Get the key ideas from

Ain’t I a Woman

Black Women and Feminism

By bell hooks
13-minute read
Audio available
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks

Ain’t I a Woman (1981) is a work of feminist scholarship that explores the complexities of living in the United States as a black woman. Hooks examines the convergence of racism and sexism in major political and social movements throughout American history.

  • Women of color
  • Feminists
  • Those interested in race and gender theory

Bell hooks is a prolific feminist author, intellectual and social activist. Her writings focus on systems of oppression shaped by the intersection of race, class, and gender. She is a Distinguished Professor in Residence at Berea College in Kentucky, where she also founded the bell hooks Institute.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

Ain’t I a Woman

Black Women and Feminism

By bell hooks
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
Synopsis

Ain’t I a Woman (1981) is a work of feminist scholarship that explores the complexities of living in the United States as a black woman. Hooks examines the convergence of racism and sexism in major political and social movements throughout American history.

Key idea 1 of 8

Sexism intensified the suffering of black women during slavery.

We all know that no two people are the same. We are complicated, multi-dimensional human beings with our own unique personalities. Sadly, this doesn’t mean gender stereotypes don’t still exist; in fact, the stereotypes projected on woman have continued throughout history.

In the nineteenth century, white American men – who used to see all women as sexual temptresses – came to see them as pure, innocent and virginal creatures. But this stereotype didn’t apply to black women, who they still assumed to be promiscuous. This attitude can be dated to the arrival of white colonizers from Europe. While establishing social and political order in America, they laid the foundations for racism and sexism.

The colonizers labeled enslaved Africans as “sexual heathens.” Black women were viewed as sexually immoral temptresses, while white women were perceived as pure. To white men, this baseless prejudice justified the rape of black women.

While black men were subject to racism and exploitation, the added sexual exploitation of black women made their experiences far more demoralizing and dehumanizing. In addition to being forced to work in the fields alongside the men, women were used as domestic house slaves, a means of breeding new slaves, and objects of sexual assault.

This threat of sexual assault was used to terrorize black slave women, as slave Linda Brent recalls. In her autobiography, she describes how her white master tormented and verbally abused her with threats of rape throughout her teenage years. He told Linda that she was his property and must bend to his will “in all things.” Women who resisted these sexual advances from masters and overseers were punished, as a slave woman named Ann discovered.

Ann recalls the man who was paid to whip her and how he offered her a calico dress and earrings in return for her sexual submission. Instead, she hurled a bottle at him. Ann was sentenced to prison and daily floggings as a result. It was lucky the man didn’t die from her attack, or she would have been tried and likely sentenced to death. Sadly, this harsh treatment of black women and the stereotypes about their sexuality weren’t abolished along with slavery, as you’ll learn in the next blink.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.