It’s bell hooks Week

Over at the Ms. Blog. Go check it out!

This week at the Ms. Blog, we are running a series of essays celebrating the life and works of the extraordinary bell hooks. hooks has made a significant impact on feminism, race theory, education, class politics, the mass media and many, many people’s lives. Here’s what’s up so far:

Audrey Bilger’s 10 years of ‘Feminism is for Everybody’ honors a classic feminist text.

Ileana Jiménez looks at how hooks’ books, specifically Teaching to Transgress, have transformed her high school classroom, her students, and herself, in Teaching to Transgress in High Schools.

It’s All About Love for Ebony Utley, who continues hooks’ work on love by interviewing black women about their experiences with love and infidelity.

Inspired by hooks’ essay “Seduced by Violence No More” in Transforming a Rape Culture, Natalie Wilson wonders What If You Refuse to Be Seduced by Violence?

In hooks’ honor, let’s create a dialogue. We want to hear your thoughts–what are your favorite books by bell hooks? When did you first read her work? How has she impacted your feminism? How do you bring hooks into your everyday life?

4 thoughts on “It’s bell hooks Week

  1. I tried to get the capitalisation right on hooks’s name in the title, but wordpress wouldn’t let me!

  2. I am preparing to teach Feminist Philosophies for the 21st and last year and each and every time, I’ve taught hooks’ _From Margin to Center_.

    In my view, hooks asks one of the most significant questions in feminist theory, if not the most significant: when women define feminism as wanting to be equal to men, hooks asks us: Which men?

    In two words, she challenges the idea of equality as the holy grail of feminism and uncovers the white privileged focus of much of feminist theory. I’ve seen her talk several times and she is my hero.

  3. I know she prefers the lowercase spelling to demonstrate that the work itself is more important than the author. I’ll leave that to the English majors to discuss. Pen name or not, I still slip into conventional displays of respect when referring to somebody whose work struck such a chord with me.

    I had that discussion with a WS prof whose course I just missed auditing AGAIN! (It’s way too popular and full full fulll!) She prefers that her students call her by her first name, while I prefer titles in the classroom, partly because our WS profs’ titles are well earned, but also because I can be SUCH a table pounder. Even when I’m in 70, 80 or 95% agreement with a prof’s position on a given subject, that teensy bit of disagreement can sound much more contentious than I mean for it to sound, especially when time constraints force me to cram my questions/deconstructions/comparisons to more familiar material into as few syllables as possible. Titles are my buffer, my way of showing that it’s academic, not personal.

    I wonder if Dr. Watkins would mind my referring to her creative persona as I would refer to the Grandmother who inspired her? As a Person. As Bell Hooks?

    Synaesthetik’s more of an expert on feminist literature than I am. Much of what I know comes from hours of coffee chats with her about intersectionality (? jargon check?). Hooks’ work (or at least the way S interpreted and raved about it) had more than a little to do with my decision to keep fighting against the obstacles that were keeping me out of higher education. I don’t remember much of the Shop Talk, but the gyst of the ideas stuck with me. That all women are NOT equally beaten down, or beaten down in the same way. She shared a commentary on the slaves that were raped by their owners and then slapped around by their owners’ wives, and all of the appalling levels of exploitation and abuse inherent within that system. I can SO relate to that.

    I’m not familiar enough with her work–YET–to know if the conclusions that I’ve drawn are what she intended. But I’ve always believed that anybody from an oppressed group should look out for the interests of others who have been similarly oppressed. What is this world coming to when women roll their eyes and say “Nobody uses the word SISTERS anymore, unless they’re being ironic…” ? Call me naive, but if we can’t look out for our SISTERS, black, white, brown, gay, straight, trans, then what gives us the right to ask others to be fair to us?

    Sophia (love the name–it’s exactly what profs do :-)) You’re so lucky to have heard her speak! I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do that someday. And she is on my Definitely Must Read More list.

  4. In Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, hooks talks abou tthe reception of her very first work, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. She says, “some of the most outspoken black women active in feminist movement responded by trashing both it and me….I was totally unprepared for the hostility and contempt shown me by women whom I did not and do not see as enemies” (ix). I would like to understand this response, the context, etc., but haven’t had much luck finding sources to help me. Does anyone have more detailed information here? Or suggestions for places where I could find out? Thanks very much!

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