Share for friends:

Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000)

Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000)

Book Info

4.16 of 5 Votes: 4
Your rating
0896086283 (ISBN13: 9780896086289)
south end press

About book Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000)

Not until recently had I emerged out of the rock I was living under and located the @everydaysexism twitter account. Keeping an eye on their retweets for a little less than two weeks enabled me to discover that women are not only forced to endure the lecherous male gaze (often called 'stare rape' these days) on public transportation, made the object of innuendo-laced, denigrating remarks since puberty but also masturbated at in public without their consent (not even women over 60 had been spared) . How blissfully ignorant I was of this last facet of everyday sexual harassment! I went on a kind of mad rampage immediately, flooding my timeline with a deluge of tweets on the subject, appealing to more of my followers to follow the everyday sexism account. A day later when I had checked back in eagerly in the hopes of noticing any visible change - NOTHING. Not even one person among my followers (I have nearly 1600 which maybe just a handful but it's not a very teeny number either) had honored my request apart from the 3 who were already following them - all of them women or women's issues related accounts yes (Zanna is one).It was then that I realized, 'feminism' in the 21st century is actually like a hip, new item of home decor that you place on a wall cabinet among the other borrowed, trendy opinions you profess as personal philosophy, then forget about. Whenever some horrendous instance of brutality against a woman makes the morning news headlines, everyone's 'tch-tch-ing' fake concern for civilization resurfaces, spills over into the realm of their office lunch hour debates and after a while dies a natural death. Then they go back to the comfort of their tweleb status by posting the same old 'jokes' about dumb blondes, unreasonable wives, sluts, 'cunts', boobs and what have you, each of which are guaranteed to get at least 20+ retweets. Lulz just chill, we're all kidding here, getting our kicks out of reinforcing the same old stereotypes that have done considerable damage to society since the dawn of time. No harm done.It is this same all-pervading reluctance of acknowledging the efficacy of a concept like feminism as a panacea for sexism, violence and all the other concomitant shit women face every single moment of their lives that forms the backbone of bell hooks's work.She merely chooses to use 'white supremacist capitalist patriarchy' as a refrain so as to hammer this information into our brains. Yes the recurrence of this phrase gets dull after a while, yes it is somewhat annoying but no it is not irrelevant. Especially since bell hooks seems to support the branch of feminism which brings the concept of equality for everyone (including homosexuals) in all walks of life - sexual, economic, social and religious - under its envelope. She summarizes the inception and journey of the feminist movement through the decades - how it made its first proper appearance (second wave) in the U.S. in the 60s with the waves of bra-burning (she is not against bra-burning btw), angry women who had major grievances against a domestic arrangement where they held little to no power, how initially they believed 'feminism to be the theory and lesbianism the practice', how it has undergone gradual improvement to evolve into the polished academic discipline that it is today, how it was seen as an anathema in the past and how it continues to face a steadily growing list of challenges - apathy of mass media being a major one. She deftly interweaves feminism with the idea of politics, class struggle, physical beauty, love, religion, marriage, reproductive rights, parenting, masculinity and race to present before us a realistic picture of what truly internalizing its precepts can mean for us and our future. But all the conventionally known preachings of the book aside, she makes another very pertinent point about stripping the verbiage of jargon from all the academic work on feminism to make them more accessible to students and laymen alike, and working together to raise awareness of how feminism isn't inherently 'anti-men' or 'anti-religion' or even simply restricted to serving the interests of women in civilization, how feminism is for everybody. "Today in academic circles much of the most celebrated feminist theory is written in a sophisticated jargon that only the well-educated can read. Most people in our society do not have a basic understanding of feminism; they cannot acquire that understanding from a wealth of diverse material, grade school-level primers, and so on, because this material does not exist. We must create it if we are to rebuild feminist movement that is truly for everyone."To come to the negatives, there are almost none except the monotonous drone in which Hooks drives home her points which makes the reading experience little less than enjoyable, the drabness of her prose and the way her repeated references to her own writings reek of self-importance. And to further account for that missing star, I have this teeny niggling doubt about her defining acts of 'domestic violence', even those carried out by women against other women and children, as 'patriarchal violence'. She reckons some women have been so rigorously conditioned by the patriarchal world order based on principles of domination through violence and other acts of intimidation, that they re-enact the same in their daily lives while dealing with people inferior in status to themselves. Which I agree with but my limited knowledge of the world and its assorted contradictions tells me it's not just the men. Some primeval inclination towards violence and skewing the power balance in any relationship is embedded in the human psyche in general, irrespective of sex. But that aside, the overarching message one gets from hooks's outlook is that the traditional notions of 'manhood' and 'masculinity' have to be flushed down the toilet for feminism to even have a chance at victory. And there's no second guessing it.

I liked this book and would absolutely recommend it, but I think the title was misleading and it didn't serve hook's purpose, as I understood it. She calls for the creation of feminist children's books, door-to-door chats, accessible explanations of feminism to those for whom "feminism" is the other "f" word. This is just another example of the academization of feminism hooks critiques; Its language is not exactly easy to follow, it assumes sympathy to feminism from the first page, and relies on at least some prior knowledge. It's less of the introduction it frames itself as and more of a mid-level course (but an excellent one which continues to be relevant 12 years after publication, hello, birth control and abortion debate!). I'd have called it The Patriarchy Hurts Everybody, as that's the main (and totally valid!) argument she makes here. (Also: she straight up says you cannot be pro-life and a feminist, which I 100% agree with, but makes for a sloppy title.)My other issues, from the petty to the more serious. 1: Who the hell proofread this and what did they have against commas? 2: I read the phrase "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy" so many times that it stopped having meaning. (Also: this is what I mean about the language not being the most accessible).3: The book makes some very excellent points about internalized misogyny manifesting in mother to child violence and abuse, which I honestly hadn't thought of before, and does mention that some men find themselves experiencing domestic violence, not as the abuser but as the abused, but seems to ignore homophobia and the myriad of violence it carries with it, for men and women, as an aspect of the sexism entrenched within our society. Seemed like kind of a gaping omission. 4: Speaking of gaping omissions, there was not a single mention of trans* women (or men). This was disappointing, but honestly not shocking. Trans* women may not have the all of the exact same concerns as cis women (mostly when it comes to abortions and contraceptives to prevent pregnancy) but this doesn't mean they aren't women just the same and shouldn't be part of the "everybody" in the title. I wasn't surprised to see trans* women left out, but it does speak to one of hooks' central themes: that feminist women too often get stuck in the constraints of race, class, sexuality, political affiliation education level, and nationality and we need to look beyond them in order to attain true "sisterhood". I just wish she'd included sex/gender identity in that list as well.5: I was actually deeply distressed by the amount of times she made the connection between lesbianism (and to a lesser extent, bisexuality) and the notion of choice. It came up so often that it can't have been a misunderstanding on my part. I sincerely hope what she meant was more along the lines of "the choice to live as an out lesbian/bisexual woman and to embrace that side of oneself" and not "the choice to BE a lesbian/bisexual woman". Though she only explicitly states this version once (page 88 "choosing bisexual practice"), every other mention of sexuality and choice seems to frame queerness as an active decision. Just in case this is any way unclear: coming out of the closet is (usually and ideally) a choice. The way in which you present (whether or not you can "pass") is also, usually, a choice. Being in the closet in the first place? Is not. This aspect of the book left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth and is the reason I can't give it more than 3 stars.Despite my issues with Feminism is for Everybody I still wholeheartedly agree, am still proud to call myself a feminist, and greatly enjoyed reading something academic in nature after nearly 2 years out of college. It's been a while since I've read anything which made me think the way this did, and I missed engaging with texts.

Do You like book Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000)?

I wanted to read this for a good few months now. And after finally getting down to it... I was underwhelmed.The introduction promises essentially a 'beginner's guide to feminism'. That's not what I just read. It flits between being too vague and simplistic, to being very indepth and complex. Some parts of the book seem to just wave around facts and statements without any explanation, simply arguing that X is a problem. No examples of why it's a problem, just that it is. And then she'll just suggest that something has to change, without really suggesting any ways that change could be implemented. While other times, she gets very bogged down talking about complex hierarchical structures within society which certainly are not going to captivate anyone who really is a 'beginner' in feminism.Another thing that kind of got me was the lack of secondary sourcing. I don't mean to sound like a university lecturer (and nothing irritates me more than when I actually am trying to quote a source and their entire work seems to be made up of quotes from other people) but off the top of my head, I can think of two books that are quoted in these 100 pages. Other than that, it's just hooks referring back to her previous work, and occasionally making vague allusions to "numerous studies" or "all reports" without ever actually talking about what she is basing her findings on.A lot of times her work seemed to come across as very bitter at society aswell. And being a black lesbian, it's understandable that she's faced a lot of injustice and is angry about it. But when she opens her book talking about how important sisterhood is (a concept that I don't necessarily agree fully with) she spends a lot of time talking about how other women haven't done the Right Feminism. All of this while also talking about there AREN'T different strands of feminism; feminist movement is feminism and that is that.Some of the chapters were really great, and I enjoyed them a lot. The chapter on Marriage and Partnership was insightful (but, again, lacked any really advice on HOW to reach this utopian partnership she kept demanding was necessary), but a lot of the insightful chapters I found were TOO short - she would make some good points, and then move on to the next subject without ever really developing her points.So yeah, some of this was good. Some of it was far too complex for someone who is apparently opposed to academic vocabulary and wanted to create something accessible. Despite all of these negative points, there was a lot of goodness in this book; it just appeared to be very, very heavily weighted under some questionable views and phrasings. {read 06/01/15 - 07/01/15}

A while back I was accused of being a feminist, to which my reply was "am not!" After reading bell hooks, I'm going back to that person to say "you're right. I am a feminist, and let me tell you why..."I guess what I learned is that feminism isn't the f-word. Feminists are not man-haters, they aren't all lesbian (not that I thought either of these, but now I have enough material to cite when others make such unwitting remarks), and I think most importantly to my cultural background, they support family and marriage. Feminists strive for families and marriages that are not sexist, patriarchal or oppressive. bell hooks addresses issues of reproductive rights, body image, education, class struggle, race, violence, parenting, marriage, politics and spirituality - the last being the most important to me. Coming from the background of two male-headed churches, I was most concerned with questions of the soul when I ventured into feminism. I've had questions about dualism - a belief that categorizes people into good and evil, superior and inferior - in Western religious thought. hooks believes this to be the "ideological foundation of all forms of oppression, sexism, racism, etc," and I quite agree. I have heard and read the thoughts of those fundamentalists who demonize feminism, and I see their tirades as destructive and demeaning to women. hooks puts it beautifully, "Fundamentalism not only encourages folks to believe that inequality is 'natural,' it perpetuates the opinion that control of the female body is necessary."hooks is also constantly calling for feminist literature that is accessible to all classes, races, and educational levels. This is where my critique comes. "Feminism is for Everybody" is meant to be accessible to...everybody. But it is still packed with sophisticated and political jargon, and I don't see anyone but well-educated women picking this up in the bookstore. I know some men have read and really liked this book, but the people who REALLY need to read it are the ones who wouldn't give it a second look. It's all good in theory, but I'd like to see bell hooks and other feminist writers put this into practice.

After reading this book, I can understand why it's recommended as the best primer on feminism. bell hooks is interested in tracing out an expansive view of feminism, one with the historical understanding of why the movement evolved the way it did, and what should be done to bring it back to its roots. But she manages to do so in some of the most plainspoken language out there. Sure, she'll drop lots of "-ist" language when discussing the issues that often weave through the feminist frame (race, class, gender, etc.) but they're all pretty self-explanatory and she justifies their placement in the text.So is it really the best first book to read on feminism? Well, yes and no. It's certainly the best intro book on theory out there, but a better way in might be reading a feminist critique of something else. For all bell hooks' amazing efforts at easing the way in, jumping straight into the theory can be rough unless you already agree with some of the major premises. Other books—like The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi—systematically lay out the evidence about how sexism still exists today and how poisonous it can be. Sometimes, more specificity is better. Still, a pretty good book and a really quick read.
—Greg Brown

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Bell Hooks

Other books in category Fiction