COMPARISON BETWEEN JESSICA VALENTI AND BELL HOOKS
Even though these two writers have different writing styles, they share similar ideas on what feminism means. The definition of feminism Valenti gave was the one in dictionary: “[belief] in the social, political and economic equality of sexes” (Valenti 6). This broad definition goes with the title of her essay, “You’re a Hardcore Feminist I Swear”, as it tells the reader that he or she is a feminist and does not even know it. Valenti wants women not to be afraid of affirming their feminist views to the world. She takes time to vividly shred the image of stereotypical man-hating, ugly, fat, old feminist in order to show that anybody can be part of this social movement no matter how you look.
On her side, bell hooks defines feminism as a “movement to end sexism, sexual exploitation, and oppression” (hooks 12). She states that not only women can be the victim of sexism, but also men. She also touches the stereotype that feminists angry anti-male women and explains that it is not the case anymore, that there are different types of feminists, a bit like Valenti did. Even though the definitions of both authors are different, they express the same desire of living in a world where men and women can flourish hand in hand. However, as Valenti agrees that feminism is everywhere and people are starting to notice its presence; hooks believes that the feminist movement should reinvent itself because she thinks it has lost its meaning. She wants to reinvigorate the lost meaning of feminism in order to end gender inequality for good.
Feminism is important for these women because for them it is about justice. They feel that something is off, that there is a certain unfairness between the two sexes; they think the way men and women interact is not correct and that it needs to change. Both authors were touched by problems that feminism tries to solve. Valenti had experiences as a child, when her crush told her she had an ugly nose, an experience that made her see that there is an unfairness in the way women’s appearance is a thing that drives a lot of their life. hooks had personal problems in her teenage years as she was depressed and even suicidal. Feminism is what gave her hope for a better world; it gave meaning to her life. She saw the occasion to fight for equality and justice in her community as it was also victim of racism. She desires to see everyone no matter their race and their gender to live equally.
MY DEFINITION OF FEMINISM
Feminists have themselves different definitions of what is feminism; however, what they all desire is a certain justice between both sexes. They essentially demand that every individual is treated fairly no matter how they look like. I would say that my definition sounds like the one you find in Valenti’s dictionary: “[belief] in the social, political and economic equality of sexes” (Valenti 6). However, like hooks, I think feminist movement should change its approach. The feminism that we knew is less relevant today, because the differences between men and women are, at least in the Occident, harder to see. Men and women are equal, legally speaking; it is stated in the law that no one should suffer discrimination depending on its gender. Especially for men, it is harder to see were the inequalities are. Women have a different perspective and they could easily see what men have to look harder for. For a movement that proclaims to be about solve injustices between men and women, I don’t see a lot of men that call themselves feminists. For a movement that is meant to make the dynamics between men and women more just, I do not see a lot of men that call themselves feminists. Why is that? Feminism is indeed about everybody’s life better, so why don’t call themselves feminists. Is it because these men fear not being able to oppress the woman anymore? That is absurd. Perhaps, it could be that feminism should be portrayed differently to men. The major explanation of why men are not feminists yet is that most men are having a hard time understanding what is feminism really about. We should encourage sexes to often have discussions about what they think gender issues are, so that everybody can have a global perspective about social and gender inequality. Because in order to achieve equality between both sexes, we equally need men and women.
What made me stop in my reading was bell hooks closing statement is the closing statement of bell hooks, because she exactly pulled the words out of my mouth. I think, like her, that feminism is at a point where it should redefine itself in order to end gender inequality once and for all. Essential feminism possesses fundamental values that any individual with a minimal sense of morality also has, such as justice and equity. Like hooks, said we have the definitions, we just have to use them. As I mentioned previously, men have to be engaged in the fight for social equity as much as women do.