“‘Turning from teaching to topical subjects like gangsta rap, censorship, date rape and Hollywood cinema, these 21 essays will enhance City College professor and political activist hooks’s (Black Looks) reputation as an astute, vigorous and freewheeling critic on matters of race, class and gender. The underlying focus in many of these short, occasional pieces (many are reprinted from magazines like Spin and Art in America) is on how some groups, particularly women of color, are marginalized both in daily life and in the cultural wars over media representations and the academic curriculum. [….]’”
“According to the Washington Post, no one who cares about contemporary African-American cultures can ignore bell hooks’ electrifying feminist explorations.” – Amazon description
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
bell hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation’s leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader’s 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of more than seventeen books.
bio, quotes, pulled from Amazon
I didn’t realize I named this blog after a famous Arvo Pärt composition. But I did. Enjoy.
What is it and why it ends up hurting everyone
OMG (semi)comic relief:
Related article on labeling men “Creepy”…:
One awesome man’s blog post (I’ve excerpted the top 10, definitely read the whole amazing post here):
So here are 10 simple ways that men can combat sexist entitlement in public:
1. Don’t Act Like the World is Your Living Room, and Call Out Men Who Do
2. Using Your Voice: Step Up and Step Back
3. Work to End Street Harassment
4. Refuse to Use Sexist Language, and Call Out Men Who Do
5. Keep Your Clothes On
6. Be Publicly Trans*-Inclusive
7. Demonstrate Clear Consent
8. Strive to Be an Ally to Women in Social Spaces
9. Talk About Male Entitlement with Other Men
10. Talk to Boys and Young Men About Male Entitlement in Age-Appropriate Ways
What’s the best way to end male sexist entitlement?
Keep it from spreading to the next generation!”
Excerpted from Jamie Utt’s fantastic blog post:
I’ve come up against quite a few moments requiring courage lately.
Nothing so violent or criminal as this courageous young woman, but courageous nonetheless.
Since deciding to not let my comfort level be sacrificed (or perhaps, more aptly: be eviscerated) to male preference for silence on my discomfort, I’ve had some confrontations so urgency-inducing that I heard my heart in my ears and I couldn’t quite see clearly.
In short: standing up for yourself is not easy, and standing up for yourself in the face of massive societal cluelessness is often completely terrifying. It is terrifying because it goes against everything we’re taught.
I’ve always been a nice, confident, self-effacing person. Recently I am a friendly, interested, confident, vocally dissenting, respectful person, capable of being wrong, and committed to no longer being generically nice or self-effacing. And when something happened today that required me to raise my voice and speak my utter discomfort in the situation and it was probably THE boldest I have been, to date. And THE most terrifying. Because, I had everything to lose, even though I was absolutely in the right.
I have been on adrenaline for two weeks since I became the above person and decided to call Bullshit when I see Bullshit. When not feeling immediately threatened, I am of the conviction that the more direct, clear, respectful, human, and redeeming the interaction can be, the more likely thoughtful, respectful change can take place. This was not the case on the street recently but generally I work under this philosophy.
Firm, accurate descriptions of the transgression and how it makes you feel are key. I’ve found men are usually floored when I say: “I feel uncomfortable when you do that.” Many times they (many of them friends and work colleagues) are surprised by my unequivocal directness, and after initial fluster, seem to reflect on how their action is impacting me. Their action having emotional impact on the women/woman around them hadn’t even been considered. Sexism is so deeply ingrained it is indeed usually unconscious. Not always, but often.
In addition to, “It makes me feel uncomfortable,” I have also started saying point blank, “I feel bullied” when verbally dismissed, threatened, or mocked for upsetting a man’s comfort level, upsetting his state of “coasting along in unaware bliss.”
And, “I feel like you’re trying to discredit my voice and I’m not okay with that” when being talked down at.
I have been working on not justifying my emotion, which is a common tendency for a lot of women, myself included. The justification just isn’t needed. You don’t owe an explanation or need to be apologetic for a feeling. I will certainly state clearly WHY I feel that way, what he has done specifically to make me feel bad. But no bonus explanations, apologies, or saying “It’s ok” when, actually, it’s totally not.
I am working hard on being concise in my “I feel” statements, so the depth of my discomfort is both heard and felt.
These have been very instructive, important weeks. My gratitude to anyone who has encountered my assertiveness and has responded with concern for my feelings. I do everything I can to honor you while expressing my concerns, so responding honorably back is deeply heard and felt and acknowledged.
This Radiolab story raises a lot of concerns about women’s voices and courage.
(Note: That’s not how Radiolab frames it, but I think you can’t ignore that the tale is about two women encountering when to speak up. It’s an interesting topic, since lack of voice for women is generally assumed, and even when we say “I’m not sexist, women can share their voices, and stand up for themselves”, we sometimes unknowingly act in ways that demonstrate we all still hold residual beliefs that women’s voices are threatening or don’t count as much as men’s voices.)
This episode is about being nice, being apathetic, being assertive, being brave, being too brave, and being angry. The exchange involves two women, and a crucial encounter that forced the nice one to think about what putting your foot down can mean, including how can drawing lines be mutually beneficial and an act of expressing concern for the other.
The courage involved in making your voice heard is tremendous. Don’t think for a minute it doesn’t matter. It does. It changes the lives of everyone who runs into you. And if we all do that, imagine the courageous, exponential shift towards something better, more personal, more equitable.
I would like to close this post with recommended reading.
I am not affiliated with either person, I just thought the 30 days of Courage guide was a useful resource to know about and an potentially impactful way to jump start action towards a more courageous life.
My thoughts on the term SEX CRIME.
*possible TRIGGER WARNING* *swear words also ahead*
I am recently leaning towards calling rape simply “sex crime.”
Rape has a “boys will be boys” connotation — think Rape of Europa (glorified gang rape), etc. “This is just the silly stuff men do to be jerks, we make paintings about it, sculptures about it, it has artistic merit!”
I’m a professional painter and I’m not pro-censorship. But I intimately understand the power of images and expression. I will bet you a case of craft beer that rape being treated as a “muse” definitely contributes to normalizing it, aestheticizing it, and proliferating its tacit approval — which includes defending men with “boys will be boys” statements as a prime example.
However, sex crimes, as a term and as a legally defined transgressive act, are the opposite of silly, artistic, laudable, normal, approvable.
In the same way we rightly disapprove of images that condone racism (Black Face, KKK photos, Nazi symbols, burning other people’s flags, etc), we must place moral judgement on aesthticising rape and using a term that is historically sorta lighthearted and every day seems to be treated with less and less weight in the media. It gets tossed around like nothing these days. Which, I think is a HUGE problem.
However I think we can be clear that giving guys a free pass for having a penis and doing whatever they want with it is officially unacceptable and is indeed, illegal and a crime punishable by law.
Sex crimes (rapes) are criminal, inhumane, and a human rights violation. By underscoring the criminal aspect of sticking your penis someplace where it wasn’t invited (yes, penis proximity has to be enthusiastically invited for it not to be a sex crime) I think can change how we think about these criminal transgressions. It can shift the conversation to the place of CRIME, a place we already unequivocally understand as bad. Crime is bad: Crimes include hate crimes, discriminatory practices based on disability, race, sex or age (age is curious because it is riddled with double standards), robbery, murder, mass shootings, etc.
So, I am going to start calling rape a sex crime. It feels more weighty and accurate. And like something you really don’t want to commit.
If this resonates with you, I encourage you to start calling rape “sex crime,” and, to pass it on. Language matters. Let’s shift this rape-haha shit, stat.