Bell Hooks- 1997
Author of more than 30 books, distinguished professor, leader of feminist movement and social activist
Building a New Tradition
By Abbey Rosenblatt
Gloria Jean Watkins, also known as bell hooks, was born on September 25, 1952. She grew up in Kentucky and has had many accomplishments, set many good examples, and speaks from the heart about her life. She has spent her life aiming to change racism and sexism. One reason this author is important to us today is her message in Ain’t I a Woman. This book illustrates that injustices in the past are still happening today. She aimed for change and wanted the world to see that you should not be judged based on your race or sex, or even put in a position with less power.
Hooks wanted to portray men and women being shown as unequal when it came to power and strength. She wanted the readers to see that trying to protect yourself was all based on someone’s race or sex. In Ain’t I a Woman, she states, “Teaching women how to defend themselves against male rapists is not the same as working to change society so that men will not rape.” She is trying to teach women and young girls how to protect themselves from the dangers of men in this world was not the only thing one could do to make change. Hooks wants people to see the world in a different way. Hooks showed that not only do women have to stand up for themselves and protect against the evil in this world, but also society has to change in order for men to not rape and to show respect toward every sex or race out there.
As hooks explains, Black women deal with racism and a false sense of power. Hooks states that “Without a doubt, the false sense of power black women is encouraged to feel allows us to think that we are not in need of social movements like a women’s movement that would liberate us from sexist oppression. The sad irony is of course that black women are often most victimized by the very sexism we refuse to collectively identify as an oppressive force.” Black women wanted to feel part of the society as well, and without that help of movements or false power they felt pushed to the side in a sense. Women have always been seen as the ones to be at home dealing with their children, cooking, cleaning, etc. She showed that no matter your sex or race, you could achieve whatever you wanted. It is hard for society to see that women and men are equal. But it has gotten a lot better through movements and those speaking up for what is right.
Hooks wanted to change people’s attitudes toward race and gender. In The Will to Change, hooks says, “Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men.” She encourages men to express their emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are -- whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation (hooks). Hooks talked about men and women, but especially men, needing to show their love towards others. She wanted it to be known that showing emotions doesn’t make men less masculine or weaker towards others. Hooks also says, “If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” I read that for the first time and had to read it again. It sends a very strong message about women empowerment. Personally, I love this quote and it helps me get a better understanding of her message. It is very important to be by yourself sometimes, and always know that you do not need anyone but yourself. You can always have someone or need someone, but at the end of the day all you have is yourself and that is something that is important to remember.
In conclusion, Bell Hooks made herself a role model to many people in the world. She set out on a mission for change. She felt that change was needed in areas like racism, sexism, and feminism. Women have always come across to society as “objects” or the sex to not be respected. Everyone should have equal power and should be able to feel safe and able to protect themselves against anything. Not just being weak because of the society/world saying you are. Hooks did just that and paved a new way in history. Making movements for those to feel stronger and have more power where power was needed and spoke up for what was right.
Bereola, A. (2017, December 13). Tough love with bell hooks. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.shondaland.com/inspire/books/a14418770/tough-love-with-bell-hooks/
Hooks, Bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Routledge, 2017.
Lee, Min Jin. “In Praise of Bell Hooks.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Feb. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/books/bell-hooks-min-jin-lee-aint-i-a-woman.html.
The essential bell hooks. (n.d.). Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.writingonglass.com/bell-hooks