Noted critical race thinker bell hooks is no stranger to letting people know that she doesn't exactly see it for Beyoncé. Two years ago, while speaking on a panel at The New School titled "Are You Still A Slave: Liberating the Black Female Body," hooks accused Beyoncé of being a cultural "terrorist" when it came to the influence she had on young black girls.
At the time, hooks was responding to her friend and fellow panelist Janet Mock, a trans woman, who'd opened their discussion of Beyoncé's 2014 TIME magazine cover recalling how Destiny's Child had played a pivotal role in the formation of her identity as a young black woman. Beyoncé's self-titled album, Mock elaborated, continued to influence her in similar ways.
"Having Partition come out in December a couple of months before my book came out—I'm writing about sex work and sexual abuse and issues with my body and my sexuality," Mock said. "It was freeing to have Beyoncé showing her ass and owning her body and claiming that space."
That particular conversation ended with Mock and hooks agreeing to disagree. Yesterday, though, three weeks after Lemonade's release, hooks published yet another damning critique of Beyoncé's particular brand of feminism.
"It is the broad scope of Lemonade’s visual landscape that makes it so distinctive—the construction of a powerfully symbolic black female sisterhood that resists invisibility, that refuses to be silent," hooks argues. "However, this radical repositioning of black female images does not truly overshadow or change conventional sexist constructions of black female identity."
It didn't take long for the Beyhive to come for hooks in droves, but the most poignant response to hooks' essay came in the form of a tweetstorm from Mock. The problem with hooks' perspective, Mock posited, was that it was firmly grounded in the dismissal of feminists who present themselves in more traditionally feminine modes.
"I hold bell hooks close. We are friends and have consistently disagreed privately and publicly about many topics like most friends do," Mock began. "Our disagreements about Beyonce are on record so let's move beyond bell vs Beyonce and discuss the dismissal of black femme feminists."