Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

The book ‘Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center’ was written by a feminist author named Bell hooks. It was published in 1984 and was later edited in 2000. This is Hooks’ second book after Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Readers have found the theory provocative and relevant. In this book, Hooks gives hope that feminists around the world can create a mass feminist movement. She addresses the issues affecting the feminist movement: its goals, men’s role in it, pacifism, solidarity and the nature of the revolution. She became one of the most influential voices in feminism, through this book.

All through this book, Hooks criticizes different phases of the American culture and offers possible answers to the problems she encounters. Through her discussions in the book, she argues that the system is corrupt and that such a system cannot achieve gender equality even if it wanted to. Therefore, to envision a life-affirming future, first, there has to be a complete transformation of the system, including the society and all institutions.

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Hooks explains that most of the feminist theories around have come from privileged women who are not aware of the lives of those living on the margin. As a result, most of their theories lack wholeness. It’s the lack of such a feminist theory (one that tackles margin and center together) that inspired her to write this book.

In her book, Hooks uses intersectionality to do her analysis. She criticizes how the feminist movement at the time defined feminism. She sites that it had a lot of racism and classicism in it. Hooks sites that second-wave feminism deflated attention from what the current masses of women were concerned about; which was economic survival and discrimination. Hooks points out that what can make interaction possible in a multi-ethnic society between women is leaning and respecting one another’s culture.

Hooks also emphasizes on men being part of the feminist movement. She criticizes the second-wave feminism for excluding men from the feminist movement. She sites that by doing so, they brought conflict between sexes, as it implied that women empowerment would be possible at the expense of the male sex. For that reason, many women of color are alienated from the feminist movement, whereas those who do are anti-intellectual. She sites that women alone cannot realize the goals of feminism. Since men are the main supporters of sexism, they should be included to transform themselves and the society at large.

Oppression refers to the absence of choices; it varies with every woman. She states that common oppression was emphasized by the feminists at the time, only as a way to address their class interests. They used slogans that gave privileged women the excuse to ignore their social status differences.

Hooks finally discusses power and how it pertains to women. She advocates for education as the main goal of feminism. She criticizes second-wave feminism for focusing only on male violence against women instead of tackling violence wholly as a way of social control

Feminist theory: from margin to center has been a great contribution to feminism and interests feminists all around the world.


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