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Think Like a Feminist, Chapters 1 - 3 Questions

1. Hay says she tries to be honest about the mistakes feminists have made in the past, and says, “our calls for solidarity among women far too often gave in to the temptations of racism, classism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia.” Later, in chapter one she says “Third wave feminism’s realizations--that the history of feminism is also a history of racism and classism.” Let's dissect these sentences.

2. Let's discuss these quotes from Chapter 1:

  • “Decolonial feminist philosophers….criticize the tendency of many western feminists to treat women from third world countries as if they were one homogeneous group whose members face identical oppressive harms…If we’re going to criticize the cultural practices of others, we need to make completely certain we’re equally willing to cast scrutiny on our own.”

  • “Sexism and racism and other forms of oppression are always interconnected and as long as we continue to ignore these relationships we’ll only ever advance the interests of some women at the expense of others.”

  • “Men are appalled by the specter of the angry feminist because they’ve been told it's their birthright to have women make their lives more pleasant.”

3. Why do we think women themselves are so often complicit in sexism?

4. Page 20: Some Feminist philosophers look down on women who conform to sexism weather in the form of beauty standards, enduring mistreatment by men, letting men dictate their choices, etc. Why is it dangerous to do this?

5. Page 19: Hay discusses how women’s value, worth and power often hinge on whether men find them attractive. How does this sexist idea fuel the beauty industry?

6. Page 24: What do you think of this quote: “We are never forced to consider that rage was possibly behind the actions of the few women’s heroes we’re taught about in school…instead…we regularly ingest cultural messages that suggest a woman's rage is irrational, dangerous or even laughable.”

7. Page 26-28: In your own words, what is Girl Power feminism and why is it problematic? Let's talk Girl Power: Why do you think we as a society often encourage our young girls to be strong and independent and challenge the system but frown on adult women who do just that?

8. Page 32: The Birdcage metaphor describes each wire of a bird cage as a form of oppression, small on their own, but when arranged systematically and strategically, form a cage. Hay stresses the definition of oppression, aka, the difference between experiencing a wire vs experiencing a birdcage. (need question) Think of the time you have heard men/white people/able bodied people argue that they are oppressed AS a member of that dominant group. Let’s discuss why these instances are wires, and not birdcages.

9. Page 53: Hay points out that the first thing we tend to compliment women on, even young girls, is their looks. “Look how pretty you are!” These little things that we do are examples of conditioned misogyny that have negative consequences we aren't even aware of. What are some other “little” things we do that are based in misogyny?

10. Let's discuss these quotes from chapters 2 and 3:

  • Page 63: “Pretending that there is some common core of femininity shared across these lines, is a recipe for disaster...falsely enshrining the experiences of privileged, white, cis, straight women as the experiences of all women.”

  • Page 70: Audrey Lorde quote: “For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but will never bring about genuine change.”

  • Page 73: Let’s discuss this quote, and how it frames the intersectionality between feminist and queer theory: “When we don’t pay attention to the sex/gender distinction, we imply that whether you have a penis or vagina will determine what kind of person you are.”

11. In chapter 3, Hay dives into the history of sex and gender and where these western ideological ideas come from. What surprised/stood out to you/resonated with you in this section?

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