The Difficulty with Defining Feminism

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The Difficulty with Defining Feminism

In Feminist Theory: from margin to center, bell hook states on the first page what she believes to be the problem with feminism. In her opinion the biggest problem with feminism is that there is no real definition of what feminism is. The definition many people have formulated for feminism is having the goal of making woman socially equal to men. hook’s problem with this is the fact that all men are not socially equal. If women are to be the social equals to men then another question would be which men women will be socially equal to. While many white middle and upper class women accept this definition, the lower socioeconomic classes can not because it does not take race and its disadvantages into account.

One concern of hooks is the fact that many women do not wish to be associated with feminism. With the amount of women that do not wish to be associated with the term it will be hard to make any sort of real transformation socially. She points out that the root of this is that there is no real definition for feminism. While she views it as the struggle to end sexist oppression, many women view it as a lifestyle or associate feminism with lesbianism. In addition, many women view feminism as a white women’s rights group. This excludes oppressed ethnic groups of women. She makes a good point with this issue because before any further goals can be reached, feminism must become something that women want to be a part of. If the very women that would be benefiting from the goals that the group has do not want to be associated with the term, then it makes mainstream society dismiss the group even more than it already does.

It is hard to understand how hook intends to take action as a fem...

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... solution for the oppression of women in society, hook feels like it would not make any progress in the real goal of eliminating sexist oppression. After reading the essay I find myself siding more with hook on this issue. Rich’s solution for oppression of women seems to be to create more valuable relationships between women. While this may be a good idea for part of a solution it seems as though nothing would be accomplished by this in the long run due to the fact that men are not changing behavior in this solution. Nothing seems to be done about the real problem in Rich’s ideas.

After reading a few different readings on feminism and what needs to be done about oppression I have found that I most agree with the direction hook is going. She seems to be very aware of what needs to be done in what order to make feminism strong enough to approach the issues at hand.
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