Is Beyonce "Anti-Feminist" & a "Terrorist"? One Scholar Thinks So
Say what you will about Beyoncé. You don't have to like her. You can think she's self-indulgent. You can even go so far as to say you don't like dancing to her music when you're alone in your apartment. But, Beyoncé is not, as scholar bell hooks put it, "a terrorist." That's over-the-top, for sure, and that comment detracts from everything else hooks (real name Gloria Jean Watkins) might have had to offer about her thoughts on Beyoncé, be those thoughts negative or not.
Hooks spoke at The New School in New York City in a talk entitled, "Are You Still A Slave? On Liberating The Black Female Body." Beyoncé evidently came up in conversation when transgender activist Janet Mock noted that Beyoncé was an inspiration, as she is to many women, who find her music empowering. Hooks then said:
I see a part of Beyonce 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 visual media and from television and videos.
Terrorist? Hmm, I don't think so.
Hooks goes on to discuss Beyoncé's recent cover of Time magazine (and, by the way, Sheryl Sandberg wrote her profile, which is of note), citing that the singer probably didn't have control over what she wore, which was a sheer top and white bikini underneath it. If she's not in control of the Time cover, is she worthy of being touted a feminist?
Hooks postures that a large amount of Beyoncé's power comes from her wealth, which thereby increases her visibility. She said:
Would we be at all interested in Beyonce 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 is a young black woman who is so incredibly wealthy [...] Wealthy is what so many young people fantasize, dream about, sexualize, eroticize...and one could argue even more than her body is what that body stands for...wealth, fame, celebrity -- all the things that so many people in our culture are lusting for, wanting [...] Let's say if Beyonce 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?
Whether or not Beyoncé is a feminist is up for debate, if only because what your definition of feminism may be different from the next woman's, and it may also be different from what Beyoncé defines as feminism, too.
If — by your sense of feminism — Beyoncé is not a feminist, okay. Fine. Don't listen to her for inspiration, and don't put her on your list of feminists. But if the idea of feminism is somewhat rooted in claiming oneself and making active choices about one's sexuality, then I put Beyoncé in the feminist camp. But if you feel that she is too wealthy to be a feminist or too outside of your bracket to relate to her, that's okay, too.
But is she a terrorist against feminism? I have to agree to disagree there.