January HC Book Club Review: Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Growing up is realising that the spotlight upon mainstream feminism actually illuminates the many ways in which traditional feminism is lacking and fails to address the needs of all women. It’s no secret that the movement too often focuses on the rights of privileged individuals, with little consideration for marginalised communities and what can be done to confront the inequalities that still exist. In fact, when thinking about feminism, our minds are quick to consider subjects such as equal pay, tampon tax, and the suffragette movement, and of course these topics play an undeniably significant part in shaping what feminism stands for, but what Kendall does so effectively by writing from an American perspective, and one that centres on life as a black woman, is offer a refreshing angle on intersectional feminism. Ultimately, this collection of essays gives a voice back to those whose everyday struggles have carelessly been swept under the carpet for far too long.

 

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, written by Mikki Kendall, is a great resource that calls for us to consider women outside of our immediate circle, while touching on issues that have previously not been considered feminist, but intrinsically are. Kendall uncovers unsettling truths, using both anecdotes and historical facts and studies to shine a light on the exclusivity of women who are disabled, black or POC, those within the queer community or who are femme-presenting, and those who identify as trans or non-binary. This book provides an honest account of how modern day feminism is fundamentally failing those it claims to support, exploiting a sheer amount of ignorance while encouraging self-reflection. 

 

The members of Her Campus Aberdeen’s book club had a lot to say about this month's pick. We thought that the book makes for essential reading, and serves as a great resource for white feminists specifically to better educate themselves on becoming good allies. While Hood Feminism is not necessarily an easy or light read, collectively we agreed that it remains accessible to those who have a pre-existing foundation of knowledge regarding feminism and are eager to learn more. The group noted how relevant the book is to recent events that have occurred in the US, and felt that it is perhaps more important now than ever to be actively trying to educate ourselves on such topics. Although it felt a little repetitive at times and there was sometimes little distinction between white women in general and white feminists, our book club thoroughly enjoyed this month’s read. Here are a few thoughts;

 

 

Iona 

 

  • It makes you consider topics such as gun laws as being feminist issues.
  • Important to have a basic understanding of feminism beforehand so it becomes easier to make the leap to more complex social issues that are being addressed.
  • It shows us how for every feminist progression white women have made, people of colour have suffered consequences as a result.
  • The issues discussed are intricate but Kendall doesn’t explain them in a way that lessens the complexity.
  • Personal stories are interesting but sometimes they derail from the initial point.

 

Carlyn 

 

  • This isn’t the right book to change someone’s political views; the reader must be willing to learn and educate themselves, as well as have a pre-existing foundation of knowledge on the subject.
  • White feminists need to take accountability, not necessarily individually, but we must still recognise that white supremacy enables us privilege.
  • POC are immediately associated with traits such as strength which is so ingrained into society that we don’t really question it.
  • Found that there were several references to events that have happened but it was assumed that readers knew the full context to understand their relevance.

 

Kate

 

  • It plays a part in how we empathise. For example, growing up and hating or disassociating from the colour pink reflects other issues faced by people of colour.
  • Recognises how we boycott the space of those whose voices are not heard. This behaviour can also be found in other movements such as the body positivity movement whereby it gradually becomes taken over by people with bodies that have always been accepted within society. 
  • Generalising groups of people - expressing anger and frustration with white feminists but also white people. 

 

Megan

 

  • I agree with the others that some points are a little unclear, most likely because of there being a lack of distinction between the terms being used.
  • The purpose of the book is not to shame but to educate, and so naturally it made me more aware of my own ignorance as a white female.
  • Feminism can’t just be about focusing on improving things that only benefit a small subset of women, and for that reason this book becomes an urgently necessary read. It is a much needed addition to feminist discourse.