40 pages 1 hour read

bell hooks

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1984

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Chapters 6-8Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 6 Summary: “changing perspectives on power”

hooks cites that current ideologies surrounding power emphasize “domination and control over people or things” (84). In her 1970 book Woman Power, Black feminist theorist Cellestine emphasizes that power can be exerted to end domination, and radical feminist groups adopted this definition. However, hooks notes that this attempt to redefine power has been largely unsuccessful because of conflicting opinions on the importance of class and politics within the wider feminist movement. Some feminists, notably white, bourgeois women, believe that women will gain power after attaining money and class privilege, which hooks says validates existing power systems and sexist oppression. Other women believe in innate sexual differences—that men and women are fundamentally different in behavior and values and women would therefore not use their power to oppress others—but hooks stresses that this idea is false. She asserts that the feminist movement has not considered how power would be wielded any differently and that by operating within an oppressor/oppressed paradigm, they would likely exert power exactly as men have. Indeed, many women with class or race privilege already exert power over marginalized people.

With this, hooks asserts that women “would organize [society] differently only if they had a different value system” (87).