Channing Bachman

Channing Bachman
English 1A
Essay Draft
Bell Hooks and Virginia Woolf are two well known English writers recognized
with their discussion towards the oppression of women, although both of women have
different conclusions. Hooks has a very powerful ideal about how feminism should be
and because of this, Hooks and Woolf has very different mindset on the oppression of
women. Hooks believes that feminism should not only be just about equality for women,
but equality for all social oppression, while Virginia Woolf has more of the mindset of a
common feminist just to have equality with men, and because of this, many of their ideas
appear to conflict with each other.
Bell Hook’s definition of feminism is very specific and very powerful for she
believes in that Feminism’s common definition of protesting against women’s oppression
is linked to all social oppression such as race and finance. By finance she believes
Capitalism is a big issue and many of the liberal feminist reforms simply support the
materialistic values. In “Feminist Ethics from a Marxist Perspective” the text states that
“Capitalism is capable of taking our visionary changes and using them against us.” An
example is given that many women have recognized their oppression and because of that
have divorced their husbands. In doing so, many of the divorced women have been forced
to do low paying jobs in which corporations would exploit them, by saying “If she
complains, she can be replaced.” Hooks had very criticizing thoughts about capitalism
and had a very Marxist-like ideal about how society should financially be. She believed
in Individualism in which everybody should be they’re own individual. The truth is that
even Individual African-Americans, Native American Indians and other race women
would be remote even had they supported the feminist movement. In Hooks text, she
states that “Many women are reluctant to advocate feminism because they are uncertain
about the meaning of the term.” This is because they do not wish to look apparent as
supporting any other movement that might be frowned upon, such as a racist movement.
This is because feminism is often perceived to be affiliated with white women only.
In Bell’s text, she states that most people “think of feminism or the more
commonly used term ‘women’s lib’ as a movement that aims to make women the social
equals of men.” (Dilks pg. 45) She believed that this raises difficult questions such as,
one in particular, that because men are not all equal such as in race, finance and class,
which of the men do they exactly want to be? She states that because of this, “Bourgeois
white women interested in women’s rights issues have been satisfied with simple
definition for obvious reasons. Rhetorically placing themselves in the same social
category as oppressed women, they were not anxious to call attention to race and class
privilege. Virginia Woolf fits into this category as a bourgeois white middle class woman.
Virginia Woolf wrote “A Room of One’s Own” in her university and states that she went
to the men’s university and compares the architecture and meals to the University of her
own. The men had beautiful buildings, delicious meals while at her University it was dull
and the food was plain, and because of Woolf’s string of consciousness writing structure,
it is easy to feel that she was feeling sorry for herself and the woman of her time. “One
cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. The lamp in the spine
does not light on beef and prunes.” This shows that she does wish that she wants her
University to be equal to the men’s University. Being so, this brings back Hooks
problematic question that what kind of men do these middle class women want to be
equal to because not all men are equal. This arguably shows that Woolf did want to be
equal but to those men of wealthy or middle class stature. Hooks states that women in
lower class and poor groups would not have the same definition as women gaining social
equality due to their social status. They knowing that the men in their social class are
oppressed, they would not call it liberty to share their social class.
After reading Women and the New World Hooks states that it is evident that
“many women active in feminist movement were interested in reform as an end in itself,
not as a stage in the progression towards revolutionary transformation.” Arguably
Virginia Woolf fits into this category in which reform would be the end in itself and
would be fair if by legislation that woman would be equal to men. There was no saying in
A Room of One’s Own that if by law women’s Universities were equal to the men’s
Universities, that there would still be a missing link that would lead to transformation or
the change of mentality of people and society as a whole, as what Hooks believed in.
Woolf had the mentality in which women in general were being oppressed by male
domination and that all women are they’re allies, and all men as being the oppressors.
Woolf gives an example of a fictional character representing Shakespeare’s sister, Judith,
who was just as brilliant and cunning in writing and acting as her brother Shakespeare.
She puts out a whole scenario of the difference between Shakespeare and Judith living
their lives and in the end for Judith, although wanting to and attempting to thrive as an
actor/writer, falls into the demise of men and male dominancy. She states many times in
her text of scenarios of women being beat, being forced to marry and how the husband
would be announced as lord and master. This is evident that Woolf has the mentality of
men in general are the oppressors. Hooks thought about transformation is that women did
not stop to think “stop to think that American women are just as reluctant as American
men to struggle for a new society based on new values of mutual respect, cooperation and
social responsibility.” (Women and the New World, p. 33)
Due to Bell Hooks definition of feminism being more than a rising upcoming for
women fighting for equal rights for men, it is very evident that compared with Virginia
Woolf’s writings, they differ pretty significantly. Although the two writers talk about
women being oppressed, Hooks has a whole new side to it where she talks about all
kind’s of oppression, and almost criticizing feminist who believe they can call themselves
a feminist if they do not believe in stopping any other kind of oppression.