On Tuesday, during a discussion titled “Are You Still a Slave” at The New School in New York City, author bell hooks, trans activist Janet Mock, author Marci Blackman and filmmaker Shola Lynch sat down for a thought-provoking talk that quickly turned into a discourse on Beyonce’s declared feminism.
But it was hooks’ opinion when discussing the singer’s Time Magazine cover that had heads turning.
“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.
She went on:
“Would we be at all interested in Beyoncé if she wasn’t so rich? Because I don’t think you can separate her class, power and the wealth from people’s fascination with her that here’s a young black woman who is so incredibly wealthy…one could argue even more than her body, it’s what that body stands for, the body of desire fulfilled that is wealth, fame, celebrity—all the things that so many people in our culture are lusting for, wanting. Let’s say if Beyoncé was a homeless woman who looked the same way, or a poor, down and out woman who looked the same way, would people be enchanted by her? Or is it the combination of all of those things that are at the heart of imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy?”
Mock, author of the New York Times bestseller Redefining Realness, defended the singer, telling the panel that she was inspired by Beyonce’s brand, noting her decision to own her sexuality.
“I would argue she chose this image, so I don’t want to strip Beyoncé of choosing this image — of being her own manager.”
“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.”
hooks, respectfully, fired back:
“Then you are saying, from my deconstructive point of view, that she is colluding in the construction of herself as a slave….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.”
Do you agree? You can listen to the conversation above and sound off below…