I’ve been reading a book by Bell Hooks on my holiday. It gave me a much better insight in the history of white mainstream feminism, their racism and classicism and it also showed me that their feminism is far from my feminism. The thought that all feminists resist the capitalist patriarchy, that they want to create a new world, with different forms of community, with other views on work and workers, with real liberation as keyword, has for some time been erased from my head, no naivety about that any more. Feminism, especially in the Netherlands where I live, is mainly liberal feminism, with much emphasis on how YOU as an individual can improve your life and how YOU can deal with sexism (that should not be exaggerated to much, because most men are just stupid Neanderthalers after all that can’t help it) and how YOU can help those poor oppressed Muslim women in their struggle against their horrible men. I wonder if they even believe patriarchy exists at all. I have always resented the way women and men are applauding the single fact that women are getting more jobs and working more outside of the home. As if having a job, whatever kind of a shitty payed job, would always be the way to liberation, to independence. I saw my mother working for little money when I was younger and I know it didn’t liberate her at all. She liberated herself by stepping out of an abusive relationship and no woman helped her with that.
Bell Hooks gives exactly the reasons why I am so sick of these white liberal capitalist patriarchy defending feminists, who even have the nerve to look down on more radical feminist views and ideas.
Some quotes from Bell Hooks’ work ‘Ain’t I a woman’:
(…)not all women are equally oppressed because some women are able to use their class, race, and educational privilege to effectively resist sexist oppression. Initially, class privilege was not discussed by white women in the women’s movement…as a group, white participants did not denounce capitalism. They choose to define liberation using the terms of white capitalist patriarchy, equating liberation with gaining economic status and money power. Like all good capitalist, the proclaimed work as the key to liberation. This emphasis on work was yet another indication of the extent to which female liberationalist’ perception of reality was totally narcissistic, classicist and racist. Implicit in the assertion that work was the key to women’s liberation was a refusal to acknowledge the reality that, for the masses of American working class women, working for pay neither liberated them from sexist oppression nor allowed them to gain any measure of economic independence…While it does not in any way diminish the importance of women resisting sexist oppression by entering the labor force, work has not been a liberating force for masses of American women. And for some time now, sexism has not prevented them from being in the work force(…)
(…) They found that white women had appropriated feminism to advance their own cause i.e. their desire to enter the mainstream of American capitalism. They were told that white women were in the majority and that they had the power to decide which issues would be considered “feminist’ issues.
That feminist issues are being dictated by mainstream feminists is still the case, even though Bell Hooks wrote her book in 1981. And that masses of women and men still find their jobs dull, oppressive, frustrating and alienating (S. Terkel,from Working) shows that true liberation has to start somewhere else.