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I Considered Myself A Bad Feminist Until I Read 'Hood Feminism'

xoNecole's I Read It So You Don't Have To is a recurring series of self-discovery that breaks down self-help books into a toolkit of takeaways and tips that are meant to assist you in finding the best life you can live. Take what works for you, and leave everything else where it is.

I considered myself a bad feminist until I read Mikki Kendall's Hood Feminism. This is mostly due to the perception of what mainstream feminism characterized itself as. For example, January 2017 comes to mind when I think of feminism. I consider the time when 4.6 million women—the majority of whom were white—demonstrated around the United States in favor of gender parity and the difficulties we would unavoidably encounter under the newly elected Donald Trump. I remember the placards insisting that people should never "grab their pussies." The banners complaining that "we" only get paid 75 cents for every man's dollar, and the shouts demanding equal pay, despite this being the least of our problems.


Yes, I give its superficiality a lot of thought.

While many lamented that women only earn 75 cents for every dollar earned by white males, I considered the reality that Latina, Indigenous, and Black women make even less. I considered all the significant concerns that were overlooked since white feminist issues constituted a huge portion of the feminist vision. However, I was unaware of the degree and rationale behind this contempt until I read Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot.

Book-review-Hood-Feminism 'Hood Feminism' by Mikki Kendallwww.shopatmatter.com

Hood Feminism introduced me to the several reasons why I believe my feminist credentials were inadequate. It gave me insight into the various areas that feminism should concentrate on to achieve success in my lifetime and that of my potential children. It taught me how to be a feminist in ways I've always wanted to be. This book covers all the issues and arguments that feminists should be paying attention to, to ensure that feminism is more than just a term. It isn't necessarily a call to action, but it is a playbook of how to create feminist movements that hold the ideals of all individuals involved.

To be an effective feminist, we must emphasize Hood Feminism, and Kendall provides us with a number of strategies to help us do just that.

"Solidarity" Is for White Women

"We can't afford to wait for equality to trickle down eventually."

The Problem: The feminist agenda has prioritized narrowing the pay gap as the top feminist concern. While the salary gap is undoubtedly a problem that has to be addressed, the feminist movement's decision to make it a central issue is the ideal illustration of the trickle-down method and how solidarity is truly for white women. The idea behind the trickle-down approach is that if all women band together to address the problems facing the majority, like equal pay, then they would be able to assist minority groups in fulfilling their objectives. In essence, we should scratch their backs before they scratch ours.

Nevertheless, this idea functions only proficiently in theory. Particularly when minority concerns like food poverty, child care, and gun violence demand more urgent attention and action, while some legal processes—like equal pay—take years to resolve. The mainstream media makes us believe that solidarity means forgetting that other problems need to be addressed first.

With the clear difference between abstract ideals and very real lives, there isn't a possible way all women can stand united, when fighting one issue worsens the survivability of another.

How It Can Be Solved: It is obvious how to handle this problem: take care of the larger problems first, and the smaller ones will be taken care of afterward. Work on bigger concerns like child care services, gun violence, and food poverty, which impact all women regardless of race, rather than the wage gap, when the majority of women barely even make the alleged 75 cents to a white man's dollar.

Hunger

The Problem: Two other feminism-related concerns that must be at the forefront of the movement are affordable housing and food poverty. Families' capacity to make ends meet is rarely given much concern, despite the fact that women have access to food stamps and public housing, among other government support programs. Hunger disproportionately affects women, with food insecurity being more common in families headed by single women than in those headed by married couples or single men.

Even worse, women make up 60% of the lowest-paid workers in the nation despite making up almost half of the workforce. In addition to all of this, the majority of their income is allocated to housing and child care, which leaves very little money for household maintenance and much less for food purchases, particularly in light of the ongoing inflation. Everything is simply unaffordable.

How It Can Be Solved: Call for lawmakers to be held responsible and to boost federal nutrition programs via practical measures. Nearly two-thirds of adult and senior participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are female, yet the program offers very few advantages. The monies allotted to each household hardly even cover the costs of keeping the mother and kids fed. Increasing the monthly SNAP payment should be a top goal for policymakers in order to help more women become food secure and escape poverty.

Then, one may mention the pay disparity. Even though they make up the majority of workers, women still earn a lot less than males. As a result, women head homes that spend a larger percentage of their income on costs than men. Enforcing lawmakers to reduce the pay disparity may lead to more accessible housing and a decrease in food insecurity.

"Fast Girls" and the Festishization of Fierce

The Problem: Black women must mature more quickly than other girls. This is either due to expectations—where society stops viewing young black girls as girls around puberty—or needs—like needing to raise siblings or take care of oneself before one should. In any case, the perception that young Black girls are "fast" prevents them from being recognized for what they actually are: children. Given the battle being waged against Black girls, this adultification bias misses the fact that black girls need to learn how to fight, escape, and protect themselves at a very young age.

Black girls become strong women as a result of this instant adultification, and they are typically portrayed as "fierce" for conquering their surroundings. Sadly, this simply makes matters worse because Black women are increasingly viewed as self-sufficient and capable of defending themselves. They can preserve themselves because they are powerful. Because it is assumed that Black women can and will continue to help themselves, violence is inflicted upon them more frequently and major difficulties are disregarded.

How It Can Be Solved: Regard Black women as simply put, women—not "strong," nor "fierce." Regard them as people who deserve to be taken care of, fed, shielded, and given consideration. Black women and other minority groups need to be supported and encouraged when they seek help; instead of it being assumed they are capable of taking care of themselves.

Gun Violence 

"The bullets that didn't hit me, still changed me."

The Problem: It is difficult to go five yards in predominately Black communities, where poverty meets life, without someone bringing up the topic of how unsafe the neighborhood is due to gun violence. Nevertheless, the same could apply to anyone who chooses to enter a public space in America, such as grocery stores, malls, hospitals, or schools. For the unfortunate, unforeseeable future, America and gun violence are synonymous. However, this truth is disregarded or publicized as a racial issue because it is only thought to exist in the context of poverty and Blackness. Never mind the sad truth, that women are the main victims of gun violence, due to domestic violence, mass shootings, and gang violence.

How It Can Be Solved: Gun violence must be seen by feminists as a feminist issue as much as a "Black issue." Guns are a leading cause of death for children in the United States; when they don't kill them, they terrorize them instead.

Race, Poverty, and Politics

The Problem: Always the savior, never the saved. Ironically, Black women are frequently viewed as the Democratic party's saviors. Black women voted 94% for Hilary in 2016, 96% for Obama in 2012, and 93% for Biden in 2020. Therefore, Democrats appeal to Black women if they want to win. However, Black women and their promised policies are frequently overlooked while legislation is being produced. Rather, the laws that are always remembered have to do with restricting Black women's rights and limited authority.

The majority of them lead to gerrymandering, such as that which is occurring in Alabama, or the development of laws that further downplay the hardships faced by Black women, such as poverty. Even worse, the policies that are being imposed are the result of white women's votes, who hurried to support the undermining of the laws that granted them the same liberties.

How It Can Be Solved: It is imperative that white feminists recognize the ways in which racism affects elections and the growing disparity in voting rights and access. Furthermore, Black women must recognize and resist ongoing limitations on our right to vote as well as the rights of other groups whose voting rights have been curtailed, such as those of those incarcerated. Racism is being utilized to deny our voices a platform and make our votes insignificant, and we can no longer afford to ignore this. This includes combating policies that undermine the right to vote, or even the right to vote easily, and making protecting voting rights a priority.

To understand other various ways you can use Hood Feminism to combat other feminist issues, such as education, housing, parenting while Black, the reigning patriarchy, reproductive justice, allies, and more, give Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall a read or listen.

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Featured image by Drazen_/Getty Images

 

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