The Continuing Struggle Between Men and Women
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The continuing struggle between the two classes: men and women, has made it extremely difficult for both to ever find peace amongst each other. It has reached a point where it is nearly impossible for one class to ever view another with respect. Class struggle is much more than MarxÐ²Ð‚™s definition of relationship to the means of production (Hooks 61). In other words, if one is to view society with logic, you come to see that the chief attribute that our society consists of is men and women, nothing else. Every other characteristic of our society is connected to these two genders and thus comes after. However, the most obvious yet ignored is the complexity between men and women on standing equal grounds. The two famous feminists, Simone de Beauvoir and Bell Hooks, in their works draw on the many difficulties for women within societies. Both focus on separate aspects of the struggle for women and what facets have lead women to where they stand today. The essay by Bell Hooks concentrates on the class struggle between men and women and the race struggle amongst women while Simone de Beauvoir in her piece persists to answer the question, Ð²Ð‚Ñšwhat has become of women?Ð²Ð‚Ñœ as a result of all this.
Men are first, women are after; this is a very well known idea of a manÐ²Ð‚™s and an anti-feministÐ²Ð‚™s mentality. Women are simply viewed as secondary objects and men are viewed as the leaders in society, thus creating gender and class struggle. Simone de Beauvoir, in her essay Ð²Ð‚ÑšIntroduction from The Second SexÐ²Ð‚Ñœ states that women are classified as Ð²Ð‚Ñšthe OtherÐ²Ð‚Ñœ in society, hence making them secondary to men. Men are first, women come after. In stating this, Beauvoir continues to discuss her ideas on women and thus incessantly relates back to that classification. She talks about many dissimilarities between men and women and how Ð²Ð‚Ñšmen would never find the need to write books on the situation of the human maleÐ²Ð‚¦a man does not ever need to begin any book, sentence, paragraph, what ever the case may be by presenting himself as an individual of a certain sex: it goes without saying he is a man (Beauvoir 28). Even after stressing to society the importance of women through many works, they are constantly ignored or criticized. If a man was to write a book on the human male, he most certainly will be heard and understood, and will possibly be able to take action to the situation without any constraint. bell hooks on the other hand in her essay, Ð²Ð‚ÑšBlack Women: Shaping Feminist TheoryÐ²Ð‚Ñœ compares the roles of white women and black women. She speaks about the many struggles of white and black women. Although her essay is more focused towards racial struggle rather than class, hooks points out the idea that white women have the upper hand in society. Women as a whole are oppressed by many societies however, white women cannot compare to black women. hooks bases her thoughts and ideas on the differences amongst women, in this case white and black women. BeauvoirÐ²Ð‚™s idea of Ð²Ð‚?the OneÐ²Ð‚™ and Ð²Ð‚?the OtherÐ²Ð‚™ can be applied to hooks work differentiating white and black women. Where Beauvoir distinguishes between men and women and states that the men are Ð²Ð‚?the OneÐ²Ð‚™ and women are Ð²Ð‚?the Other,Ð²Ð‚™ white women can be seen as Ð²Ð‚?the OneÐ²Ð‚™ and black women as Ð²Ð‚?the OtherÐ²Ð‚™. hooks looks at various different works by numerous authors to prove her point. She talks about the differences in the types of oppression white and black women have experienced. A work she viewed by the author Betty Freidan, states white women that felt oppression were a Ð²Ð‚Ñšgroup of college-educated, middle and upper class, married white women Ð²Ð‚” housewives bored with leisure, with the home, with children, with buying products, who wanted more out of lifeÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (hooks 60). In this work, hooks talks about white women who had so much but yet saw so little in their lives. She speaks of her own experience as Ð²Ð‚Ñšgrowing up in a working class household experiencing various degrees of patriarchal tyrannyÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (hooks 65). The classification of Ð²Ð‚?the OneÐ²Ð‚™ and Ð²Ð‚?the OtherÐ²Ð‚™ has not just been directed towards men and women, it can be related to many social situations; in this case white and black women. In pointing out BeauvoirÐ²Ð‚™s classification, the weakness of the women can be seen along with the strength of men. Men benefit from the Other merely because of the general classification of women not being complete without men. These types of classifications give men the strength in responding, or making any decision when it comes to women. hooksÐ²Ð‚™ argument of white women even after viewing themselves as oppressed have the advantage because of the opportunities they have in society for the mere reason of being white. Whereas black women, from the earliest epochs of history have been discriminated against in various different social ways and thus white women do not know the real meaning of being oppressed.
Furthermore, to give a more thorough explanation of class struggle, Beauvoir compares men and women to the proletariat and bourgeoisie; bourgeoisie (the ruler) being the men and the proletariat (the worker) being the women. However, Beauvoir states that the Ð²Ð‚Ñšproletariat have not always existed, whereas there has always been womenÐ²Ð‚¦Throughout history they have always been subordinated to men and hence their dependency is not the result of a historical event or social change Ð²Ð‚” it was not something that occuredÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Beauvoir 30). Women have never been able to overthrow this perception of the male because, Ð²Ð‚Ñšthey live dispersed among the males, attached through residence, housework, economic condition, and social standing to certain men Ð²Ð‚” fathers or husbands Ð²Ð‚” more firmly than they are to other womenÐ²Ð‚¦she is the Other in a totality of which the two components are necessary to one anotherÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Beauvoir 30). This portrays the weakness women withhold and also the strength men withhold. In hooksÐ²Ð‚™ case, the idea of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat can be once again applied to white and black women. hooks describes white women as Ð²Ð‚?the privilegedÐ²Ð‚™ and thus can be classified as the bourgeoisie. Ð²Ð‚ÑšPrivileged women wanted social equality with men of their class; some women wanted equal pay for equal work; others wanted an alternate lifestyleÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (hooks 63). On the other hand, the black women are seen as Ð²Ð‚?the unprivilegedÐ²Ð‚™ and Ð²Ð‚?the unheard, the criticized, the ignoredÐ²Ð‚™.