In preparation for bell hooks’ visit to Purdue next week, I’ve posted links here to two of her recent interviews, part of her current (and second) residency at The New School. During next week’s Tuesday lecture, Dr. hooks will respond to student questions, which means that you all have the opportunity to shape the conversation with this prominent feminist, writer, and scholar. The following interviews, in addition to the assigned reading, should help you come up with some provocative questions.
In the first interview here, bell hooks speaks with trans actress Laverne Cox, who stars as Sophia on the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black. The second interview is perhaps the most controversial. hooks sparked much debate and controversy on this panel when she equated Beyonce with an anti-feminist “terrorist,” despite Beyonce’s recent claims that she is, in fact, a feminist (see Beyonce’s much talked about performance at the VMA awards this year). hooks’ comment arose out of a larger discussion with activist and author Janet Mock about Black women’s bodies and the impact of Beyonce’s music and image, in particular, on young women and girls.
BELL HOOKS INTERVIEWS LAVERNE COX
BELL HOOKS: “ARE YOU STILL A SLAVE?” (ON BEYONCE)
In a post on The Root, the author summarizes the controversial conversation between hooks and Mock:
“I see a part of Beyoncé that is, in fact, anti-feminist—that is, a terrorist—especially in terms of the impact on young girls,” hooks said.
The writer and scholar raised a question about whether Beyoncé had control over her image on the Time cover.
“Let’s take the image of this super-rich, very powerful black female and let’s use it in the service of imperialist, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy because she probably had very little control over that cover—that image,” said hooks.
Mock spoke in Beyoncé’s defense, arguing that Beyoncé was likely in full control of her image. “I would argue she chose this image, so I don’t want to strip Beyoncé of choosing this image—of being her own manager.”
In hooks’ eyes, Beyoncé not only may not have been in control of her image but was a slave to it.
Now might be a good time to review bell hooks’ definition of feminism, as well (handed out the second week of class), which sheds some light on her analysis of Beyonce above:
“Feminism is a commitment to eradicating the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels -sex, race, and class, to name a few – and a commitment to reorganizing U.S. society, so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.” (1981)