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Transcript of bell hooks
September 25, 1952
1976::First taught at USC- "And There We Wept"
Compilation of poems
First use of the pen name "bell hooks"
English professor and senior lecturer in Ethnic Studies
bell hooks: Career
“Whether we’re talking about race or gender or class, popular culture is where the pedagogy is, it’s where the learning is, and so I think that partially, people like me who started off doing feminist theory or more traditional literary criticism or what have you, begin to write about popular culture largely because of the impact it was having as the primary pedagogical medium for masses of people globally who want to in someway understand the politics of difference” 1:55 2:27
Popular Culture as Pedagogy
Asserts that girls obsessions with love start from the “first recognition that females matter less than males, that no matter how good we are, in the eyes of the patriarchal universe we are never quite good enough.”
Females are taught that they must “earn” love
Skeptical about the concept of marriage.
Never wanted to marry because she never wanted a man to tell her what to do.
"Ideas about love handed down to us by patriarchal narratives has told us again and again that it was the woman’s place to be the nurturer and caregiver. Feminist thinking shook us to out core, because it told us this was just nonsense.”
Her search for love lead her to feminism
Falling in love vs. choosing to love
Choosing to love implies control, power, and agency while “falling” implies a loss of power and the possibility of victimhood.
Chapter on Lesbian love– very radical and ahead of her time
Wisdom is necessary to love
Early 1980's : Cal, Santa Cruz, SFSU- "Ain't I a Woman ? Black Women and Feminism "
Touches on race and class within feminism
1985: Yale- Teaches African American Studies
1986: Oberlin College- Associate Professor of English
1995: City College of New York- Professor, then distinguished professor of English
2002: Southwest University Commencement Speech- contreversial
Spoke against government sanctioned violence and oppression
2004:Berea College- Distinguished professor-in-residence
"Monday Night Feminism", "Peanut Butter and Gender" & "Building Beloved Community: The practice of Impartial Love"
"Belonging: a Culture of Place"- bell hooks most recent published work
Interview with author Wendell Berry and move back to Kentucky
Why study Popular Culture?
Critical Thinking as Transformation
The Power of Representations
Why "White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy"
Doing Cultural Criticism Hoop Dreams: Constructed Narrative
Dealing with OJ
Madonna: From Feminism to Conservatism
Spike Lee: Hollywood's Fall Guy
KIDS: Whose Gaze?
Rap: Authentic Expression or Market Construct?
Black Female Bodies: Color Caste Systems
Consuming Commodified Blackness
bell hooks is known to frequently relate topics such as sex, race, class, gender, and much more to mass media
She looks at pop culture to see how her theories are exemplified through this outlet
Specifically she is incredibly critical of how media portrays black people
White supremacists have recognized that control over images is central to the maintenance of any system of racial domination.”- bell hooks.
"Film is so central because it, more than any other media experience, determines how blackness and black people are seen and how other groups will respond to us based on their relation to these constructed and consumed images” – bell hooks
Hooks believes that film is one of the most powerful cultural spaces in which white supremacy is produced and reproduced across generations.
Film not only presents issues of race, but also issues of sex and how females are portrayed
(ex. "Charlie's Angels") "In the working world as the well paid “servants” of the patriarchal an behind the scenes, Charlie, the angels conduct themselves as the equals of or superiors to men, whether in intellectual skills or in the killing strategies (they murder as unemotionally, as brutally, and as swiftly as any macho man), but when it comes to romance, to love, they dither and titter and giggle like girls. They lose their minds, their perspectives.”
No woman can measure up to the standards set by most characters in film
Major Ideas- continued...
Mass Media- Music
hooks analyzes Madonna’s music career in relation to feminism
According to hooks, Madonna’s early career offered a radical intervention into the sexual politics of the 1980s.
Madonna challenged patriarchal notions through her music
Early videos like “Material Girl” challenge traditional notions of women’s sexuality and assert a self-defined sexuality.
hooks asserts that by the 1990s, Madonna began to allow herself to be stereotypically sexualized and objectified.
hooks believes that black women in popular music tend to be portrayed as more sexually free and uninhibited. Some musicians use this to promote their music. (successful black musicians include Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson…)
Tina Turner’s career- completely centered around her as a sex object which was created by her husband of the time Ike Turner
Rap culture- males exerting physical dominance over women
hooks describes this as “dick-thing” masculinity
“Rappers use rough talk and action, which includes bragging about “diciplinin” their women, about making sure the “bitches” respect them… so much of their sense of value and self-esteem is hooked into the patriarchal macho image; these brothers are not about to surrender their “dick-thing” masculinity.”
The music industry exploits this masculine stance for the sake of profit
–“Rape Culture” within rap music
I picked this sign because it represents her theory in two ways. First, it has the symbol for women and the fist for empowerment. Second, it uses the color purple to symbolize struggle, hardships and bravery
The second comparison I found to bell hooks’ theory is the novel and movie The Color Purple originally written by Alice Walker and later directed by Steven Spielberg. The initial reason I chose this is because the color purple is continually equated with suffering and pain. Sofia's swollen, beaten face is described as the color of "eggplant". Purple is the color of Celie's private parts, the site of her sexual violation. However, later Shug points out to her that life must be enjoyed. When they are in a field of purple flowers, Shug tells Celie to look at the flowers and embrace their beauty. She later paints her room in her new house a shade of purple which symbolizes triumph and strength. After more research, I discovered that our reader points out that: “Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, presents women’s reality as one that is centered on relationships and characterized by patience, perseverance, tolerance, and mutual support among women” This is an accurate example of what bell hooks believes feminism is about. “In the novel, almost none of the abusers possess a stereotypical demon-like demeanor that could be dismissed as pure evil. The characters who perpetuate violence are themselves, victims, often of sexism, racism, or paternalism.”This is an accurate representation of bell hooks theory that feminism as a movement to end sexist oppression directs our attention to systems of domination and the inter-relatedness of sex, race, and class oppression.Here is a clip from the movie in 1985
“To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself.”“Confronted with an institution of all-white teachers who she judged were not interested in transforming the minds of their pupils but simply transferring irrelevant bodies of knowledge. She writes that the knowledge they were supposed to soak up bore no relation to how they lived or behaved. ‘Bussed to white schools’, bell hooks recalls, ‘we soon learned that obedience, and not zealous will to learn, was what was expected of us’. Too much eagerness to learn she regarded as something that could easily be seen as a threat to white authority.”
•Segregated school with mainly single black women as teachers
•Transitioned to integrated school
“To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn. That learning process comes easiest to those of us who teach who also believe that there is an aspect of our vocation that is sacred; who believe that our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students. To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.”
•Her first book: Teaching to transgress 1994
–Collection of essays- written for everyone
–Argued for progressive holistic education
: “My hope emerges from those of struggle where I witness individuals positively transforming their lives and the world around them. Educating is always a vocation rooted in hopefulness. As teachers we believe that learning is possible, that nothing can keep an open mind from seeking after knowledge and finding a way to know.”
bell hooks: education
•Neither rich nor poor want to talk about it
•Interconnected– do not stand on their own
•To understand them you must understand all other issues, etc.
•Media:–Portrays race in two ways:
•Africans as potential disruptors of status quo
•Must demand end to media as propaganda
•Race must be critically and honestly addressed
Do you associate a negative connotation with the word feminist? Would you label yourself a feminist - Why or why not?
How do you see black people positively portrayed within mass media? Are there are specific films, music videos, or musicians you can think of that bell hooks would approve of?
How does bell hooks define feminism? how do you define feminism?
Can you think of any examples in popular culture that support the argument that bell hooks has made about making a commodity out of ethnic culture?
Bell hooks: class
Bell hooks: race