Although there are more women CEOs today than there were at the beginning of the 1970s, complaints of workplace harassment and threats toward women who speak out have remained largely unchanged. But author and activist Mikki Kendall explains that the feminist movement has an even larger failure to contend with: the way that it has left behind women of color as white women grab more power. Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot critiques the dangers of this exclusionary brand of feminism and exhorts those who support changing it for the better.
Throughout the book, Kendall points toward political arenas that historically haven’t been tied to feminism, like food insecurity, gun violence and access to education—issues that largely affect communities of color. Kendall not only details the ways in which ignoring these issues has turned feminism into white feminism but also explains how these missteps have resulted in the failure of feminism as a whole. She convincingly demonstrates how this exclusionary behavior, intended to protect the interests of white women who “cling to the agency and selfhood they feel they have fought so hard to achieve,” in fact results in an outcome that threatens those interests: a strengthening of the patriarchy that actively works against the goal of equality.
Hood Feminism addresses a world that has abandoned marginalized people in favor of creating more opportunity for those who are already in power. For Kendall, the work of feminism is not the achievement of female success but rather the achievement of a larger ideal: genuine equality. If that is the goal, the work of feminism is far from over.
In fact, with rising income inequality, surging gentrification and shrinking social services, the work of feminism has only just begun.