This recurring feature, curated for now by Pilgrim Soul unless other Harpies wish to leap in, directs Harpy readers to important feminist thoughts and concepts as spoken by some of her favourite feminists on and off the web. The appraisal of the value of these snippets is, of course, entirely Pilgrim Soul’s, and does not necessarily reflect the views of other Harpies. Feel free to discuss in the comments here.
Today’s Feminist Food For Thought comes from bell hooks, who has written countless books and essays about race, gender, class and culture. Here she is talking about the role of “equality” in feminism in Feminist Theory: From Magin to Center, which was written in 1984:
Women in lower-class and poor groups, particularly those whoare non-white, would not have defined women’s liberation as women gaining social equality with men, since they are continually reminded in their everyday lives that all women do not share a common social status. Concurrently, they know that many males in their social groups are exploited and oppressed. Knowing that men in their groups do not have social, political and economic power, they would not deem it liberatory to share their social status. While they are aware that sexism enables men in their respective groups to have privileges that are denied them, they are more likely to see exaggerated expressions of male chauvinism among their peers as stemming from the male’s sense of himself as powerless and ineffectual in relation to ruling male groups, rather than an expression of an overall privileged social status. From the very onset of the women’s liberation movement, these women were suspicious of feminism precisely because they recognized the limitations inherent in its definition. They recognized the possibility that feminism defined as social equality with men might easily become a movement that would primarily affect the social standing of white women in middle- and upper-class groups while affecting only in a very marginal way the social status of working-class and poor women.
Et tu, commenters? Do you think the goal of feminism should be equality with men? Do you think that chauvinist acts by disenfranchised classes of men (whether economically or racially-disenfranchised) are best understood as expressions of frustration?