“Look! I married you a certain way! I like women who look a certain way! It’s my right to like women who look a certain way and I shouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life not being happy,” Brad exclaimed.
The retort from my friend Jasmine’s husband was a reaction to her staunch refusal to get ‘another set’ less than two months after removing the implants that nearly cost her her life. For nearly a decade Jasmine endured numerous health complications that Western doctors claimed had nothing to do with her silicone breast implants.
Brad seemed different from her last fiance, which is why Jasmine married him. He seemed open-minded, kind, forgiving, gentle, nurturing, and accepting. When she sprouted a few stray gray hairs in her late twenties he urged her not to pluck them saying he loved her “wisdom hairs.”
Tim, her boyfriend a decade earlier, told her she was perfect and the “girl of his dreams.” Well, almost. She was the girl of his dreams except her breasts were too small and she’d be perfect if they were bigger. In fact he’d marry her if she’d consider breast enlargement surgery. Within a week Jasmine, then 18 years old in 1990, found herself under the knife. When she woke up the static and lifeless silicone orbs on her chest were much larger than what she had agreed to during the initial consultation. The consultation that came within days of her halfheartedly agreeing to consider them.
Jasmine was genetically tiny and naturally beautiful by today’s standard. Now she embodied the girl on the back of a trucker’s mudflap. Tim’s version of the perfect wife. As promised, they were quickly engaged and twenty-five-year-old Tim, the ‘hot guy’ in town, paraded her around like a trophy–until she had the courage to leave him for being emotionally abusive and controlling.
bell hooks has been an inspiration to me for a long time. I’ve seen her speak over four times and I leave feeling invigorated and awake each time. She speaks in a language that is clear, intelligent and accessible. I appreciate her ability to speak to women and men within and outside academia and spread the word about sexism, racism, homophobia and classism.
To me, she has created that important bridge into the mainstream and has committed herself to becoming not just a scholar but a public intellectual.
I have many favorites from the prolific bell hooks but I find that Feminism is for Everybody truly exposes the multifaceted heart of feminism in an accessible and engaging way.
From chapter 1: Feminist Politics
Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism exploitation and oppression.This was a definition of feminism I offered in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center more than 10 years ago.It was my hope at the time that it would become a common definition everyone would use.I liked this definition because it did not imply men were the enemy.By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter.Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult.It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism.As a definition it is open-ended.To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.
From chapter 2: Consciousness-Raising
Feminists are made, not born.One does not become an advocate of feminist politics simply by having the privilege of having been born female.Like all political positions one becomes a believer in feminist politics through choice and action.When women first organized in groups to talk together about the issue of sexism and male domination, they were clear that females were as socialized to believe sexist thinking and values as males, the difference being simply that males benefited from sexism more than females and whereas a consequence less likely to want to surrender patriarchal privilege.Before women could change patriarchy we had to change ourselves; we had to raise our consciousness.
Eve Ensler has long been a source of inspiration for me but her recent piece in the Huffington Post on September 8 articulated what I feel deeply in such a moving way that I had to read a second time aloud. Ensler connects Palin’s aggression toward the planet, women, and women’s bodies in a way that brings forth Palin’s support for the model of domination and intolerance lucidly. These connections and her serious call for solidarity and action parallels my own feelings of urgency and vigilance at this critical juncture.
“I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.”
One blogger responded to Ensler by asking, “Is the feminist movement liberal-only? I encourage feminists to be proud that a woman has finally received a place on the GOP ticket. Use your vote however you want, but don’t dismiss an achievement within the women’s movement simply because she has conservative views.”I don’t view Palin’s presence in the political stratisphere as even a remote victory for the women’s movement as it in NO way supports the tenants of the women’s movement.
“…let’s take the issue of abortion. If feminism is a movement to end sexist oppression, and depriving females of reproductive rights is a form of sexist oppression, then one cannot be anti-choice and be feminist. A woman can insist she would never choose to have an abortion while affirming her support of the right of women to choose and still be an advocate of feminist politics. She cannot be anti-abortion while affirming her support of the right of women to choose and still be an advocate of feminist politics. She cannot be anti-abortion and an advocate of feminism. Concurrently there can be no such thing as “power feminism” if the vision of power evoked is power gained through the exploitation and oppression of others.”