Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism eBook –

Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism 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 decisionmaking 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 nothing Calling society racist accomplishes nothing Calling the world racist accomplishes nothing, and in fact solipsistically applies the framework of United States oppression theory to a vast spectra of bigotry, each impacting the other but never, ever, the same In a word, calling out an observation does nothing Appropriating the patriarchal scientific method for a moment, one hypothesizes, experiments, hypothesizes, experiments, ad infinitum Call out your observations, wonder why, go forth, call out, wonder, go forth Never, ever, stop Historically, white patriarchs rarely referred to the racial identity of white women because they believed that the subject of race was political and therefore would contaminate the sanctified domain of “white” women’s reality By verbally denying white women racial identity, that is by simply referring to them as women when what they really meant was white women, their status was reduced to that of nonperson.White feminists did not challenge the racistsexist tendency to use the word “woman” to refer solely to white women; they supported it For them it served two purposes First, it allowed them to proclaim white men world oppressors while making it appear linguistically that no alliance existed between white women and white men based on shared racial imperialism Second, it made it possible for white women to act as if alliances did exist between themselves and nonwhite women in our society, and by doing so they could deflect attention away from their classism and racism hooks called out both feminists I've read and feminists I'm planning to read, and yet I will continue to use the information I have learned and will seek outof the same An answer to the wherefore lies in my inherently valuing the critical process farthan the perfection of the accumulated tidbits, a holistic rejection of the freeze frame, the weighing, the hierarchy of the patriarchy implying white imperialism and androcentrism and so much else It is far easier to hate everything else than it is to incorporate that everything else into a deconstruction of that hate, but if you proclaim yourself an agent of justice, that is what you must do We cannot form an accurate picture of woman’s status by simply calling attention to the role assigned females under patriarchy More specifically, we cannot form an accurate picture of the status of black women by simply focusing on racial hierarchies.Scholars have argued further that by not allowing black men to assume their traditional patriarchal status, white men effectively emasculated them, reducing them to an effeminate state Implicit in this assertion is the assumption that the worst that can happen to a man is that he be made to assume the social status of woman I'll rest when a black trans lesbian, a recovering addict who grew up in poverty and was once a sex worker, is the President of the United States Inconceivable enough to almost everyone as of now, but that list of characteristics will only grow longer during my lifetime of reading, writing, and thinking, for the lack of academic discourse on that particular combination of bigotry does not prevent me from being aware of the existence of individuals who, by sheer coincidence of birth, fit the bill That coincidence should not choke aspirations of leadership in the highest echelons from the get go What must change is not the aspirations, but the choking “I know ofthan one colored woman who was openly importuned by white women to become the mistresses of their white husbands, on the grounds that they, the white wives, were afraid that, if their husbands did not associate with colored women, they would certainly do so with outside white women, and the white wives, for reasons which ought to be perfectly obvious, preferred to have their husbands do wrong with the colored women in order to keep their husbands straight.”I interviewed a black woman usually employed as a clerk who was living in near poverty, yet she continually emphasized the fact that black woman was matriarchal, powerful, in control of her life; in fact she was nearly having a nervous breakdown trying to make ends meet hooks did not touch on queer theory She did not call out the disrespectful and dehumanizing view of China and its culture in one of her used quotes She did not cite her sources as explicitly as most, although the very concept of citations evolves from the quick and easy rhetoric of the patriarchy that engulfs its oppression in seeming ethos while in reality making the rules so as to have something to mewl and puke about when the institution is threatened, as if the rules themselves as with racism were anything but conjured out of thin air and as such can be treated accordingly (similar to how Goodreads keeps capitalizing her name aka disrespecting her autonomy in the effort to preserve the fragile sanctity of its holy search function) However, her holistic breakdown of white, black, male, female, without ever playing one off the other, is a lesson of criticizing the complex web of indoctrination oppression that can be applied to any intersectional social justice The patriarchy is a bloated blight, spanning from its emphasis on capitalism to its compromised inheritance, all in the effort to reduce humanity to ciphers of privilege for this or that or any old reason of difference, difference, difference Life is politics is life is a multifarious thing, and will not limit its splintered evolution for the sake of your selfhelp book view of life Feminism as a political ideology advocating social equality for all women was and is acceptable to many black women They rejected the women’s movement when it became apparent that middle and upper class collegeeducated white women who were its majority participants were determined to shape the movement so that it would serve their own opportunistic ends.To those who saw feminism solely as a way to demand entrance into the white male power structure, it simplified matters to make all men oppressors and all women victims Any idea can be abused What matters is the willingness to pay heed to the consequences and the neverending effort to push that idea to its ultimate limits of inclusiveness of every being deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness And then some Racism is the barrier that prevents positive communication and it is not eliminated or challenged by separation White women supported the formation of separate groups because it confirmed their preconceived racistsexist notion that no connection existed between their experiences and those of black women.It in no way diminishes our concern about racist oppression for us to acknowledge that our human experience is so complex that we cannot understand it if we only understand racism The Internet enables me to say these words without fear of physical retribution Words words words, of course, but I am a writer, and once upon a time my words were not so good Once upon a time, everything I stood for and how I stood for it was not so good The memory of that, if nothing else, is what keeps me going A feminism so rooted in envy, fear, and idealization of male power cannot expose the dehumanizing effect of sexism on men and women in American society.Our willingness to assume responsibility for the elimination of racism need not be engendered by feelings of guilt, moral responsibility, victimization, or rage It can spring from a heartfelt desire for sisterhood and the personal, intellectual realization that racism among women undermines the potential radicalism of feminism.That sisterhood cannot be forged by the mere saying of words It is the outcome of continued growth and change It is a goal to be reached, a process of becoming The process begins with action, with the individual woman’s refusal to accept any set of myths, stereotypes, and false assumptions that deny the shared commonness of her human experience; that deny her capacity to experience the Unity of all life, that deny her capacity to bridge gaps created by racism, sexism, or classism; that deny her ability to change The process begins the 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 She wrote this at nineteen Imagine that Now go forth. 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 be a great series on the modern woman On the modern feminist It reminded me how left out I feel about most feminist work and things in pop culture geared towards women I want to be interested because media is telling me it's for me But then I realized how much it isn't and I wondered constantly about the seperation Because of this I went to Ain't I a Woman, a book I tried to read at 15 but needed nowthan ever The history of the feminist movement shared in this book is incredible The fact that it didn't want anything to do with black women made me think that we still have quite a long way to go To look at this body of work in today's light, you can't deny that still women=white women and black=black men How much are we still left out of the equation? And for that question, I can only say how important this book is for all women over two decades later There is a sense among most reviewers that AIAW is a good but somewhat jumbled term paper But to find out that Ms hooks was an undergraduate when this was written gives one the understanding that this is the beginning of hooks in the movement This is an incredible work for someone who was not a professor or not yet an expert in this field And to understand that, it opens the doors for much of her later work and opens the doors for other black feminist writers and historians I took my time reading AIAW There was a sense that in some ways she was preaching to the choir but even the choir is shocked by this message I think her intention was not to rant, to call out, or shame but to teach To educate ALL women and men in the movement And for that I am extremely thankful for this book There's this idea that feminism is a radical thing but when approached in the right way, it's there to open your eyes to the long history of inequality A history that is often being repeated Feminism done right is there to radically change your mind about what your role is while walking through this life This book will make you rethink what it means to be a black woman. 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 pointsofview that I've read/listened about online It was published in 1987, so it's not completely uptodate, 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 Particularly focusing on white women's feminism and how white feminism has historically excluded black women (and women of colour) from it.I'd really recommend it Her writing is powerful, unapologetic, and important.(also lots of today's mainstream white feminists could do with reading this tbhhhh) Radical Accessible, we needbell hooks!The Good:I was setting a high bar expecting something similar to Angela Y Davis’ Women, Race Class and Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, and to my delight bell hooks exceeded these expectations bell hooks exemplifies intersectionality at its best: radical, principled critique while still grasping the big picture by maintaining solidarity and giving room for change (thus, not a cynical armchair revolutionary).…This is no easy feat; there will always be a range of reactions with misinterpretations slipping beyond your control However, bell hooks eloquently demonstrates that her critiques are meant to build on (by working out contradictions) rather than tear down or diminish movements Fallacies are methodically unraveled in an accessible manner (we have enough dry academic tomes that will never see the light of day in social movements), with summaries like this that strike at the core: In all these struggles we must be assertive and challenging, combating the deepseated tendency in Americans to be liberal, that is, to evade struggling over questions of principle for fear of creating tensions or becoming unpopular Instead we must live by the fundamental dialectical principle: that progress comes only from struggling to resolve contradictions.Highlights:1) Legacies of slavery, especially the additional sexism towards black women in their field and domestic slave labor.2) 19th century capitalist development transforming the image of white women from sinful temptress to virtuous innocence (in contrast to the image of black women) 3) Conflict and fallacies with white liberal feminism and black male antiracism (similar to Women, Race Class) A particular focus is unpacking the myth of black men’s emasculation (difficulties becoming the breadwinner) and corresponding myth of black matriarchy (popularized by the 1965 Moynihan Report) and how they perpetuate capitalist patriarchal worldviews The Missing:This book is a crash course social analysis overview; a useful pairing would be Cornel West’s Race Matters: With a New Introduction Key topical reads include The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.While bell hooks builds from important frameworks in political economy and historical materialism, a deeper dive into these structures of realworld capitalism will fill out the other half of hook’s analyses such as this: While feminist supporters like to think that feminism has been the motivating force behind changes in woman’s role, in actuality changes in the American capitalist economy have had the greatest impact on the status of women More women than ever before are in America’s work force not because of feminism but because families can no longer rely on the income of the father Feminism has been used as a psychological tool to make women think that work they might otherwise see as boring, tedious, and time consuming is liberating For whether feminism exists or not, women must work. 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 secondwave 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 mefully 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 nonwhite women, hooks states, However, the existence of that contradiction should not lead any woman to ignore feminist issuesI choose to reappropriate 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 becomeintersectional 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. A very informative book! 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 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 historical inaccuracies or generalizations These minor missteps do not change the validity of the conclusions she draws, and, consequently, are just ivory tower quibbling Her clarion call ending, demanding a radical transformative force in American society to dismantle the institutions that merely perpetuate these oppressions restates Fanon's call for the New Man with a much better understanding of the pitfalls along the way If only Fanon would have realized that entrusting the revolution to patriarchs does not result in anyone being free, and instead merely reanimates the rotting cadaver of Europe; a monstrous edifice made flesh. 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 it launched the career of one of the most prolific and influential American cultural critics of the last several decades As a piece of scholarship, it certainly has limitations: It makes too many broad historical generalizations, it doesn't grapple with the fact that the United States is made up of people who are neither white nor black, it's somewhat heteronormative, and many sources are not cited However, as a piece of rhetoric, it's wellwritten, insightful, and certainly effective Three stars. My book group is reading TaNehisi 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 of what I thought I knew about myself, my culture, and my country’s history This book is stunning in its scope and its use of literature, history, and contemporary interviews to help both white and black women understand the unconscious racism and sexism that resides within and without I’d heard of bell hooks but never read her work This book is an essential read for any woman who wants to understand the challenges of building a woman’s movement that is inclusive and able to address the concerns of women in all classes and racial groups I read a library copy but want to own one so I can read it again and again I was frustrated that I couldn’t underline and make notes, something that this books compels you to do The author doesn’t just challenge white women She takes on patriarchy and all its dysfunctions with the black community as well While this was originally written when she was in grad school and published in 1981, most of it is very relevant to today In the face of the election of Donald Trump, the #metoo movement, and the support Roy Moore had in his senate race, women have asked, “how could women vote for or support so many of these people?” This book helps you understand that dynamic Yes, women are racist and sexist and will undermine feminism if it is in the interest of the patriarchy that they are intimately ensnared in One criticism made of her work is that she never provides footnotes or detailed references in her work I didn’t think that was such a big deal But as I read so many of the excellent historical excerpts she included, I wanted to know where the original source could be found You’d have to do a lot of research to do that I have concluded that this is a significant flaw in this book but the content overcomes it enough to award 5 stars Still, it is something I wish she’d correct in a new edition Many contemporary black women writing about the challenges of being a black woman in 21st century America are standing on the shoulders of bell hooks Read this Now It’s too important not to.

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