"People who go about seeking to change the world, to diminish suffering, to demonstrate any kind of enlightenment, are often as flawed as anybody else. Sometimes more so. But it is the awareness of having faults, I think, and the knowledge that this links us to everyone on Earth, that opens us to courage and compassion. It occurs to me often that many of those I deeply love are flawed. They might actually have said or done some of the mean things I’ve felt, heard, read about, or feared. But it is their struggle with the flaw, surprisingly endearing, and the going on anyhow, that is part of what I cherish in them." Alice Walker

11 January 2012

Feminism for everybody: Book 1 of 52 for 2012

It's 2012 and it's the Australian National Year of Reading (#NYR12). Inspired by Ms Anita Heiss, I am taking on a personal reading challenge - reading 1 book per week for the year 2012 (#52books).

MsA & I are reading a book per week! This is us on Saturday morning with our vegemite toast & black tea.
I think it will be quite a challenge for me, not because I find reading problematic, but because I read alot of stuff online, and in order to read a book, I have to be offline (even reading an ebook means I have to just read the book and not be tempted by the hyperlink (confession: I have an addiction to the hyperlink [you just never know where it will take you!])

Anyway, I've finished my first book!!!

It was called Feminism is for everybody by bell hooks. And it was/is fantastic! I thoroughly recommend it.

My biggest takeaways from this book -

  • There have been generations of women who now reap the benefits of feminism without having gone through the necessary anti-patriarchy/anti-sexism work to fully understand anti-sexist beliefs. Hence, why some women treat women worse than some men do (especially women who have class privilege)
  • While I'm essentially pro-choice I've always struggle with being outspoken about abortion. hooks argues that it's okay to not have an abortion yourself (or even contemplate it), but supporting the right of women to have them if they need them is a must. She further argues that pro-life (anti-abortion) is essentially anti-feminist. It's anti-feminist because feminism is about working to overcome oppression of ALL women. The first women to be oppressed by an anti-abortion community are women who have little access to good healthcare. She argues that it's a betrayal by women of privilege (normally White middle-class, educated, financially supported and/or financially independent women) to all other women, to support an anti-abortion community. She also argues, and this is an important point particularly for women who struggle to accept abortion, is that we must focus on doing more work around overall reproductive rights of all women, and abortion is only one part of that much larger issue. This is a timely insight given the debate this week over the interwebz about Melinda Tankard-Reist's profile in a southern weekend paper and her declaration as a pro-life (ie. anti-abortion) feminist).
  • I love how bell hooks uses feminist movement as a verb (I think??) rather than a noun. I thought there book at typos when I first started reading it cause it wasnt "The feminist movement", but she'd use sentences like:
The wrongminded notion of feminist movement which implied it was anti-male carried with it the wrongminded assumption where patriarchy and sexist thinking necessarily be an environemnt where patriarchy and sexist thinking would be absent.
See how she uses feminist movement? It's like it's something that isn't set in time (ie. the 1960s or the 1970s) but is ongoing and continuous and never-ending.
  • Feminism is for everybody doesn't go easy on women or even come down hard on men. It's a challenge for us to name, talk about and discuss sexism and the impact of patriarchal power on both women and men. Her book is a plea to keep the conversation going.
There is so much good stuff in this book that I'm just going to have to buy a few copies and give them to all my children.

PS: Thanks to Sandra for lending me the book. Loved it!

NB: Disclosure - I've added this book to my Fishpond affiliate list.

Next book: I'm going to cheat and read a book that I need to read for work. It's called Before the Aeroplane Dance. It's going to be tough going as I have so much on this week. Onward.....

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