Went in with bell hooks about black womanhood, gender policing, trans women of color, desire, self-love and so much more during our intimate conversation at Ohio State University It was organized by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Multicultural Center and titled, “Gender Policing & the Politics of Defining Womanhood.”
Last night, upon our first meeting, I gave bell my book Redefining Realness, and she surprised me at breakfast this AM by having read the entire book. She actually read passages to the audience! It was a transformative experience for both of us, as black women from different generations and experiences to share stories, insights and thoughts.
Let’s talk about this quote for a second.
I remember I attended a college lecture about what feminism means in America and how imperial politics and economic gaps between the West and East render what women want and consider pivotal to their feminism as conflicting and even antagonistic to each other.
My feminism, first and foremost, will always be anti-imperialism.
Imperial politics are dangerous and the very essence of narcissism. Imperial politics demonstrated within a feminist frame usually goes as follows: the most privileged women, ie. those who have access to technology, representation, occupy a particular media-friendly image or ideology and have access to those in higher slots in society are allotted platforms to speak about their experiences as women and without question, this gets presumptuously labelled “women’s experiences”. Being that women who are globally bestowed the highest tier are usually allowed such room to speak, their minimal struggles are then homogenized as the quintessential female experience and misogyny is wholeheartedly announced a tangible issue that can be easily eradicated out of modern Western society.
Its no accident that women of color, women in occupied regions and those who face mass political or economic repression and their words which don’t satisfy neoliberal, imperialist gaze are deemed anti-progressive, race baiters, backwards, terrorist apologists, etc. Our complex, multi-faceted struggles within a white supremacist empire tap into too many accepted status quos for the average American moderate. It forces those who legitimize the war on terror and view racism as an entity of the past to confront their own unsightly prejudices and the systematic brutality their nations enacts on various global societies, as well as within its borders. Its easier to find (and fabricate) any reason to demonize the likes of Trayvon Martin and his family for his own tragic demise or deem young Yemeni children necessary collateral damage for “the greater good” than to examine what other oppressions beyond misogyny exist that unquestionably burden the lives of otherized communities, including and especially the women in said communities.
Power feminism expects women to unanimously rejoice in the presidential election of Hillary Clinton, while her administration carries out the same murderous policies as her predecessors. Power feminism labels any legitimate criticism of influential women as inherent egregious misogyny. Power feminism devalues the loss of women’s lives abroad, while infantizling their independent resistance and stripping their agency by shamelessly declaring intervention as saving them. Power feminism within an imperialistic frame needs the hyper-demonization of otherized communities to justify its occupation. Power feminism can be even more dangerous than ruthless misogyny because of its insidious nature and lack of culpability.
A distinction must be made between the power of viewers to interpret a film in ways that make it palatable for the everyday world they live in and the particular persuasive strategies films deploy to impress a particular vision on our psyches. The fact that some folks may attend films as “resisting spectators” does not really change the reality that most of us, no matter how sophisticated our strategies of critique and intervention, are usually seduced, at last for a time, by the images we see on the screen. They have power over us and we have no power over them.
Whether we call it “willing suspension of disbelief” or just plain submission, in the darkness of the theater most audiences choose to give themselves over, if only for a time to the images depicted and the imaginations that have created those images. It is that moment of submission, of overt or covert seduction that fascinates me as a critic. I want to critically understand and “read” what is happening in that moment, what the film tries to do to us."
Reel to Real: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies, bell hooks
(“Introduction: Making Movie Magic”)
Students who considered themselves socialists were not so
much interested in the poor as they were desirous of leading
the poor, of being their guides and saviors. It was just this
paternalism toward the poor that the vision of solidarity I had
learned in religious settings was meant to challenge. From a
spiritual perspective, the poor were there to guide and lead the
rest of us by example if not by outright action and testimony.
As a student I read Marx, Gramsci, and a host of other male
thinkers on the subject of class. These works provided
theoretical paradigms but rarely offered tools for confronting
the complexity of class in daily life. […]
[W]hen I told friends and colleagues that I was resigning from my academic job to focus on writing, I was warned that I was making a dangerous mistake, that I could not possibly live on an income that was between twenty and thirty thousand dollars a year. When I pointed to the reality that families of four and more live on such an income, the response would be “that’s different”; the difference being, of course, one of class. The poor are expected to live with less and are socialized to accept less (badly made clothing, products, food, etc.), whereas the well-off are socialized to believe it is both a right and a necessity for us to have more, to have exactly what we want when we want it."