Jarrah's Reviews > Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

Ain't I a Woman by bell hooks
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it was amazing
bookshelves: race-colonialism, culture-social-science, feminist

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 Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech that this book is named after, but most of us didn't hear about the white women at that convention who screamed, "Don't let her speak! Don't let her speak!" as Truth mounted the platform.

The examples hooks brought forward made me more fully understand why some black women see the label "feminist" as irredeemable, but hooks herself notes the ways in which black women experience sexist oppression alongside of and intersecting with race and class oppression. She argues against separate feminist groups for women of different races, saying, "All women should experience in racially mixed groups affirmation and support. Racism is the barrier that prevents positive communication and it is not eliminated or challenged by separation."

"It is a contradiction that white females have structured a women's liberation movement that is racist and excludes many non-white women," hooks states, "However, the existence of that contradiction should not lead any woman to ignore feminist issues...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."

If anyone wants to understand why feminism needs to become more intersectional this will help give the context and teach about the problems in our past. I see this as an essential part of moving forward to a feminism that doesn't leave some women behind.
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Reading Progress

May 17, 2012 – Shelved
May 17, 2012 – Shelved as: race-colonialism
May 17, 2012 – Shelved as: culture-social-science
May 17, 2012 – Shelved as: feminist
July 8, 2012 – Started Reading
September 3, 2012 – Finished Reading

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