Gidden and Sutton’s Sociology (8th Edition), section Gender and Sexuality (pages 636-339).
A specific section of the given reading particularly caught my interest, Black feminism. In this subsection, a point was raised by Bell Hooks which I found really interesting, as I had never thought about it in that way before. Hooks wrote how many feminists decided that the general root of their oppressions was due to the fact that the patriarchy was “inadequate” and that because of this, it should be seen as a universal phenomenon. However, Hooks makes a very valid argument, that the concept does not allow for any variety in history or culture and instead ignores any influences made by race, class or ethnicity – any of which may have an effect on the nature of a woman’s status.
Numerous white feminists have written about the difference in levels of self-esteem between white girls and black girls. They claim that black girls tend to have a higher self esteem, which is evidential through their confidence and assertiveness. According to Hooks, this would be because of their upbringing by parents and teachers, who would have wanted to introduce these traits to their daughters/pupils intentionally, to “uplift the race”.
During the campaign for woman’s rights, early black suffragettes supported the movement. However, as it continued, many realised that even if woman gained more rights, they would still be discriminated against for their race. The question of race could not be ignored. By fighting for gender equality, they would still only have won half of the battle as the course of action did not take racism into account.
During an input, we were shown a video which explored various stereotypes which follow the phrase “like a girl”. This video is so powerful as it not only shows men’s primary conceptions of the phrase (which would be the expected) but also women’s perceptions of themselves. After showing a few examples of what different people think “throw like a girl” or “fight like a girl” means, the video then shows what a younger girl perceives these actions to be.
It seems a shame that young girls are interpreting “like a girl” as the stereotype that I would have expected to have started to fade away at this point in time. I feel that as a society, we should be teaching young girls and boys to overcome the stereotypes that the older generations have followed for so long and instead encourage them to be who they want to be and like what they want to like regardless of whether it is seen as for a girl or boy.