Ain’t I a Woman by bell hooks [Book Summary – Review]


It was named after “Ain’t I a Woman” after a speech in 1851 by Sojourner Truth who was a black women’s rights activist. Even if it was called after a nineteenth-century speech and announced in 1981, the operation of bell hooks is more connected today than ever before.

It was investigated how a compound of racism and sexism throughout history has left black women at the depths of the social pecking array by Hooks. Understanding how black women are crushed so much, theories have been introduced about how pressure can be overcome.

By white men, white women, black men, and black women, it was presented to this issue. Great news? Everyone has a role to perform in the solution. Even if you are not common with the problems circling race and gender, even if you are seeing for an entrance, the hooks are a great place to start with a comprehensive look at the problems faced by women of color.


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Chapter 1 – It was sexism that increased the pain of black women during slavery.


It is known by everyone that two people are not equal. We are complex and multidimensional people with different characters. Unfortunately, this does not indicate that gender patterns and judgments are still not available; the stereotypes, that were reflected on women, proceed throughout history.

In the nineteenth century, by white American men who saw all women as sexual harassment, it was begun to see them as pure, innocent, and virgin beings. However, for black women, this stereotype was not applied, who they still thought was confused. This behavior can be determined as the appearance date of the white colonists from Europe. While a social and political order in America was built, the foundations of racism and sexism were laid by them.

By the colonists, enslaved Africans were labeled as “sexual heathens”. While black women were seen as sexually immoral seducers, white women were recognized as pristine. According to white men, this groundless bias confirmed the violation of black women.

While black men were exposed to racism and exploitation, the supplementary sexual exploitation of black women got their experience much more frustrating and inhuman. In addition to being forced to operate in the area adjacent men, women were adopted like home slaves, novel slave breeding tools, and sexual assault objects.



This menace of sexual assault was used to terrorize black slave women like Linda Brent, who was slave, recalls. In her autobiography, she explains how her white master tortured her during her teenage years with rape threats and was insulted. By him, it was told to Linda that he had ownership and should be prone to “everything”. As a slave woman named Ann found, women who withstood these sexual developments from masters and supervisors were punished.

She is remembered by Ann, the man who was sold to whip her, and how she offered her calico clothes and earrings in exchange for her sexual appeal. Instead, she threw a bottle at him. As a result, Ann was sentenced to prison and daily whips. She was lucky that the man did not die from his attack or was tried and possibly punished to death. Unfortunately, as will be learned in the next section, stereotypes about this hard treatment and sexuality of black women have not been removed with slavery.


Chapter 2 – After the abolition, the fight continues by black women and regularly degraded in society.


When slavery was eventually lifted, you would examine black women’s lives would be greatly improved. However, this was not the situation. Black women discovered that they did not have the chance to enhance their social standing or struggle with their oppression. Their status as slaves may have changed, however the belief that black women are sexually confused and immoral proceeded to spread Rayford Logan who is the American spirit, as a black historian and activist found in his study.

Racist cartoons were studied by Logan in the Atlantic magazine in the 1890s. An article linked black women’s “chastity” to ignoring sexual purity. What evidence did the writer of the article ignore this sexual purity? Liberty of white men with black women. It wasn’t only journalists for the Atlantic who shared the opinion that black women invited white men to sexually assault. It was a conversation shared by the white community as a whole, affecting how black women were treated. For instance, this is apparent in the following statement from a young black woman emitted in 1912.

The woman was chosen as a chef for a white house, just to be calculated by her husband. The black woman’s husband went to face the white husband, however, when the white man requested the police, he was jailed and punished. The woman objected to her husband’s accusation, explaining that she had been raped. Nevertheless, by the judge, it was said the court was going to never accept the word of a black woman and a white man.



And harming black women was not just a cliché of sexual confusion. At the same time, the black woman had mythology as a matriarchal figure spread and empowered by the white community. Because of their weaker social status, black women worked tirelessly in low-paid service jobs to provide their families. They were male social scientists who marked the role of black women in labor and household areas, marking men as the heads of their kindergartens and homes.

By the writer, it was argued that this matriarchal tag is used by racist academics to brainwash black women. Finally, by black women, it is believed to have social and political power – economic security, reproductive rights, and political influence. In reality, they have none of these. While accepting their roles as mainstream women, they are accepted by black women by bowing to the white patriarchal system and demanding economic, sexist, and racist pressures.

Nevertheless, as said by the writer, “There was no matriarchy in the USA.”

In the next section, it will be learned how these patriarchal opinions entered the black society, generating pressure between black men and women, and will lead to fatal results by you.


Chapter 3 – In the patriarchal social array, severity, and hate between black men and women are maintained.


There is a lot to be answered by American colonists. The idea of ​​patriarchal society was put forward and the harm is still felt today. In patriarchy, men are said to play the role of breadman and household chief – this is a concept that black men and women are as accepted to as white men and women.

The major tension between black men and women has been the definition of gender roles in this way. By the writer, there are records of well-known black figures that advocate different gender roles – dating back to 1852. Consider black nationalist leader Martin Delaney. He added that although black men can enter jobs and women can become teachers, women should be interested in raising themselves.

Tensions have been increased due to the racism of white employers. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, by whites, the employment of males was denied. This meant that black women had to work in-home services to assist their families.

Under the white patriarchal structure, the winners were white men. For this reason, black women further seemed at black men to free them from land duties. They were going to put pressure on their men to move up. Such an edition came from Gail Stokes who was a black author.



In the 1968 article on black relationships, humiliation was expressed by Stokes for black men who did not adopt the bread-winning role. By she, it was despised to come home to see his partner “seem stunned”. Later, the servant, whom the white husbands will provide for their spouses, briefly reports to the nanny and the cooks.

It is not surprising that it was felt powerless by black men. However, while trying to get their power back, black men humiliated and checked black women. Since racial hierarchy black men in patriarchy have long denied their right to station and strength, most have been subjected to low monetary rewards. Although black men could not discover themselves through work, they could claim their masculinity through severity against women.

And so, the traditional white male sexual exploitation of black women was accepted by black men. The best example of this is Malcolm X. In his biography, he is depicted as exploiting black women while working as a pimp. At that time, he proved this, pretending that they were a menace to masculinity and should be ruled.


Chapter 4 – In the American feminist movement, if racism is not kept, it is not able to be fought against patriarchy.


According to every dictionary description, the term “woman” explains all-female people. However, the meaning of ‘women’ of the Women’s Rights Movement did not cover all women as you are going to acquire.

At the beginning of the movement, black women, whom they saw immoral and confused by white women, were feared to threaten their social posture. This was a problem marked by Josephine Ruffin who was the leader of the black New Age group. In her 1895 talk, by Ruffin, it was criticized by the white women’s club for rejecting to accept black women because of “black woman immorality”. This exclusion became the fundamental of feminism, and the white feminist movement united to maintain this racist ideology.

Let’s consider the white women of the federal government. In the early 1900s, discrimination in work areas, toilets, and showers were advocated by them. By the Women’s Rights Movement, it was even used racist thought to back up its campaigns for the right to vote. At the 1903 National American Women’s Suffrage Convention in New Orleans, the reason for a southern judge advocated defending the rights of white women was they would “provide women with direct and strong white domination”.

And it wasn’t just her. As a consequence of this racist discourse, the American suffrage action of the 1920s depended individually on the concerns of white middle and upper-class women. Black women have been deleted and still deleted from the feminist story, suggesting that white women are reluctant to leave their white primitive foundations.



If any development is to be made to divide the white patriarchal social order, black and white women should embrace it.

The struggle to earn the same privileges and authority of white men by the women’s liberation action that emerged in the late 1960s. However, due to the white men choose themselves with whom they will share this power, eventually they hold the power. This suggests that there is a big rivalry between black and white women to be a “selected” society of women.

As seen by the writer, white patriarchy was pitted against the “ethical” white woman against the “depraved” black woman to assure that both groups adhere to white men in the American power structure. It should be understood by American feminists that their platform is racist by nature. Rather than have an achieved women’s revolution, white feminists should shatter this platform and try to eliminate myths, cliché, or division forces among women.


Chapter 5 – By black women, it was had to agree on their roles in the Women’s Rights Movement because of racism in the community.


Black women have been forever trapped between a rock and a tough area. They obligated to fight the war on many fronts. No matter which war they have selected to struggle, black women had to agree. It occurred during the Women’s Rights Movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Women’s right to vote is celebrated as a great victory by us, however, keep in mind that black women do not take advantage of it, as white women do.

The hope was found at first. By Anna Cooper, who was a black women’s rights advocate in the nineteenth century, it was thought that women’s voting could have access to higher education and opportunities to live without marriage. However, even after the women’s right to vote in the 1920s, by black women, a small change in their social situation was seen. In the south, black women who tried to cast their hard-won votes were shifted away from the polls and impeded because of white voting administrators.

In case, women’s right to vote appeared in black pressure because white women voted hard to promote the racist, imperialist, patriarchal politics of their partners, fathers, and siblings. Moreover, black women had larger wars to fight, and the women’s rights effort took a back seat to protest the increase in racial discrimination.



The return of this separation menaced black people to deprive them of their rights during reconstruction after the civil war. Due to the expansion of Jim Crow laws, they were encountered; exclusion from unions, and any governmental jobs, such as postal service positions.

In other words, while the Equal Rights Change was advocated by white women in 1933, by black women activists, it was fought against lynching gangs and the conditions of black poverty.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, by black women who initially fought for gender equality, it was accepted to put their efforts into racial balance. In the next section, when the Civil Rights Movement appears, you are going to discover how black female managers hold back chairs for men in management situations.


Chapter 6 – By black women, it was also had to agree on their roles in black rights.


Black women were wrong if it was thought that they could return to defending women’s rights when black came to redemption by them. As much as black freedom truly reached, by black women, it still could not be enjoyed the freedom they expected. What was oppressive, imperialist, racist, and sexist is the American community.

Even on the road to black freedom, by black women, it was taken the back place of black men. By the male leaders of the Civil Rights Movement – Martin Luther King Jr, A. Philip Randolph, and Roy Wilkins – black women such as Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, and Fannie Lou Hamer were left in the shadow.

Although by black male leaders, anymore the racist black kindergarten myth was not calmly accepted, they adopted patriarchal gender roles proved by white men and expected black women to be quiet and less important.

Obedient women were not only the leaders of the movement that maintained their idea. In the 1950s, by black women, these gender roles were socialized to adopt through mass media like McCall’s magazine and Ladies Home Journal. Because of these publications, makeup, clothes, and feminine ideals were marketed to black women who started to enter the middle level.

This vaccination of black women through printing and television operated so well after many years, femininity, that can still be seen, built these opinions. In the sixties and seventies, by many black women, it was thought that black freedom should be governed by strong black patriarchy. This idea was obvious in the 1972 Together Black Women that is the book of Inez Smith Reid.



The book shares the view by black female interviewers that black men should play a dominant role in the black rights movement. “I think the woman should be behind the man,” said one of the participants. It was thought by the same woman that black men should lead to black salvation because “the symbol of races is represented by men”.

As it can be seen by us, the essence of each move of equality was decayed. The move of black liberation was naturally sexist and the feminist movement was racist. Therefore, what are we able to do about that? In the next section, a novel and radical vision are proposed.


Chapter 7 – By the feminist movement, the dominance of gender, race, and class in Western culture must be disrupted.


It needs to encourage to develop when you have been abused, humiliated, and sexually abused for hundreds of years. But it’s time to admit that the feminist movement should make improvements.

By the writer, it is discussed that feminism is bound within the white capitalist-patriarchal system. True feminism is defined as the liberation of whole men and women from whole models of domination, oppression, and sexist role by her. The only way to achieve this is said to be restructuring the US community, by her.

The current system increases male brutality. The culture of severity against women is not going to be shifted by building more shelters for victims of domestic abuse or by training women to defend themselves against male sexual assaults. Rather, the community must prevent promoting aggression and severity as a masculine ideal. To defend the bad situations of all oppressed human-beings, the individualist, imperialist, racist, and sexist oppression that forms the basis of American society should be broke by us.

A way to move forward is to ensure that the feminist movement prevents working within racist and classist boundaries. By the members of women’s rights organizations, it has not been yet dared to approach the exclusion that the feminist movement is based on. Unless accepting that some women experience sexist oppression more than others, a radical reform cannot happen.



In the white capitalist patriarchal system, it is in charge of the entire ideology of sexist and racist oppression. It was encouraged by white women and black men to investigate power within themselves within the existing patriarchy rules instead of joining races and genders to reach collective change and challenge white male command. This suggested that by black women, it was struggling to gain a sound in both the women’s movement and the black freedom movement.

By the writer, it is advocated a mark of feminism about restoring an entirely novel community. It would eliminate the “ideology of sovereignty” in Western culture and give priority to its people’s self-development according to economic and material achievements. As it is said by the hooks, “to me, feminism … is a responsibility to reduce the ideology of control that penetration Western culture at various levels – sex, race and class, a few names.”

to demolish each wall and build a completely new foundation to build upon.

The plan for feminism has long been dependent on a flawed strength composition. The time of destroying each wall and building a novel foundation came.


Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks Book Review


Black women have been under pressure for centuries, and this pressure is present even in women and black rights movements that exclude them. Overthrowing all existing power structures – race, class, and gender – is the single way to achieve correct equality, so any pressure or domination is reduced. This accusation was led, especially by black women, as they would earn the most as pioneers of this feminist movement.



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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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