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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 Marx’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, “what has become of women?” as a result of all this.

Men are first, women are after; this is a very well known idea of a man’s and an anti-feminist’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 “Introduction from The Second Sex” states that women are classified as “the Other” 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 “men would never find the need to write books on the situation of the human male…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, “Black Women: Shaping Feminist Theory” 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. Beauvoir’s idea of �the One’ and �the Other’ can be applied to hooks work differentiating white and black women. Where Beauvoir distinguishes between men and women and states that the men are �the One’ and women are �the Other,’ white women can be seen as �the One’ and black women as �the Other’. 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 “group of college-educated, middle and upper class, married white women – housewives bored with leisure, with the home, with children, with buying products, who wanted more out of life” (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 “growing up in a working class household experiencing various degrees of patriarchal tyranny” (hooks 65). The classification of �the One’ and �the Other’ 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 Beauvoir’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. hooks’ 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

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