Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

Week 5: All That Is Known and Unknown

40 Books in 40 Weeks: I'm reading one book from my to-read shelf per week through the end of the year. Afterward, I write a post here: not a review, just a reaction to something or many things in the book. It's keeping me accountable.

feminism is for everybody, by bell hooks
South End Press, 2000

Whoa. I needed this book.

I need this book.

Everyone needs this book.

Like. If you'd asked me if I'm a feminist before, I'd always say "sure", but apparently that was never part of my identity. It should be an integral part. I need to be an active feminist.

Yeah, I'm young, fine, I was born in the late 80s, but I thought I pretty much understood that, "way back when", women started wearing pants and eschewing bras if they wanted to, but I never understood just how much work other women had done on my behalf. How hard they fought. How easily all of this could be taken away. Reproductive rights -- we're still fighting for that. Equal pay -- we're still fighting for that. So how much of what women today enjoy as givens, what we take for granted, might vanish in a poof of conservative patriarchal whimsy?

But at the same time, here's something else I never understood: White Feminism. (Yes, capital W, capital F.) Everything that I've been conditioned to see as the goals of feminism, what we've already accomplished . . . most of that has been for the benefit of white upper-middle class women. Getting into the workforce? Most women in poverty, most women of color, they'd already been in the workforce in the 30s/40s/50s/60s. They'd love to have the freedom and financial flexibility to stay home with their kids. Why did I never consider this before.

And how there's a huge difference in being able to exist and succeed within the current white patriarchal society as a white woman -- being able to succeed in the way that white men have defined -- and completely redefining and restructuring society to be feminist. Friendly to everyone, conducive to everyone's success, whether male or female or both or neither or otherwise.

OK. There's a lot more for me to learn, and a lot more I've already absorbed in the last few years. Here are some other interesting links to consider (which have been helping me a little, so maybe other people will find them helpful, too):

And finally, if I haven't made this clear enough: for anyone who's never read this book before, GO READ THIS BOOK. Go find out who bell hooks is. Go understand why there's so much more to learn.

Next up: Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver