Monday, 22 July 2013

Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics - bell hooks

Feminist politics aims to end domination to free us to be who we are -- to live lives where we love justice, where we can live in peace. Feminism is for Everybody
I have finally finished this. It’s a ridiculously short book to have taken me so long but I had to read it short bursts to stop myself copying it all out into my notebook. I need everyone I know to read this so that we can discuss how wonderful it is and then make bell hooks our queen. I don’t think she’d be down with being a queen, but I’m sure we could work something out.
I think bell hooks is the only feminist author that I’ve never seen anyone criticise and bad-mouth. Now I know why. 

I don’t even know what to say about it. JUST READ IT.

I guess that won’t do.
Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression
bell hooks wrote Feminism is for Everybody because she wished she had a book she could give to people when they said things like “I’m not a feminist but....” and clearly miss the point of what feminism and the feminist movement are all about. She wanted it to be an accessible book for people outside academia, one that simply explains all of the issues around feminism, and how it intersects with race and class and religion etc. without alienating people with complicated terminology. I think she does a pretty good job of explaining all the terms that she uses and making it accessible for all readers*.
Where Feminism is for Everybody is different from traditional introduction to feminism books is that it’s not all about pay gaps and white girls. I've borrowed a copy of The Equality Illusion by Kat Banyard and (as far as I can tell from the back) it seems to be about pay gaps and unequal numbers of women in top jobs in the city. While this is obviously important stuff, it seems to me, and bell hooks, that this is really just tinkering with a system that is inherently wrong. The system is unfairly stacked in favour of white men, not because it is broken, but because it is working exactly as it was designed. Helping some women, inevitably privileged white women, will not further the cause of feminism for all women. This book is about how feminism is truly for, and will benefit, everybody whether they are male, female, straight, queer, working-class, middle-class, white, non-white etc. And most of all, how we need to change our society because it is built on domination and oppression. But rather than depress me about how much oppression their is in the world, this book has made me feel excited to imagine a world built on justice and love respect.

Who's coming to smash this white supremacist capitalist patriarchy with me?

Because my review made NO SENSE here are some quotes:

We do know that patriarchal masculinity encourages men to be pathologically narcissistic, infantile, and psychologically dependent on the privileges (however relative) that they receive simply for having been born male. Many men feel that their lives are being threatened if these privileges are taken away, as they have structured no meaningful core identity.

(on feminism being associated with hatred and anger:)
In actuality we should have been spreading the word that feminism would make it possible for men and women to know love. We know that now. 

Sexually conservative feminists, gay and straight, found and continue to find consensual rituals of domination and submission inappropriate and see them as betraying feminist ideals of freedom. Their absolute judgement, their refusal to respect the rights of all women to choose the sexual practice they find most fulfilling, is in actuality the stance which most undermines the feminist movement.

If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.

When we accept that true love is rooted in recognition and acceptance, that love combines acknowledgement, care, responsibility, commitment, and knowledge, we understand that there can be no love without justice. With that awareness comes the understanding that love has the power to transform us, giving us the strength to oppose domination. To choose feminist politics, then, is the choice to love.
*I am a very bad judge of this because I love reading anything with words like “Diaspora” or “hegemony” and everything seems beautifully simple after trying to decipher Judith Butler. 


  1. Ahem. NEED TO BORROW PLEASE!! Also this did totally make sense! ALSO why are there no capitals in bell hooks because that's bugging me...

    1. I dunno wikipedia just says "intentionally uncapitalised" perhaps she doesn't want to oppress the other letters?