Sunday, July 11, 2021

Summary: Bell Hooks / Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center is a Bell Hooks essaypublished in 1984, on radical feminist thought. He calls for the inclusion in the feminist movement of black women located on the "margins", invisible in American society, and ignored, according to the author, by white women who produced feminist theory and who are in turn located at " center.
Analysis of the failure of American feminism .

Bell Hooks believes that American feminism has failed in public opinion. The weakness of this movement could be explained, according to her, not by the dominant misogyny, but by the fact that it holds an incoherent discourse: feminism "carries the demands for equality of those who are privileged according to race, class, and social norms ” . Bell Hooks thus detects an ethnocentric and classist bias in a feminist language that is itself critical, moreover, with regard to sexist biases  . The way to overcome these perspective distortions as it is to rehabilitate the view racialized women and minoritized. Black women must leave the margins to which they have been relegated, to become part of the center of feminist theory and action (“moving from Margin to Center”) .

Hooks analyzes in particular Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963) which, according to her, takes too narrow an approach to the reality of women, even if she considers it useful to understand the effects of sexist discrimination on housewives, graduates college, white, married, middle and upper class. hooks criticizes Betty Friedan for not discussing the experiences or needs of women without men, children, homeless, non-white or poor.

In the preface to the new edition of the book in 2000, Bell Hooks says she wrote to fill a gap, that of a theory that takes into account not only gender , but also race and class.

While American feminism is generally conceived of as an affair of women exclusively, Bell Hooks argues that men should be included in this movement. Indeed, according to this author, men are also victims of sexism , which subjects them to restrictive standards, and obliges them to mutilate themselves on one part of themselves; members of both sexes should engage in a common struggle against gender-based oppression . In addition, Hooks recalls that women Popular racialized backgrounds compete with men on racism and poverty , and that they therefore can not dissociate themselves from their companions . American feminists who exclude men from their movement, by identifying them with the "oppressor", adopt a bourgeois point of view, which obscures the question of inequality between social classes, to focus exclusively on inequality between social classes and sexes .
The notion of sorority masks the differences in social situation between certain groups of women; Sorority also mask the racism that sometimes separates women racialized them as separates white and racialized women . Bell Hooks proposes to replace the sorority according to her illusory by a political solidarity between groups of women  .
Influenced by Paolo Freire's work , Pédagogie des opprimés (1969), Bell Hooks advocates on the one hand an increased effort for the literacy of black women and, on the other hand, a decolonization of knowledge, in particular of those produced by the American feminist movement .

Bell Hooks sees education as a "practice of freedom", in the wake of Paolo Freire , but observes a certain "anti-intellectualism" on the part of a number of black activists, which she sees as an effect of their limited access. education, but also as an understandable rejection of theories poorly identified from a colonial way of thinking . Bell Hooks "shows that privileged feminists, by objectifying the experiences of black women, reduced them to objects of study or to alibis of feminist and gender studies ".

Radical feminism 
Hooks can be identified in this work as a radical feminist because of her thesis that with the system corrupted, achieving equality in such a system is neither possible nor desirable. Its approach thus distinguishes it from that of a more traditional feminism, which wants to act on the behavior of individuals, without changing social organization . Bell Hooks promotes a complete transformation of society and all its institutions , a non-violent revolution that involves the inclusion of black women on the margins of society, but also by that "of men affected by the effects of capitalist systems , racist, imperialist and colonialist and the institutionalization of the patriarchy ”