Masses of women feel angry because they were encouraged by feminist thinking to believe they would find liberation in the workforce. Mostly they have found that they work long hours at home and long hours at the job. Even before feminist movement encouraged women to feel positive about working outside the home, the needs of a depressed economy were already sanctioning this shift. If contemporary feminist movement had never taken place masses of women would still have entered the workforce, but it is unlikely that we would have the rights we have, had feminists not challenged gender discrimination. Women are wrong to “blame” feminism for making it so they have to work, which is what many women think. The truth remains that consumer capitalism was the force leading more women into the workforce. Given the depressed economy white middle-class families would be unable to sustain their class status and their lifestyles if women who had once dreamed solely of working as housewives had not chosen to work outside the home.
Here hooks offers an account of liberal feminism, in which women's rights are pronounced to be "equal" to men's.
Two problems arise from the liberal formula. One is that women aren't the same as men; for example, men don't require any "rights" relating to pregnancy. For a woman to have the same rights as a man, in this regard, is not to have any rights at all: such rights aren't relevant for men. Women are subsequently penalized in the workplace for being people who carry and deliver children, because men are the employees that don't.
The second problem in asserting "equal rights" with men is that men themselves don't enjoy equal rights! If being dependent on a husband for her economic security was the plight of the domestic housewife, being dependent on an employer for his economic security has been the plight of most men. As hooks suggests, liberal values are those values arising out of the direct subordination of human beings to capital, taking for granted its "progressive" effects. It is little wonder that US women are angry about its feminist pretensions.
Feminism might be better defined simply as "independence for women," not "equality with men." Independence for women implies a personal right to economic security as the basis for free association with others, rather than limiting itself only to that which is deemed suitable for men.
See also ladypoverty