Everyone needs to read this book! Mikki Kendall wrote one of those books that leaves me thinking for days. How do I respond to this? What should I highlight for this review? And, what kind of commentary do I want to provide that will be beneficial to modern feminists? Because, that’s the key to a book like this. Hood Feminism is so important and crucial to the modern state of feminism, but it also opens the door to some very complex issues. Although I first read this book months ago, I let it sit on my shelf while I mulled over a few points in my head.
First, Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism is a book that encompasses the spirit of gender studies. To me, though I’m an advocate of college education, it makes sense why it’s not an academic publication. So many great papers and articles on modern feminism, and other subjects, are not read or widely publicized, so their message is often lost within the classist realm of academia. Hood Feminism is so much more accessible to those that should read it by being available for purchase on book shelves everywhere or being available for rental at a public library. Kendall’s grandmother had the right idea: “As with work, education was something she believed everyone needed to have, and she didn’t much care how you got it, or how far you went, as long as you could take care of you” (x).
I didn’t want this review to be a regurgitation of all the highlights I’ve made in this book. It’s one of those books that you place on your coffee table during a nice dinner gathering with new and old friends because it’s a great conversation starter. Hood Feminism, at the very least, has a lot of statements that prompt the sharing of stories and the comparing of realities of being a female, woman, she/her, etc. Mikki notes, “We rarely talk about basic needs as a feminist issue” (xiii). It’s true, and I think it goes back to feelings of shame, self-consciousness, and embarrassment. So many of us prefer not to get into those details because of these feelings, and we do ourselves a disservice in the end. We revert back to centering the feminist discussion on “those who already have most of their needs met” (xiii).
Something that has been a personal struggle is the need to educate, not just ourselves on the movement’s progression and development but those within our communities. “Women in communities of color must balance fighting external problematic voices with educating those inside our communities who are bad actors, and we expect feminism to do the same work on itself,” Kendall writes (11). I can say from personal experience that those of us that try will often find a lot of push-back from our communities whether in the form of snide comments, ignorant assumptions, gossip and rumors, and a slandered reputation. Women, it seems, are often the biggest obstacles in the name of progress. Kendall highlights this need for education and the exposure of issues, especially in regards to the hyper-sexualization of girls of color and the issues men face within and because of patriarchy.
We need to talk about sexuality openly if we are going to handle the matter of feminism with a growth mindset. In my humble opinion, or not so humble if you review my resume, we need to educate and re-educate everyone on sexuality. Sexual arousal does not entitle anyone to an orgasm. Sexual arousal is not a direct pathway straight to orgasm. Sexual arousal should not be used as a shame function. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The conversation then needs to move to the practicalities of reproductive health and safety. I’m much invested in the BDSM slogan: safe, sane, consensual. Here, a multidisciplinary perspective works. And, then, Kendall moves into the touchy subject of eugenics and its place within the feminist discussion.
It all sounds so straightforward, but Kendall does present some contradictions that should be addressed. Yes, we need to think of real-world models of feminism, in other words, on the ground feminism. She doesn’t believe in leaving behind or disregarding our men of color because toxic patriarchy works against them too, which is a sound judgement. And, simultaneously, “We can’t sacrifice the futures of girls and femmes to preserve the futures of young toxic men or the institutions that made them possible” (84). As someone who’s been actively looking at these issues, through lived-experience and in researcher mode, this is the tricky part. We’ll end up alone and with very few friends and sometimes no family, not to mention a difficult time on the dating market. A very real threat of being an active feminist is marginalization and/or isolation from our community, which is not psychologically beneficial. It’s really difficult to find a happy middle ground in which we continue to remain open to experience and human connection, but I suppose that’s why we have these books and conversations. Kendall says, “Feminism that comes from a place of fear, that prioritizes not being afraid or not being uncomfortable over being effective, is dangerous” (168). Easier said and written than done!
Kendall, Mikki. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot. Viking, 2020.
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7 thoughts on “Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism”
One of the most discussed topic is feminism. The thing is that there are two types of feminism. The mainstream feminism and the feminism, which is different to every race, class and sexual orientation. Also Kendall is exploring the causes why mainstream feminism neglects to see how race, class, sexual orientation and disability intersects with gender. I think it is really important to show the people, and also every women how many different types of feminism does exist and that we have to fight for our rights! I have not read the book, but feminism is getting more and more important, especially because many women are threatened nowadays. We are not allowed to turn our backs on that important topic, wether man or woman.
This book called my attention, because of the reason that I’m very intrigued and fascinated by feminism. Moreover, knowing that the perspective of the book is from the education makes it more interesting, because education is the origin that can change the society in what we live today. I also think that it is extremely important to know the history that comes behind the feminist movement and the objectives it has. Although, I disagree with the part when the author mentions that men of color should be involved or not left aside in feminism, since this movement looks for equal rights between men and women and the color of the skin doesn’t erase the fact that they are still men, which of course have suffered hate acts from racist people, but for me, that is an entire different fight. I believe that most movements have an objective in common that is eliminating the toxic masculinity, which is one of the main causes that led our society to be this way. Besides this, I totally agree that we have to change our mindset and stop the taboo all generations have about sex, specifically with women. Overall, I find the topic of the book very engaging and I hope I can read it soon.
I am writing with regard to your comment on Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism. Personally, I wholeheartedly agree with what you address in this text and I think that as you have already mentioned it is of importance to criticize the failings of a mainstream movement of feminism: the exclusion of minorities from the banner of feminism and the failure to consider the breadth of issues affecting the daily lives of millions of women. My personal background as a daughter of a black woman enables me to understand not only what the exclusion of minorities in the general movement can express but I would also like to clarify that they do often struggle with the stereotypical expectations society suggests. Moreover I think that women do not only suffer because of major issues like the pay gap between men and women, sexual harassment or domestic, it starts with smaller things, like the waiter asking the man to pay instead of the women, that add up to a bigger picture damaging a woman’s self-esteem and self-worth. Nevertheless I think that Kendall’s book and our reactions to it already show that people pick up on the matter, express their criticism and suggest a solution.
I’ll maybe check out the book. About the feminism part of the review, I agree in the most part of it. A lot of people that’s part of the feminism group, doesn’t take it serious, and they even try to get advantage of it, it’s important to know when and why it was born and where is it going. It’s important that the movement knows their past so they can know what to expect or want from the future. And now the part of sexuality: It is clearly important that we need a really good sexual education, and we need students to be serious about it. The amount of people that get sick because of bad sexual education its concerning. And the people thoughts on sexuality its really poor, so yes, we should educate better, we should be more consistent with this so we can live in a healthier world, both physically and mentally.
The book Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall talks about feminism, but it touches on not so well-known subjects, such as problems in the feminist movement and differences between white and POC women. I don’t really agree with Kendall’s views about men of color being involved in feminism. Of course, they suffer racism, but they are still men, and feminism was made by women and for women. What I agree with is the fact that we need to talk about sexuality openly and we need more education about this topic, especially among young people. After reading this review, I really want to read this book, I find the topic to be very educational and important.