Feminists are made, not born. One does not become an advocate of feminist politics simply by having the privilege of having been born female. Like all political positions one becomes a believer in feminist politics through choice and action. When women first organized in groups to talk together about the issue of sexism and male domination, they were clear that females were socialized to believe sexist thinking and values as males, the difference being simply that males benefited from sexism more than females and were as a consequence less likely to want to surrender patriarchal privilege. Before women could change patriarchy we had to change ourselves; we had to raise our consciousness.
bell hooks, Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics, p. 7
Romantic love as most people understand it in patriarchal culture makes one unaware, renders one powerless and out of control. Feminist thinkers called attention to the way this notion of love served the interests of patriarchal men and women. It supported the notion that one could do anything in the name of love: beat people, restrict their movement, even kill them and call it a “crime of passion,” plead, “I loved her so much I had to kill her.” Love in patriarchal culture was linked to notions of possession, to paradigms of domination and submission wherein it was assumed one person would give love and another person receive it.
bell hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
We do know that patriarchal masculinity encourages men to be pathologically narcissistic, infantile, and psychologically dependent on the privileges (however relative) that they receive simply for having been born male. Many men feel that their lives are being threatened if these privileges are taken away, as they have structured no meaningful core identity.
Despite popular belief, feminism is not anti-masculism. Feminism is about making men AND women equal. Sexism affects all genders, so the people who attack masculism are NOT feminists. So please, stop accusing feminism of being a hate movement.
Tragically we are witnessing a resurgence of harmful misogynist assumptions that mothers cannot raise healthy sons, that boys ‘benefit’ from patriarchal militaristic notions of masculinity which emphasize discipline and obedience to authority. Boys need healthy self esteem. They need love. And a wise and loving feminist politics can provide the only foundation to save the lives of male children. Patriarchy will not heal them. If that were so they would all be well.
All white women in this nation know that their status is different from that of black women/women of color… . All white women in this nation know that whiteness is a privileged category. The fact that white females may choose to repress or deny this knowledge does not mean they are ignorant: it means that they are in denial.
bell hooks, “Race and Gender” from Feminism Is For Everybody (55)
Feminism is anti-sexism. A male who has divested of male privilege, who has embraced feminist politics, is a worthy comrade in struggle, in no way a threat to feminism, whereas a female who remains wedded to sexist thinking and behavior infiltrating feminist movement is a dangerous threat. Significantly, the most powerful intervention made by consciousness-raising groups was the demand that all females confront their internalized sexism, their allegiance to patriarchal thinking and action, and their commitment to feminist conversion. That intervention is still needed. It remains the necessary step for anyone choosing feminist politics. The enemy within must be transformed before we can confront the enemy outside. The threat, the enemy, is sexist thought and behavior. As long as females take up the banner of feminist politics without addressing and transforming their own sexism, ultimately the movement will be undermined.
bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody
just going to emphasize that last sentence again: As long as females take up the banner of feminist politics without addressing and transforming their own sexism, ultimately the movement will be undermined.
Males as a group have and do benefit the most from patriarchy, from the assumption that they are superior to females and should rule over us. But those benefits have come with a price. In return for all the goodies men receive from patriarchy, they are required to dominate women, to exploit and oppress us, using violence if they must to keep patriarchy intact. Most men find it difficult to be patriarchs. Most men are disturbed by hatred and fear of women, by male violence against women, even the men who perpetuate this violence. But they fear letting go of the benefits. They are not certain what will happen to the world they know mos t intimately i f patriarchy changes. So they find it easier to passively support male domination even when they know in their minds and hearts that it is wrong.