Monday, October 19, 2009

bell hooks says "God is a feminist" to a college audience

[photo of bell hooks and the article below are from here]

Gender, race, media and hooks
Written by Betty Chaney - Life & Arts Editor
Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Behind the dark, heavy curtain, bell hooks sits in a metal folding chair before she took to the stage in Button Auditorium [at Morehead State University in Kentucky], Tuesday night.

“I describe myself, first and foremost, as a seeker on the path,” she says. “Really it’s spirituality that occurs at every aspect of my life. Writing is my divine calling and feminism is the political movement, the theory, and the practice that helped me to fully de-self-actualize,” she says.

Hooks was born in Hopkinsville and is now a professor at Berea College. Hooks says she does not capitalize her name.

“When the feminist movement first began, people were trying to get away from the ego and we were doing all this at a time where a lot of Westerners were looking to the East for a spiritual guidance,” she says. “There was so much, like, it’s not important who is speaking but what is being said.”

Hooks says she gave a lecture this year about whether or not God is a feminist.

“My answer was, of course, God is a feminist because if we accept that God is a god of love then we know that God fully intends for females and males to be self-actualized, self-empowered and full of self esteem,” she says.

The media has definitely has an impact on society, she says.

“You find yourself wanting something without knowing why you want it and then you remember you’ve been listening to a particular kind of commercial,” she says. “The media has a powerful influence. Part of what I speak on is how the media makes culture.”

Dr. Ann Andaloro, associate professor of communication and theatre and director of women’s studies, was excited about having hooks come to MSU.

“Hooks is a prolific writer and scholar,” she says. “We’ve been reading her work for years and now we get to hear her speak those words. I got e-mails from Amsterdam today asking me to pass messages on to her.”

One of hooks' ideas is how many elements are interconnected, Andaloro says.

“Feminism includes race and class,” she says. “It’s all interlinked. You can’t think about one without the other.”

Andaloro says she thinks hooks’s program will be good for the university.

“One of the university’s objectives is a diversity initiative, teaching and learning different factors,” she says. “A discussion of race here will help to enhance our campus.”

Hooks’ message would be really beneficial for students, Andaloro says.

“Students are here because they want to lean and understand the world around them,” she says. “It could be really important for students from a small community who maybe haven’t been exposed to race or race issues so much. It’s the importance of understanding equality.”

Junior Sharon-Marie Boggs attended the event as a requirement for a class.

“My professor said there would be stuff on the next exam that would come from hooks’ speech,” she says.

Boggs says she found the event surprising.

“It wasn’t what I thought it would be,” she says. “I was afraid it would be this dry, droning thing but it wasn’t. I thought hooks was a very good speaker. She kept the audience interested and motivated. She made it humorous while touching on real issues at the same time.”

“I thought she hit a lot of good points, like the thing about Obamas,” she says. “I like the Obamas. I just never realized what he said about whether or not Michelle will be consulted for her opinions. He can be very patriarchal.”

Another MSU junior, Cody Mitchell, was also in the audience.

“It was a very informative and moving speech by a Kentucky native,” he says. “It’s always important to hear from Kentucky natives, especially a world-renowned one, because Kentuckians are typically portrayed in a negative light, typically as being ignorant.”

The criminology major says he attended for two reasons.

“I was interested in the topic,” he says. “I’m taking several classes on race, gender, and equality and it flowed with those classes.”

Mitchell says he did learn an important lesson in the time he sat in the auditorium.

“You have to be careful of what you see and watch on television because it can be dangerous in a sociological way,” he says. “A seemingly innocent report could portray women or any minority group in a negative light.”

Hooks says there is one important thing she hopes sticks with her audience.

“I would like for folks to take away the importance of critical thinking and the importance of learning how to love because if you’re not able to love ourselves and others then you can’t have healthy self esteem or anything,” she says.



  1. Ok... I wasn't able to get through this fully... I was just angry at hooks for saying "god" (meaning the christian god) is a feminist.

    I have a great many issues with her, like her saying men can be feminists... I mean i guess the poo I took yesterday could ALSO be a feminist to her. (being really sarcastic and jerkish about this intentionally)

    When we just call any and everything "feminist" it completely dilutes the water here! So now the Christian god is a feminist? The same god who inspired MEN to mandate that women be reduced to subservient positions within the church? The same supposedly omnipotent fairy who sees all, hears all, knows all and yet has done NOTHING to stop the all out carnage against women? The same god who genocided the earth TWICE, by water and fire, is a feminist?

    Um, bell… sista, love you but you’re so wrong.

  2. Loved it. Bell hooks was one of those who's words liberated me. A woman, of "colour" pointing out on actualities must be labeled "angry" (compare with the portrayal of Bernaditas de Catro Muller, the fillipino climate negotiator who was excluded from the COP15 after pressure from the US).

    I wish I could have tea and chat with her once a week.