Review: Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
This book was a rollercoaster. One of the best ways to describe my experience reading Hood Feminism would be stressful. I went from extremes of wanting to clap at how many fantastic points were being made ;things I wholeheartedly agreed with. On the other side of things I also felt so frustrated at some of the chapters that I simply couldn't understand. Despite not being able to understand everything, I am so happy I read this book because although I didn't agree with everything that was said, I took a lot from this book and hope to action some memorable points going forward.
Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighbourhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
This book is certainly one that is needed and was missing from the now very saturated and popular market that discusses the newest wave of feminism. As a woman and a feminist, I love reading feminist nonfiction as it affirms everything I believe. How wonderful to read a whole book - cover to cover - and have another person basically say to you that all of those things that you rant on about to your friends and partners and whoever else will listen is all correct! We love to hear that we're right, and that what we believe in is worth believing in. This book will flip a lot of that on it's head. Inclusivity and intersectionality are important to making sure all feminists are heard and catered too. There are plenty of books that already exist that discuss sexual abuse, beauty standards, body positivity, the gender pay gap, confidence and liberation. This is the first one I've come across that covers topics such as gun violence and food security.
Some of the chapters were stronger than others. Kendall's points were often clearly backed up in some regards and totally absent in others. The validity of what made certain issues a feminist issue rather than a economic issue were lost on me. For example a white man with no money will have the same food insecurity as a black woman with no money as neither can afford to buy enough food to support themselves and their family in a supermarket. I wanted to understand how this wasn't the case but I felt like I was being told that food insecurity is a feminist issue, and it was never being explained.
Whilst I may not be able to connect to these issues, but that doesn't stop them from being important. In many ways, this is the challenge of this book when you're reading information that it new to you, and so far from your own reality. There is a consistent tone that can be hard to swallow - there are a lot of generalisations for white women, which can be draining to consistently read. However I expect that is somewhat the point: women of colour have had to be 'put in a box' for years, so it's not anything that you shouldn't be able to handle.
Some of the chapters were not unfamiliar, for example the stereotypes surrounding women of colour are incredibly damaging to the way they are treated by men and even other women. Black women being hypersexualised and having the continuous trope of being emotionally stronger and more capable than white women leads to them having less of a space and helpful response to coming forward regarding mental health issues. There are also sexual stereotypes surrounding latin women as being sassy and asian women as being submissive which are problematic in ways they are treating in all social interactions.
This book has some wonderful chapters that were very much needed to be added to the feminist discussion that is entirely non-inclusive - something that will hopefully start a snowball effect of this information becoming common knowledge. However, this book was not perfect. On too many occasions, points were being made that were not being backed up. But I am very thankful to this book for creating new questions to be asked, and giving me more topics to research. There is a new dialogue which has been long overdue.
Initial Prediction: 5 stars
Final Rating: 4.5 stars
Publication Date: 25 February 2020
# of Pages: 288