this sounds great, but how could one possibly implement this' and therefore judging her for being too 'ideological' and not speaking in terms of implementable solutions. This has probably been my harshest judgement of her, because I realised that I did not expect policy ideas or solutions from other theorists I read, I just read them to broaden my perspective.

So honestly, bell hooks has broadened my perspective a lot and this is the first book of hers that I thoroughly enjoyed reading, because I was finally aware of all my biases and could keep them aside. I could read bell hooks with the sort of dedication she deserves. It's been a long and arduous journey, and I think I will complete it with another book of hers, but this particular one was epiphany-inducing. I have always admired bell hooks for looking away from the binary of male perpetrator and woman victim while talking about feminism, for stating clearly that 'feminist' is not a prepackaged identity, it is not a lifestyle choice (which a lot of upper class women seem to think it is) but a political commitment, for speaking of the movement through a lens that is composed of the totality of gender, race and class. And now, I greatly appreciate her style too.
Profile Image for Vartika.
373 reviews604 followers
October 11, 2020
The biggest challenge faced by feminists today concerns why the world and values envisioned by western Feminism continue to remain elusive despite nearly two centuries of struggle. Emerging from the embers of the Second Wave in the 1980s, bell hooks was one of the first to answer this question by bringing to attention the hitherto exclusionary nature of the movement and its limited focus on white women from middle-class backgrounds.

Published in 1984—five years before the term 'intersectionality' was coined— From Margin to Center brings the issues of women marginalised by race and class to the forefront of the struggle for feminist change, offering an effective critique of the Second Wave alongside a revolutionary manifesto for ending sexist oppression.

Indeed, hooks begins by challenging the broadly (or narrowly) defined feminist goal of making women the social equals of men: according to her, since all men aren't equal in a white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal class structure, which men do women want equality with? Implicitly she challenges White feminism's assertion of all women sharing a common fate by bringing to fore how each woman's material conditions (i.e. our location along the lines of racial and class privilege) act in conjunction with gender and sexuality to determine our vision for equality. hooks thus identifies a radical, systemic overhaul of a culture based in the domination of the many by the few as the only way to end sexist oppression and benefit all women.

Moreover, by talking of 'sexist oppression,' hooks identifies women and men as stakeholders of feminist change, and attacks the dualistic thinking that forces much of feminist energies on taking on male supremacy instead of also working on self-affirmation for women. Unlike many theorists of her time, hooks' approach is more holistic and radical—abolitionist rather than reformist—and takes into account the need for positive social as well as sexual identities that can be brought about by changing prevalent norms instead of advocating for the creation of 'safe spaces' within the present hegemonic and heteronormative structure.

From Margin to Center attempts to reorient feminist thought by centering the need to rethink the nature of work, bringing an end to hegemonic violence and sexual oppression, and the overall aim to effect revolutionary change instead of mere reforms that do not challenge the status quo. It recognises the gradual nature of change while also pressing on the need to avoid narrow and/or atomistic goals, and sheds new light on issues such as 'women's work,' heterosexism, and childrearing. With its call for re-organising the movement outside of hegemonic lines, the book also focuses on attending to basic and foundational goals such as literacy in addition to the programmes and concessions for more advanced strides by women that are already underway, thereby closing the gap between praxis and theory, and making a truly accessible, mass-based movement.

At a time where social conservatism and economic neoliberalism dominate, the ideas presented by bell hooks in this book resound with more urgency and vigour than ever before. As such, it remains the most comprehensive text on feminist radicalism in the West—the first chapter alone tackles enough dogma to radicalise anyone—and is highly recommended to all those who wish to understand feminism better.

In summary:
"Feminism is the struggle to end sexist oppression. Its aim is not to benefit solely any specific group of women, any particular race or class of women. It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all our lives. Most importantly, feminism is neither a lifestyle nor a ready-made identity or role one can step into(...)but a political commitment to radical change."
Profile Image for Christy.
Author 5 books389 followers
September 22, 2008
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 for more than the bourgeois white women who had previously been perceived as the face of the movement.

In developing this stance, hooks takes on several key myths about feminism and about gender, including the idea that women are naturally superior, more caring, and more nurturing than men. She argues that this idea is counterproductive and simply untrue, stating instead that "[w]e who are concerned about feminism and militarism must insist that women (even those who are bearers of children) are not inherently non-violent or life-affirming. Many women who mother (either as single parents or in camaraderie with husbands) have taught male children to see fighting and other forms of violent aggression as acceptable modes of communication, modes that are valued more than loving or caring interaction" (128).

Further, since these gender roles are not fully cemented by nature, she calls into question the glorification of motherhood as well, providing two distinct alternatives. Rather than denigrating motherhood (the easy alternative for some to glorifying it), she proposes that we do not praise motherhood as the only true way to parent children. Instead, she says, we should teach men "ideally from childhood on, that fatherhood has the same meaning and significance as motherhood" (137). She continues, saying, "Women and men must define the work of fathering and mothering in the same way if males and females are to accept equal responsibility in parenting" (137). She goes beyond the nuclear family structure, however, to consider the benefits of communal parenting, for both the children, the parents, and the rest of the community involved in raising the children.

As interesting as I find these points, they are not the the most compelling part of this book. For me, that is found in hooks' two central points: the first is her clear distinction between identity politics and praxis and the second is her focus on struggle as a fundamental part of feminist political action. Hooks repeatedly insists that one's identity as a feminist is not at all the same thing as engaging in feminist action, writing that "[o]ften emphasis on identity and lifestyle is appealing because it creates a false sense that one is engaged in praxis" (28). To counter this false sense, she proposes a new way of conceiving one's position in the feminist movement that is based on action rather than identity:

"To emphasize that engagement with feminist struggle as political commitment we could avoid using the phrase 'I am a feminist' (a linguistic structure designed to refer to some personal aspect of identity and self-definition) and could state 'I advocate feminism'" (29).

While I see potential problems with this linguistic shift (although it does emphasize action instead of personal identity, it also risks feeling as if one is distancing oneself from the movement--I don't belong to it, but I support it), this is a fascinating idea that is worth considering.

Even more valuable than her suggestions regarding description and linguistic affiliation are her comments and suggestions regarding concrete action. One concrete action that she suggests is a focus on literacy. In order to make sure that feminist literature and ideas are able to reach those in need of them, the feminist movement must make sure that those people are able to read them. She advocates support of literacy programs as well as a reconsideration of the way that feminist theory is written:

"Many [feminist] theorists do not even intend their ideas to reach a mass public, and consequently we must take some responsibility for the superficial and perverted versions of feminist ideas that end up in the public imagination, via tv for example" (108).

This is an idea that I wish more feminist theorists would take to heart. Hooks goes on to acknowledge the pressures of the field and the publishing industry on academics who write feminist theory, but does not allow that acknowledgement to undermine her argument, writing that "[t]he ability to 'translate' ideas to an audience that varies in age, sex, ethnicity, degree of literacy is a skill feminist educators need to develop" (111).

Although I'd rather see all feminist theory written in a way that is understandable to more than a handful of experts, at the very least those ideas should be translatable to laypersons. If the ideas aren't translatable, perhaps they are not worth the effort; perhaps the effort would be better spent making a real difference in the real world. (On a more selfish note, I have to say that I can't help but think that if feminist theorists had taken up hooks' challenge, my feminist theory reading list would be a helluva lot easier to get through.)

Hooks' conclusion alone is worth the price of admission. She concludes by re-affirming the focus of feminism and establishing the necessity of struggle:

"Our emphasis must be on cultural transformation: destroying dualism, eradicating systems of domination. Our feminist revolution here can be aided by the example of liberation struggles led by oppressed peoples globally who resist formidable powers. The formation of an oppositional world view is necessary for feminist struggle. This means that the world we have most intimately known, the world in which we feel 'safe,' (even if such feelings are based on illusions) must be radically changed. Perhaps it is the knowledge that everyone must change, not just those we label enemies or oppressors, that has so far served to check our revolutionary impulses. Those revolutionary impulses must freely inform our theory and practice if feminist movement to end oppression is to progress, if we are to transform our present reality" (163).

This is a view of feminism that not everyone will agree with, but those who truly do want to see men and women of all races, classes, and ages able to be the best humans they can be will find this a satisfying vision of the world to work toward and a challenge worth taking up.
Profile Image for Paige (Enchantology).
88 reviews902 followers
February 10, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Mousami Shinde.
13 reviews17 followers
July 5, 2020
When I started reading this book, it was tough for me to get through even the first few pages. The scathing criticism of feminist movements left me uncomfortable, which is the exact point of this book. While it did so, it also made me take a hard look at how I advocate for feminism, and made me aware of how privilege has shaped feminism. bell hooks reviews the movement in a very harsh light, but in a way that will allow feminism to grow more diverse. While the book addresses the downfalls of privileged feminism, it also focuses on what aspects need to be considered to enrich and sustain the movement. I have to admit I enjoyed reading the parts where the retrospection was less focused on and scope for progress was mentioned in more detail. In the end, it is important that feminism as a movement be criticised, and this book reminds me that feminism is flawed and that's ok as long as there are more such books which reflect on and transform the discourse of the movement to make it a sustainable effort for all.
Profile Image for Hira.
22 reviews6 followers
March 18, 2012
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 various other levels if they are immersed deep enough in such an ideology. The need to see 'the entire picture' seems to be her theme throughout and this emphasis on inclusion, as opposed to division, is very stimulating to read.

Basically I am in love with bell hooks right now and the beautifully cogent way she puts forward her arguments in this book. There is no academic jargon, or things that make reading such texts an excruciating process, nor could I detect any dumbing down. Reading it, and processing the arguments it makes, it feels like I can be whole again. With an understanding of my own oppressive circumstances. And the oppressive hierarchies I myself am involved in perpetuating. Still have 60 pages to go, this book might just change my life.
164 reviews130 followers
June 10, 2014
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 me think through some issues. At root, what hooks argues here is that the hegemonic second wave feminist movement was not a mass based movement built from the shared vision of the majority of US women, but rather a an outgrowth of white, bourgeois women's attempts to advance themselves without losing race or class status. She draws attention to some key ways in which whiteness and class privilege have shaped key areas of feminist thought, and offers some visions as how to re-radicalize feminism and grow its base.

I was made uncomfortable by hooks' repeated assertion that feminism had become too "anti-male." I understand the argument that not all nor most women can or desire to "separate" themselves from men, but in a sexist society, women are justified in displayed sentiments that could be described as "anti-male." I'm well aware of the limits of such as the basis for a politics, as well as the need to engage people of all genders in feminist thought, but this felt unnecessary. hooks also makes a point of attempting to redeem work as a concept or a practice (it's not clear); as an anarchafeminist I couldn't buy this argument, and hooks herself made several anti-capitalist statements that seemed to contradict her own "pro-work" attitude. Finally, as the book was written in 1984, much of it is somewhat dated, and trans* folks make no appearance. Neither does queerness at all for that matter, though hooks does address lesbian and gay rights briefly and from an "ally" perspective.

In all, it's worth a brief read if you have the time, but it definitely has its limits. hooks develops these ideas and removes some of the more problematic elements described above in her fantastic, later book "Feminism is for Everybody," and if you've read that, then you've read this and then some. And of course, the rest of hooks' stuff is really awesome!!!
Profile Image for Amelia.
311 reviews9 followers
January 20, 2022
This was a concise yet deep take on many issues related to feminism and its shortcomings that mostly felt like it was written today rather than the 1980s. I particularly loved hooks' take on how our society views power, and how changing that perception is a vital feminist project. hooks also does an incredible job of synthesizing complex issues, holding multiple views that have some truths to them in tension with each other at the same time, and refusing to promote solutions that "throw the baby out with the bathwater." I deeply appreciated her insight into how people who have been alienated in feminism from the movement are the key to it succeeding and why they have been so alienated.

A really great work that shows why she's been considered one of the great intellectual minds when it comes to feminism, race, and so on.
Profile Image for Klelly.
142 reviews24 followers
April 30, 2015
"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 to confront racism in a serious and revolutionary manner when they are not simply acknowledging racism in feminist movement or calling attention to personal prejudice, but are actively struggling to resist racist oppression in our society. Women will know they have made a political commitment to eliminating racism when they help change the direction of feminist movement, when they work to unlearn racist socialization prior to assuming positions of leadership or shaping theory or making contact with women of color so that they will not perpetuate and maintain racial oppression or unconsciously or consciously, abuse and hurt non-white women. These are the truly radical gestures that create a foundation for the experience of political solidarity between white women and women of color."

"We discovered that we had a greater feeling of unity when people focused truthfully on their own experiences without comparing them with those of others in a competitive way."

"women's legacy of women hating, which includes fierce, brutal, verbal tearing apart of one another, has to be eliminated if women are to make critiques and engage in disagreements and arguments that are constructive and caring, with the intention of enriching rather than diminishing. Woman to woman negative, aggressive behavior is not unlearned when all critical judgement is suspended. it is unlearned when women accept that we are different, that we will necessarily disagree, but that we can disagree and argue with one another without acting as if we are fighting for our lives, without feeling that we stand to lose all self-esteem by verbally trashing someone else. Verbal disagreements are often the setting where women can demonstrate their engagement with the win or lose competitiveness that is most often associated with male interactions, especially in the arena of sports. Rule suggests women can disagree without trashing if they realize they do not stand to lose value or self worth if they are criticized: "no one can discredit my life if it is in my own hands, and therefore i do not have to make anyone carry the false burden of my frightened hostility."

Profile Image for Jamie.
321 reviews240 followers
March 3, 2010
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 dualisms on race, class, sex/gender, and sexuality--it becomes an us vs. them sort of text, rather than one (as she 'claims') that seeks ways in which everyone can in fact work together for feminist movement. Which is not to say I naively believe in some utopic vision of 'solidarity'--but only that the venues of change hooks imagines presuppose very specific images of the 'good' feminist and the 'bad' one (or the 'enemy'). Which, to my mind, is wildly unproductive.

I give the book 3 stars, nonetheless, because I agree with many of the principles/problems hooks sets forth (the critique of white hegemony in feminist movement, her push for literacy and educational opportunity, her understanding of 'revolution' as a gradual process), but just not the way she articulates them, or many of the resolutions (which are often merely utopic, rather than pragmatic--despite her push for praxis). A seminal text, and I can always appreciate dated feminist books for their positions at a certain historical moment, but I have doubts about the efficacy of this one now.
9 reviews3 followers
June 17, 2009
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 feminist movement (which manifests itself in the failure to recognize or address racism and classism in the movement). She says the movement definitely needs to be more democratic - rather than focus on advancing careers of white middle and upper class women, the focus needs to be on the poorer non-white women whose position in society has become worse/lower. she also argues that its absolutely essential to find ways to involve progressive men to advocate for feminism with other men who benefit from the patriachal hierarchy. As long as men are seen as "the enemy" it will be impossible for the movement to grow.
Profile Image for Isabel Lobo.
40 reviews2 followers
March 19, 2022
Teoria feminista fundamental, que me trouxe clareza em algumas coisas do movimento feminista: o porquê de haver mulheres que odeiam feministas, como o feminismo está historicamente designado para mulheres brancas da classe média alta como eu, a maternidade vista de lado dentro do movimento. Um livro feminista muito mais politicamente correto que angela davis ou dworkin, o que pode ajudar na desconstrucao do feminismo do status quo para mulheres brancas e ricas, mas muito mais teorico, o que pode afastar grande parte das mulheres (nao intelectualizadas). Aconselho ler everyone should be a feminist (ngozi adichie) woman hating (angela dworkin) women race and class (angela davis) e feminist theory (bell hooks), por ordem de introdução às temáticas feministas e complexidade da teorização
Profile Image for Francesca.
141 reviews8 followers
October 4, 2021
‘A central problem with feminist discourse has been our inability to arrive at a consensus of opinion on what feminism actually is. Without agreed upon definitions we lack a sound foundation on which to construct theory or engage in overall meaningful praxis.’
282 reviews2 followers
June 24, 2022
Sin duda una de las mejores aproximaciones preliminares a la teoría feminista. Al partir de una perspectiva interseccional que reconoce la importancia de la raza y la clase en la opresión sexista bell hooks se deshace de muchas de las telarañas y obstáculos de otras perspectivas feministas más centradas en una supuesta opresión universal y homogénea sufrida por todas las mujeres casi por igual. A su vez, hooks sabe ver el feminismo como parte de un conjunto más aplio de movimientos políticos entrelazados, lo que hace que sus reflexiones siempre toquen aspectos muy variados, a veces aparentemente alejados del feminismo. Gracias a eso este movimiento y su teoría se pueden politizar de una manera más transversal y abarcadora. No sé si este libro será suficiente para que el feminismo amplio, antirracista, anticapitalista y antiimperialista que hooks propone pueda extenderse y calar, pero es un paso acertado en una dirección ciertamente esperanzadora y aporta espacio e ideas para una lucha necesaria.
Profile Image for Weltschmerz.
110 reviews109 followers
October 28, 2018
Iako razumem svrhu postojanja one teorije koja ide ispred iskustva, mislim da nam je ovakva teorija iz iskustva višestruko dragocenija. Pomalo je obeshrabrujuća spoznaja da se od objavljivanja ove knjige do danas malo toga promenilo, ako govorimo o aktivnostima Pokreta. S druge strane, autorka nas na samom kraju podseća da je feministička revolucija proces, i da joj to ipak ne oduzima na revolucionarnosti.
Profile Image for João Pinho.
46 reviews24 followers
November 23, 2022
Bell Hooks consegue recentrar sempre o debate, no que toca à luta feminista, mesmo que depois não concordemos ou fiquemos necessariamente satisfeitos com as propostas. Esta foi uma qualidade que lhe reconheço desde a primeira obra que me chegou às mãos. Recomendo vivamente a leitura dos capítulos em torno da participação dos homens (camaradas) na luta e das questões da maternidade e do trabalho.
Profile Image for Bookshark.
207 reviews6 followers
June 26, 2013
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 at identifying problems and courageous at putting forth potential solutions. She proposes concrete practices which align with her theoretical proclamations. Most importantly, she airs some of the perspectives which are common among poor or non-white women yet neglected by white bourgeois feminists. However, in her attempt to introduce these valuable perspectives, I think hooks ultimately reinforces the binary logic of domination she considers to be the root of oppression. By relying on a version of standpoint epistemology in which the most marginalized people have the greatest access to truth, hooks provides a rationale for the "oppression olympics" in which the "most victimized" status is coveted, even as she critiques the victim mentality within the feminist movement. The contrasts she sets up between white women and women of color sometimes ring false or just too strongly worded (for example, she states that black women are raised communally while white women are not), which seems to reinforce barriers between women rather than breaking them down. Furthermore, she seems to neglect other axes of oppression beyond gender, race, and class. She does not talk at all about disability, immigration status, or trans/non-binary gender identity. Her discussion of LGB individuals is either in the service of making points about heterosexuality, trite, hetero-splaining, or non-existent (e.g. heterosexuality is not per se oppression any more than lesbianism is per se liberation, separatism is undesirable, lesbians should make sure there are men involved in their kids lives, etc). Lastly, she seems to be holding out for a utopian world in which there is no domination, which seems impossible if perhaps desirable as an ideal.

Despite my reservations, this book is definitely worth a read. It clarifies much of the logic behind contemporary feminist thinking, and reading it will help you understand where hooks's thinking has become hegemonic within the movement vs. where it has not gained such currency. It's also integral to the history of feminist theory.
Profile Image for Christie Skipper Ritchotte.
80 reviews10 followers
May 2, 2011
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 being man-haters, not about lesbianism. It's not even about equal pay for women, although that is a positive change facilitated by the movement. The main message was lost, if it ever was clearly defined in the first place. Many who agree with the idea of the movement still won't admit to advocating feminism, because they don't know what it means. bell hooks (she adopted her grandmother's name as a pen name, using lowercase to differentiate herself) made this necessary point: If you don't define the thing, no one will want be associated with it, nor will they feel compelled to try to understand it.

If Feminism means everything, then it means nothing, hooks said. Her definition: "Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression."

So Feminism has a definition, thanks to hooks, but it still has some heavy lifting to do. If feminists won't address and fight racism and class injustice for worry of getting sidetracked from movement goals, then it is the same as putting a Keep Out sign on the door. Exclusionary behavior narrows the thinking, putting people in a Lesser Evil state of mind, making it so much easier to gloss over the pain of other human beings and look the other way.

Today it seems as if feminism risks becoming assimilated by mainstream culture in its most generic, clone-like form. Sexism is as prevalent as ever, for both women and men. This book was written in the mid-eighties, but nearly thirty years later the issues she addressed remain.

Luckily, she is still writing books, delivering social commentary with a "snappy and bold tongue," like the grandmother whose name she cribbed.

Profile Image for Alex.
294 reviews5 followers
April 27, 2009
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 women, working men are fed daily a fantasy diet of male supremacy and power. In actuality, they have very little power, and they know it. Yet they do not rebel against the economic order or make revolution. They are socialized by ruling powers to accept their dehumanization and exploitation in the public world of work, and they are taught to expect that the private world, the world of home and intimate relationships, will restore to them their sense of power, which they equate with masculinity... By condoning and perpetuating male domination of women to prevent rebellion on the job, ruling male capitalists ensure that male violence will be expressed in the home and not in the work force."
Profile Image for saïd.
6,138 reviews695 followers
September 24, 2021
It's difficult to address anything she's written without landing on the problem of her nom de plume, which she says:
[...] honors her mother and her grandmother. Her name is always seen written in lowercase letters because she believes that what is most important is the "substance of [my] books, not who I am."
The irony being, of course, that this only draws more attention to the author instead of the content of her writings; the insistence on the minuscule case can easily be seen pretentious posturing. E.E. Cummings didn't actually change his legal name to lowercase (nor did he predominantly sign it as such), K.D. Lang is no longer going by k.d. lang, and so we are left with this.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,989 reviews699 followers
October 9, 2011
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 approach lends itself well to practical solutions. In her attempt to find a singular approach to solidarity and liberation, I feel like she winds up alienating a lot of groups who have the same spirit as her but lack her specific vision.
Profile Image for Heather.
214 reviews63 followers
May 28, 2020
In my opinion, this book is remarkable in the way that it forces the reader to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about how we truly feel and see one another. Some of this is so ingrained in us that we aren’t even aware of it. To effectively battle these deeply held assumptions, we first need to acknowledge them and recognize that they are incorrect. Only then can we truly accept one another and ensure full inclusion in any meaningful way. How can we strive for equality, if we aren’t first honest with ourselves and don’t view each other as equal?
Profile Image for Nick Black.
Author 1 book711 followers
March 23, 2008
Whoa, bell hooks is one pissed-off lady! It'd be a lot more effective, or at least less of a rodomontade, if she developed a self-consistent philosophy. On the plus side, I'm hoping that developing fluency with this half-cocked nonsense on a lonely plane ride back in 2003 will someday help me find the chinks in some attractive sociology major's psychosexual armor, allowing a cheerful ejaculation of "I blinded her....with bell hooks!" to the unforgettable tune of Thomas Dolby's classic.
Profile Image for Abi.
359 reviews55 followers
July 8, 2017
"It is the absence of feminist theory that addresses margin and center that had led me to write this book."

Essential reading by Bell Hooks! Honestly a pioneer in intersectional feminist reading.
Profile Image for Ygraine.
571 reviews
July 16, 2020
v much respect this as a commentary on the trajectory of feminist thought & action from the sixties to the eighties, and a starting point fr theorists & activists to interrogate their relationships to feminism, to structures of power & dominance, to labour and consumption and culture, to each other and to women excluded from or alienated by feminism.

it is, in places, tied to its historical moment & particular vantage point -- fr me the chapter on sexual oppression, specifically its treatment of lesbianism and heterosexism, felt quite uncomfortable ? mostly because political lesbianism is def no longer at the vanguard of feminist action, so the focus on solidarity with the heterosexual majority and criticism of rhetoric that alienates heterosexual women sometimes reads as hostility towards lesbianism, even though i absolutely do not believe that to be hooks' intention. it's compounded by the fact that she seems to be writing as an ally, & so her treatment of 'heterosexism' feels much flatter & more rushed than her ongoing attention to 'capitalism', 'white supremacy' & 'patriarchy'. this, like the lack of attention to, fr example, trans identity or disability as other marginal positions, demonstrates other needs & positions that feminist theory & activism of the last forty years have identified and incorporated, esp intersectional theory.

the fact that much of the rest of hooks' work can be read, if not specifically then generally, in dialogue w twenty-first century feminism shows that it can still be valuable, as a tool fr those w least access to & most need of feminist movement, & as a touchstone for those who identify with & advocate for feminism, to empower people to thought & action, to aid in the re-conceptualisation of power, work and relationships and to re-invigorate the spirit of solidarity across disparate & overlapping communities. not a perfect or absolutely authoritative text, & one that i don't feel entirely convinced by, but worth reading, i think, to challenge & to elaborate & to move forward.
Profile Image for Hestia Istiviani.
897 reviews1,460 followers
July 30, 2022
Perkenalanku dengan apa itu feminisme nggak ujug-ujug dengan bacaan. Awalnya dari celotehan dalam lingkaran pergaulan. For me, it was thought provoking to know that as a women, I also have the right of not being a biological mom aka childfree. Barulah aku menelusur bacaan tentang feminimse & kesetaraan gender.

Ku akui, pola bacaku terbalik. Aku bertemu dengan bell hooks setelah melahap tulisan feminis lain. Sempat mengira kalau Sheryl Sandberg was part of the movement sampai aku baca Feminism, Interrupted-nya Lola Olufemi yang mengkritisi buku Lean In.

Punya privilese sebagai perempuan Jawa dan (di KTP tertulis) muslim, membuatku seperti cishet white woman. Nggak kepikiran sejauh itu untuk benar-benar mendengar mereka yang termaginalkan karena sistem yang seksis & nggak adil.

Tulisan bell hooks sejak Feminism is for Everybody membukakan mataku. Dan semakin bikin mindblowing ketika membaca Feminist Theory from Margin to Center ini.

Esainya perpaduan antara bagaimana aktivisme feminis seharusnya berjalan serta mengkritisi gagasan cishet woman seperti Betty Friedan. Perspektif bell hooks sebagai perempuan kulit berwarna memberikan wawasan baru bagiku: mereka tidak bisa memiih karena tidak punya pilihan akan hidupnya. Berbeda dengan white women.

Dua belas bab dalam buku menangkap secara cermat fenomena yang sering dialami warga kelas kedua. Dia pun juga membahas tentang seksualitas/relasi, pengasuhan anak, dan mendefinisikan ulang apa itu "bekerja."

Semula aku takut nggak mudeng. Nyatanya, bell hooks menulis dengan bahasa yang mudah dipahami. Kasus yang ia ceritakan mendukung gagasan yang coba dikampanyekan. Membuatku menjadi lebih aware dalam melihat & beropini terkait the second class cetizen.

Pantas saja jika banyak yang mengatakan kalau belum baca bell hooks, maka belum belajar apa itu feminisme.
Profile Image for Crito.
240 reviews71 followers
May 29, 2022
A program I can get behind. I think this is valuable not only as an example of the intersectional approach, but as an example during a time where such an approach needed to be argued for, instead of being more or less taken for granted as it is now. hooks mostly engages with other feminists, but keeps an eye to the bigger picture in regards to incentivizing outside groups to challenge their preconceptions in ways those feminisms she critiques have a rough time with (it's not my job to educate you, etc.) It's welcome how seriously hooks takes this, especially in the chapter on education; and her vision of an inclusive broad-appeal feminism is, by her conception, the way to keep feminism from getting in the way of its own goals. It's a program which is orders of magnitude more radical than those which it critiques, and yet also gets to lay claim to the more common sense reforms and prescriptions; hooks somehow gets away with eating her cake and having it. I look forward to more.
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