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.
In this 1997 film from the Media Education Foundation, she articulates the value and importance of studying popular culture.