According to Bell Hooks the author of Feminism is For Everybody, feminism is defined as a movement whose view is to bring to an end sexist exploitation, sexism as well as oppression. This is her definition of feminism in one of her feminist books, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center many which she wrote a decade ago. The topic of feminism seems to be controversial among many feminists as asserted by Yap. This is because there are varying points of views concerning the issue of feminism. Some take it is a men-hatred movement that tends to parade the hatred against men. However, Bell Hooks, in her book Feminism is for Everybody brings forth a clear understanding of the term feminism and a deeper understanding of what feminism entails. In my point of view, I fully support her explanations of what feminism is and what it entails.
In her book, Bell Hooks intends to convince men who have no insight in what feminists really want. Chapter seven of his book talks on feminist class struggle. In this chapter, Bell gives her views on class and behavior. She talks of the teachings that women are given and the overall expectations in regard to their behavior as well as the understanding of women when it comes to problems and how they solve these problems. She provides a view that the liberation of feminism should be linked to a social change vision which questions class elitism. In my point of view, am in support of this view because in the current society, women are supposed to behave in a specified way. For instance, there are various cultural practices that have created a point of demarcation on the manner in which women are supposed to behave in public. According to Quinn women are supposed to be submissive to their husbands and their male counterparts despite the fact that they are sometimes harassed. They are required to take in and remain submissive. Additionally, women are experiences various faces of domestic violence in their homes. Men take advantage of domestic violence because in most cases such violence is never reported as asserted by Yap. These women therefore suffer silently and in pain. Feminists and their activities have come forth to report such cases to make sure that the rights of women are respected. Currently, domestic violence is being reported because there has been a mass awareness among women by feminists to report such cases.
With regard to class, Hook says that women of the same level of education are unable to get employment opportunities that the men are exposed to. In her book she mentions that white women were struggling for class struggle wile explaining the history of feminism. Therefore, Bell presents what feminists are struggling and fighting for that contrasts with what men think feminism is. It is true to say that, most men interpret feminism and feminists differently. Some men take feminists as women who are struggling to have a higher position like that of men in the society. Feminists are also regarded as anti-marriage by most men as they fail to understand that feminism is just an advocacy by these women for their rights in the society as affirmed by Yap. However, this is not the case as feminists and movements of feminism are progressively continuing to campaign for the rights of women such as the right in holding a public office, the right in ownership of property, the right to education, and the right to equal rights in their marriages. Just as Bell Hooks explain in her book, feminists it not all about what men think women want in terms of also dominating them but rather the fight for equal rights.
In her arguments on exploitation, Hook says that white women wanted to be set free from the kind of oppression they experienced from their husbands and men counterparts. Yap makes the observation these women did not only to be housewives who would only take care of their families and take care of family chores but also have employment opportunities and be employed. Moreover, the elite white women were not impressed with the fact that the employment opportunities that they were exposed to and given had low paying incomes. Basically gender discrimination infuriated these women. Therefore, these elite women preferred to stay in their homes rather than go and employed and earn little income. The growth of feminism came as a result of the resistance from the elite white women for equal rights, that is, to be treated equally like their male counterparts with the same level of education as postulated by Quinn. Consequently, there was the onset of resistance against patriarchy or rather male dominion. This in turn created a mass awareness among other women who were also fed up with male dominion. In the current world, women are increasingly struggling to break off from the chains of male dominion. Women are taking up courses that were initially preserved for men in educational institutions. According to Yap women are also holding public offices and are also engaging in politics like their men counterparts. Initially, women had no voice in the society as their major work was to sit at home and take care of household chores. Support the view that gender discrimination has been one of the main reasons behind feministic activities as feminists try to set free women from the bondages of sexual discrimination.
In Hooks point of view, feminists struggle is equated to the struggle against the dominion from men. This male dominion varies from violence that result from male patriarchy experienced at home whereby women are used as a control tool of children and romantic partners, sexual morality imposition, the incapability of women to take control of their own bodies when it comes to reproductive rights in addition to health care and class and race imposition. Moreover, she presents modern society features as stemming from the notions of sexist domination. The initial concern of numerous feminists did not base on racial divides but rather touched on the issue of class. Furthermore, Bell Hooks defines feminism as a movement to end sexism and sexual exploitation. On numerous occasions, women have been sexually exploited and discriminated against because of their sex. Sexual exploitation comes in when women are viewed as sexual tools used to provide pleasure to men.
Bell Hooks also talks of global feminism in her book. She says that “Individual female freedom fighters all over the world have singlehandedly struggled against patriarchy and male domination”. Many years ago, the white women openly declared their fight against male domination and they later on declared themselves liberated. They therefore sought to deliberate other women all over the world especially in the developing countries. The white women tended to associate male domination to imperialism. Bell Hooks also says that many women are currently in the workforce because of the success of the feminists’ fights. Various women are vocally coming out in different countries of the world. There have been laws that have also been enacted to ensure that there is equality when it comes to women and men when it comes to employment employments. In the United States for instance, women are increasingly being employed in different sectors of the United States economy. There have been women who have also actively participated in politics taking leading positions.
Bell Hooks’ opinions on feminism are in line with other feminist writers’ ideas. For instance, this can be seen in one of the quotes found in her book. The quote being “the heartbeat of our alternative vision is still a fundamental and necessary truth: there can be no love when there is domination. Feminist thinking and practice emphasize the value of mutual growth and self-actualization in partnerships and in parenting. This vision of relationships where everyone's needs are respected, where everyone has rights, where no one need fear subordination or abuse, runs counter to everything patriarchy upholds about the structure of relationships”.
However, I disagree with her when she says that women have no control over their bodies and they are being used as birth control instruments. As far as I am concerned, the method of birth control is a mutual discussion between a husband and a wife. Women are not imposed into using a particular family planning method. There are instances whereby certain women actually chose not to use any type of family planning method. Therefore, her opinion may not be entirely true as there is inconsistence on the ground in relation to her opinion.
In conclusion, feminism has been a controversial topic among different stakeholders. Men particularly have conflicting points of view on the issue of feminism as they regard feminism as a movement by feminist to dominate men in the society. On the other hand, some feminist has varying views on feminism arguing that feminism is an ant-men movement, which enables them to stand out without being supported by men. However, Bell Hooks has clearly brought out the actual picture of feminism. According to her point of view, feminism is a movement that seeks to break off from sexism, sexual exploitation in addition to oppression experienced by women. I fully support various views when it comes to feminism.