Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Notes on movement

bell hooks, via Anarcho-feminist:

A collective door-to-door effort to spread the message of feminism is needed for the movement to begin anew, to start again with the basic premise that feminist politics is necessarily radical. And since that which is radical is often pushed underground in our setting then we must do everything we can to bring feminism above ground to spread the word. Because feminism is a movement to end sexism and sexist domination and oppression, a struggle that includes efforts to end gender discrimination and create equality, it is fundamentally a radical movement.

If feminism as a movement is going to advance in step with all women, whatever exclusionary tendencies exist shouldn't be accepted as feminist. A solidarity with women will embrace the concerns of women, whatever they may be. Middle-class concerns aren't illegitimate insofar as they can be reconciled with the needs of poor people, for example. Only in the event of an irreconcilable conflict should we ever have to "choose" between competing advocacies for women, and justification for it should be shown.

Because I believe it is important to articulate what is persuasive about feminism with as little a priori baggage as possible, I don't take from hooks the idea that feminists should present themselves to society as radicals. "Radicalism" usually begins with limited appeal amongst parts of the left, and too often concludes by becoming more insulated from society than engaged with it. I believe she is saying: the content will be radical, as compared with that content which presently prevails. But the point is, we have to engage society, and to do that effectively we have to communicate in ways that announce our similarities, not catalog our differences.

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