Noted author, feminist and activist Bell hooks called Beyoncé a “terrorist” during a discussion at New York City’s The New School yesterday (May 7), titled “are You Still A Slave?”
Hooks was joined by fellow author and activist Janet Mock, author Marci Blackman, and filmmaker Shola Lynch, for an open-ended talk about feminism and the “enslavement of the Black female body” as it relates to depictions in the media.
Beyoncé’s name came up due to her Time magazine cover, showing the superstar stripped down in a sheer shirt, bra, and panties. According to Brooks the photo is an example of the lack of power Black women have in the media.
“One could deconstruct for days that…first she’s looking kind of like a deer in headlights,” said Hooks. “And she’s wearing the panty and bra set that some of us wore when we were 10 or 12, and I’m thinking ‘Isn’t this interesting that she’s being supposedly held up as one of the most important people in our nation, in the world? What is that cover meant to say about the Black female body?”
Hook believes the photo to be a perpetuation of a white-supremacist patriarchal agenda – one that, in this case, made Beyoncé look like “a little girl we can lust after.”
Mocks disagreed, by noting that Mrs. Carter picks her own wardrobe. “I would argue she chose this image… so I don’t want to strip Beyoncé of choosing this image — of being her own manager,” she said.
Hooks replied, “Then you’re saying then, from my deconstructive view, that she is colluding in the construction of herself as a slave.”
Later in the talk the women debate the empowering factors in Beyoncé’s music. Mocks, who is transgender, spoke to her own experience growing up, the gender restrictions inflicted upon her, and breaking free of that identity. “Having ‘Partition’ come out a couple months before my book came out — when I am writing about sex work and sexual abuse and issues with my body, my sexuality — it was freeing to have Beyoncé owning her body and claiming that space” she said.
Mock also pointed out that Beyoncé has a large amount of freedom and control over how she is portrayed in the media. In response Hooks said, “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. I actually feel like the major assault on feminism in our society has come from media.”
Beyoncé has gotten lots of criticism for her sexier image and lyrics, but the superstar believes herself to be every bit the feminist. She penned an essay on the subject at the top of the year and routinely speaks on inspiring women and girls, but does hooks make a good point?
Is Beyoncé merely a pawn in a bigger game?
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