Our understanding and reflection on 'Chapter 4 Selling hot pussy representations of black female sexuality in the cultural marketplace' in 'Black Looks: race and representation' by Bell Hooks.
Bell Hooks was born september 25th 1952. american author, feminist and activist. She has over 30 published books. 'Selling hot pussy' is a chapter which is primarily about how black females are being presented to the audience in popular culture and explores the possibilities of the relationship between this and early representations of black female sexuality within the binds of the american slave trade. She mainly focuses on Music acts and films as her media throughout this essay to make her comments and opinions.
Hooks provides us with the context and starting point for her arguments when she talks of the display of black females in 'civilised europe'. Especially the case of Sarah Bartmann, where she explains the examination that took place upon her and how she was presented to 'affirm racist notions that black people were more a kin with animals.' she then continues to move onto more contempory issues within the next few papragraphs and this is where she first introduces her first example of popular culture and how this shares a relationship with her Bartmann paragraphs, suggesting a comparative between the two examples.
A large section of this essay is her using pop act Tina Turner and others as an example of confirming her ideas. 'since black female sexuality has been represented in racist/sexist iconography as more free and liberated, many women singers, irrespective of the quality of their voices, have cultivated an image which suggests they are sexually available and licentious'. This is the idea we want to concentrate on in our presentation. Hooks portrays her own image of tina turner. ' Tina turners singing career has been based on the construction of an image of black female sexuality that is made synonymouns with wild animalistic lust' she places turner into a negative category, and she explains that tina turner has exploited herself in her career aswell as being exploited by other people. Hooks, blames this all on Ike turner(tina turners husband). Hooks says that this image that tina turner presents is construced by ike turner and that he 'Raped and Exploited' her in the context of it. Within all of her criticism and blame put onto ike turner she doesnt tell us the information that ike was struglling with a drug problem and was addicted. It doesnt warrant or provide an excuse for his behaviour or condone his actions but its still a valid point of informtaion she chooses to leave out in attempt for her arguments to seem more valid. She automatically puts ike turner into this category of misogynistic male without any other opinion considered. As much as hooks continues to explain that T.Turner presents this exploited false image of herself, isnt the issue not with race but of the fact that in this Capitalist consumer society, you will exploit yourself to sell yourself usually under the notions of sexuality. It strikes us with this essay that sexism and sexuality is more the issue and theme of the criticisms where as Hooks seems to mould them to fit the issue of race.
What do you think of this image?
Bell Hooks' opinion. Whiteness dominates the page, obscuring and erasing the possibility of any assertion of black power. Negating the possibility that this naked flesh could represent active female sexual agency white diaper like cloth reinforced the idea that this was a portrait of an adult female who wanted to be seen as childlike and innocent. Straight hair, produced and a commodity, purchased, affirms contemporary notions of female desirability as that which can be acquired
Cher: fashion, hairstyleDusty Springfield: music styleJanis Joplin : music styleJimi Hendrix: PerformanceOther examples of musical acts Bell Hooks did not mention. All influenced by some form of blackCulture these are performers who were active in the same time as Hooks' examples. Not mentioned because they might conflict with her ideas?
If we take the examples of the music acts who are female there is a running theme in their work,They are all singing songs which are based around this idea Hooks touches upon in her statementsAbout Aretha Franklin. The way in which she is 'challenging female victimisation' and 'challengingResistence'. We believe that a number of female artist of the time whether white or black were Reflecting in their work the same messages. Paving the way for more liberal ideas and feminist Thinking in the context of the 60s when there were big movements of left wing politics and activeAwareness from society especially the youth into a more free thinking world. This was all happeningAnd also setting up for the big hippy movements etc. we feel that it was more about women taking Power and control and standing up for their rights and challenging their constraints. We believe that its all very relative to the capitalist consumer culture which was blossoming at the Time, and onto the present we can be proved right in saying that you need to exploit yourself to sellYourself, or to make money. You need to find your unique selling point and exploit it, especially in Terms of Pop Music anyway and especially in this consumer environment.
An example of a a music act I'm not sure why Hooks didnt mention is Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix Was a black male who exploited himself and his talents. and to us, it seems very relevant to Hooks' arguments. Hendrix attracted a lot of attention from his very provocative dancing while playing, he Would demonstrate his instrument as if it was attatched to his body almost as a phallic like symbolAnd also more interest was created because he was a african american male. In essence he was Exploiting himself, to generate interest and fans which would equal money, profit and success. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YqT-Y636B0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz3CLtFypPsSome more recent examples of exploitation in popular culture:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wRjc2Qg-3Y
Conclusion: we find that this text touches on important issues but we believe that it is slightly bias. As much as we have been very critical of hooks' arguments we are not denying that the issuesShe raises dont exsist or havent played a big part in our cultural marketplace. We have simply Tried to briefly demonstrate our opinion on this essay. We have tried to reflect our analysisBased on the possibility that hooks has manipulated and constructed arguments to make themSeem more valid. It also strikes us that Hooks seems to use this platform to basically rant About the personal injustices she feels. We dont believe that this makes this piece of writing Invalid because she does construct a basis and awareness to the reader of exploitation withinRace and representation.