1-Sentence-Summary: Hood Feminism explores the idea that traditional feminism only seeks to improve life for white women and not all women, arguing that true equality and inclusivity means seeking to lift all women, including those of color.
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Favorite quote from the author:
Would you agree that feminism isn’t actually feminism until it represents all women? Many people involved in women’s rights fail to see that marginalized women need access to basic health care or food, more than birth control or organic foods.
In Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women that a Movement Forgot, author Mikki Kendall explores how feminism has really only ever been about helping privileged women. It’s about time that we open a chapter on a new kind of feminism that helps the most disadvantaged members of society who need the most help.
Kendall gives a new voice to the women that feminism has long forgotten about. She says that we need to broaden the horizon of feminist causes to include everything from alleviating poverty to ensuring every woman’s right to vote. After all, it isn’t really true feminism unless it stands for all women.
Here are just 3 of the many useful and eye-opening lessons I got from this book:
- There are many issues that feminists and progressives fail to understand.
- White feminists can depend on law enforcement, while women of color cannot always count on them.
- If you really want to help, don’t just be an ally to these women, try to be an accomplice for them.
Here we go!
Lesson 1: Mainstream feminists and progressives often overlook the disadvantaged when fighting for policies.
Kendall learned a lot about feminism from her grandmother, who didn’t consider herself a feminist. Why? Because as a woman of color, she felt that feminism really was only looking out for white women.
For example, it was her grandmother who worked to care for the children and homes of the feminists who joined the workforce. Domestic work like she did was poorly paid and rarely acknowledged by feminists.
Some of the main issues of feminism completely forget black women such as Kendall’s grandmother. For example, birth control was a top priority for feminists while women of color struggled to even have access to good education or basic healthcare. Who was fighting for them? Kendall believes that the problem lies in the fact that most feminists just don’t understand what it’s like to be disadvantaged.
There are 42 million Americans who suffer hunger on a regular basis, and of those, 70 percent are women and children. Experiencing hunger and poverty affects you for life, yet feminists tend to overlook this suffering almost entirely.
When it comes to housing, women of color often lose out to white women also. This is because white women are less able to compete with white men in the housing market, so they are forced to move to less desirable areas, which contributes to their gentrification. This process displaces people of color, showing that what’s good for white women isn’t necessarily good for women of color.
The wealth gap puts women at a much higher risk of eviction or homelessness. This affects their entire family. But yet, feminism seems to gloss over this whole issue. These women aren’t worried about shopping for organic food—- they’re worried about feeding their family. These women deserve much more support from the feminists who are supposedly there to support women.
Lesson 2: White women are reassured by the criminal justice system, while people of color can’t count on it.
If I asked you how we can address sexual or gendered violence, what would you say? White women usually would count on law enforcement to address these issues. They would assume that the perpetrator would be taken away by police and be punished, while the victim receives justice. This is known as carceral feminism.
Does it work this smoothly? The reality for many people is that involving law enforcement can actually make matters worse. This is especially true for minority women.
Even in the best-case scenario where the perpetrator is actually locked up, often a woman is left with no income. Sometimes these survivors of abuse aren’t able to go to work right away, but the welfare system doesn’t recognize this. So now these women face poverty.
In some cases, a woman who fights back might face prosecution herself. In the case of trans woman CeCe McDonald, she suffered an attack from an abuser with a glass to the face. When she was able to run away, her abuser caught up to her, so CeCe stabbed him in self-defense. McDonald was later imprisoned for second-degree manslaughter.
That’s if you survive. The statistics on murders and disappearances are also tragic. While black women comprise 13 percent of the population, they account for 34 percent of missing person cases. To make matters worse, these cases tend to receive less media attention.
The numbers are even worse for indigenous women. The Urban Indian Institute found that 5,712 indigenous women were reported missing in 2016 but only a mere 116 were logged by the Department of Justice. In some regions, the murder rate for indigenous women can be ten times higher than the US average.
This all goes to show carceral feminism isn’t protecting everyone equally.
Lesson 3: It isn’t enough just to be an ally to marginalized women, you should be an accomplice.
It’s understandable that the people that face issues like this would be angry. Imagine how you would feel if your water was dangerous to drink or the police killed your child. This anger can be used for good, but the problem is that it gets bad press, particularly if Black women are angry.
The truth is that sometimes anger is the only effective way to change things. Rather than considering yourself an ally to marginalized women, if you want real change, it’s time to act as an accomplice.
Accomplice feminists aren’t just about words— they are about action. They want to challenge white supremacy whenever they see it. They also stand up for marginalized communities even if it doesn’t benefit them in any way.
It’s not easy. Especially if the issue doesn’t directly affect you. Sometimes when you think you’re being an ally you can be blind to your own biases. It’s also easy to confuse allyship with saviorism. This is essentially when white privileged people come in to save the day and drown out minority voices.
What we really need to do is reevaluate and change feminism. So much of it is inaccessible to the women working long hours in low-paying jobs to support their families. But their work is what has allowed wealthy privileged women to accomplish much of what they have. Shouldn’t they be considered too?
Hood Feminism Review
Hood Feminism takes an important dive into a side of equality that most people don’t think about. We need to tackle these issues if we want a chance at solving them, and I’m glad this book brought these up. Hopefully, by looking at some of the pitfalls of progressive ideas, we can actually start to help those who suffer the most.
Who would I recommend the Hood Feminism summary to?
The 24-year-old who considers herself a feminist but doesn’t realize there are aspects of it she may be missing, the 53-year-old woman of color who wants others like her to not have to suffer so much, and anyone that wants to see a new but critical side of equality.