Yesterday, The New School in New York City hosted a panel discussion with legendary Black feminist bell hooks, author and activist Janet Mock, filmmaker Shola Lynch and author Marci Blackman.
As per normal, when black women congregate, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter becomes the center of their conversation. As their discussion unfolded and developed, the Beygency was almost called to escort and erase the identity of bell hooks, as the author and professor made controversial statements about the “Flawless” singer in regards to her effect on young girls and visual media.
To start things off, the women spoke on Beyonce’s controversial TIME cover with the singer dressed in an undershirt and underwear, an image hooks said Beyonce has little control of.
“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. “
hooks continued on by stating Yonce “colluded in the construction of herself as a slave.” When the conversation shifted to Beyonce’s music, transgender activist Janet Mock explained Beyonce’s “Partition” song opened the door to her own sexual freedom, stating:
“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 countered Mocks’ beliefs by responding: “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.”
This political debate circles around Beyonce’s sexual and financial agency. By labeling the entertainer as a terrorist, hooks concludes Beyonce is attacking the economic, social and political advancement of young girls, pushing her stanch desire that Beyonce (and young women) choose images that do not reflect an elitist white class of people.
However, I believe the real problem lies in the over-saturation of expectations from Beyonce. With her recent feminist campaigns, we politicize the singer to a great extent. We’ve begun to hold the singer accountable to our own economical and sexual standards or lack thereof. By forgetting Beyonce was once in the same societal class as her fans, we only note her fame, sex appeal and riches. So perhaps, it is us who terrorize Beyonce with our own obsessive interest for her to be electrifying and yet, ordinary.
Below is the video, of the New School discussion that was surprisingly entitled: Are You Still A Slave?