feminism: a form of resistance against patriarchal domination; the struggle to end sexist oppression. It is debatable and differs from person to person whether feminism applies only to people who identify as women or to oppressed peoples everywhere. Sometimes thought to be a lifestyle choice and political statement as demonstrated by 2nd-wave lesbian separatists, but bell hooks refutes the limitations of feminism as a lifestyle because feminist lifestyles (and separatism especially) are not always accessible to all women and they then become yet another role that women must choose to conform to in their daily lives.
According to hooks, feminism as an identity should be communally-based rather then individually-based and should remain political through one’s actions and not just one’s lifestyle choice.
Because the root of the word feminism, fem, is female-based, it follows that feminism equates to female activity; thus is it possible for men to do feminism? There remains much debate about whether men should be included in feminist struggle and movements.
Also, there is still much debate over feminism’s goals: does feminism mean liberation for some women, all women, all people? Does liberation for some mean oppression for others? Is it possible to abolish sexist oppression without also abolishing gender or capitalism? Cellestine Ware defines radical feminism as “working for the eradication of domination and elitism in all human relationships.” She goes on to say that this eradication “would make self-determination the ultimate good and require the downfall of society as we know it today.” (Woman Power, 3).
I think bell hooks’ articulation of feminism in its relation to Western culture is the most acute: “Feminism is a struggle to end sexist oppression. Therefore, it is necessarily a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels as well as a commitment to reorganizing society so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.” (Feminist Theory Reader, 51).