Guest Post! What is Feminism? Posted on April 28th, 2021 by

Book over for We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieToday we welcome guest blogger Ashley Evans, the Library’s academic assistant, for the first post is a series on feminism resources. (Please note that you will need your Gustavus user ID/password to access some of these materials.)

As many of you know, the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library holds thousands of books on all different subjects. One subject very close to my heart is books written about feminism, for feminists, by feminists, and everything in between. Before I dive into the intricacies of the collection, book recommendations, and interesting lessons about feminism – what is feminism? Feminism can be hard to define as it is unique to every person, and for me, it is the movement to gain equality and equity for everyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, ethnic background, or any number of other factors. Feminism itself is widely defined as “the movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” and the modern movement seeks to end oppression and dismantle the systems that keep people oppressed (hooks 2000, viii).

Now, there are many ideas of who has privilege and who is oppressed, and the answer depends heavily on different factors. Things such as location, society, government, etc. all have large effects on who is viewed as privileged. For example, men still have privileges that women do not have, and white people have privilege that people of color do not have access to. This is not to say that any of these “privileged” groups should be demonized, far from it, but they must open themselves to learning.

Many people see privilege as an added benefit – some idea that, if you are privileged, life will be easier across the board, and you will not have hardships. This is a definition that is not necessarily accurate. Privilege is the absence of certain barriers, such as microaggressions and hate speech, that other people may have. There may still be barriers in life, but the barriers will be in different areas or varying intensities. Everything in life is intersectional – an idea that people’s identities intersect and create compounded experiences with these added barriers.

Feminism acknowledges that everyone is equal and works to find ways to make it so that society reflects this.

If this topic is intriguing to you, I recommend these books from the library’s collection as a starting point:

If you are already versed in the basics, here is a short list of databases and authors you can search in the library catalog to dive deeper:

And, as always, you can ask our Reference Librarians for any further assistance and recommendations.

Source: bell hooks, Feminism is for everybody: passionate politics. London: Pluto Press, 2000.


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