While it was written over 25 years ago, the Bell Hooks piece on the concept of privilege within feminist communities is strikingly contemporary. Feminists of privilege often naively assume that all women are united by their womanhood and ignore the fact that race, sexual orientation, class, etc. factor into each woman’s experience. Hooks states that a sort of universal “sisterhood” can be forged if women of all races unite not on the auspices of their shared oppression, but “on the basis of our political commitment to a a feminist movement that aims to end sexist oppression” (Hooks 129). What Hooks ignores is that “sexist oppression” can mean different things for different women. For example, in Michelle Obama’s 2012 DNC speech she stated that her most important job was as “mom-in-chief,” much to the public chagrin of many white feminists. However, Tami Winfrey Harris argued in a blog post that black women have not historically had the luxury of identifying solely as mothers and being seen as good mothers. In this way, it’s actually radical that Michelle Obama is framing herself as a strong, maternal figure. Thus, while I agree that women of all races can unite with shared feminist goals, I think that we also need to remember that privilege can result in different types of women having different goals.
Hooks, Bell. “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity Between Women” (1986).