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McGill University
PHIL 242
Zoli Filotas

PHIL 242 - “Black Women: Shaping Feminist Theory” - Bell Hooks Important Moments in the History ofAmerican Feminism (up to 1984) - Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) raises political questions about housework, childcare, and other stereotypically feminine things. - Consciousness raising groups arise in New York and throughout the country. - Institution of women’s studies programs inAmerican universities (first accredited women’s studies course at Cornell in 1969). - Appearance and rise of feminist celebrities: Gloria Steinem, etc. - Many feminists in the 1980s saw this as clear, unambiguous progress. - hooks argues that the story is much much more mixed, and suggests a different way to think about the goals of feminism. “ALL WOMEN ARE OPPRESSED,” “SUFFERING CANNOT BE MEASURED” - Considers these definitions against a simple definition of oppression: “Being oppressed means the absence of choices.” - the less amount of choices leads to more oppression - ...complex definitions of oppression are useful for some purposes, but this simple one is useful for others: it allows us - (i) to “set political priorities.” - (ii) to recognize differences between the situations of a variety of women - (iii) and ultimately to understand the relationship between sexist oppression and other forms of oppression—racial, economic, etc. OPPRESSION DOES NOTAFFECTALLWOMEN THE SAME WAY - Compare the “women who are most victimized by sexist oppression; women who are daily beaten down, mentally, physically, and spiritually – women who are powerless to change their condition in life.” - ...with the women who led the feminist movement: “It was a mark of race and class privilege, as well as the expression of freedom from many of the constraints sexism places on working- class women, that middle-class white women were able to make their interests the primary focus of the feminist movement... Who was there to demand a change of vocabulary? What other group of women in the United States had the same access to universities, publishing houses, mass media, money?” - the people who were most victimized by sexist oppression were not the ones who led the feminist movement - essentially non-white women were the most oppressed, yet it was the middle class white women who led the movement INTERSECTIONALITY - You can’t understand the way gender touches people’s lives without understanding how its effect is shaped by the ways race also touches th
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