I think it is quite extraordinary that author bell hooks and TV host Bill O’Reilly, could possibly come down in the same place on the same issue, but apparently that is what happened. Both have come out and criticized Beyoncé for her negative affect on young black girls. Bill from the point of view of an “imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarch” and bell from the point of view of a radical black feminist. Bill accuses Beyoncé on his show, The O’Reilly Factor, on the Fox News Network, of providing a negative role model for black girls to follow with her so called libertine lyrics and sexual imagery in her videos and music which he says encourages black girls to engage in unprotected sex and by doing so become pregnant. bell calls out Beyoncé for perpetuating the stereotype of the young black woman who is always sexually available and asks the question, is she still a slave? She goes so far to say Beyoncé is an antifeminist terrorist. What gives? You know something is wrong when these two agree even if it’s for different reasons.
bell references the cover of Time Magazine by citing Beyoncé for wearing a white panties and bra set like what she used to wear when she was a young girl. It was actually a two piece bathing suit but it did have the intended illusion of looking like a white bra and panties and it was very sexy and provocative. Is it possible that Bill and bell cancel each other out? Or is it one of those you don’t get to make those kinds of criticisms unless you are one of us kind of things? I don’t know, but my head is spinning and about to explode.
I feel I must hazard a response and offer my opinion, such as it is. Full disclosure: I am a white male of a certain age. Now, I have a great deal of respect for bell hooks, but less so for Bill O’Reilly. I lost all respect for him years ago as he became the chief bloviator Fox News. I have read many of bell’s books, we are both from Kentucky, we share a name with each other, and I have actually met bell hooks, although I’m sure she probably wouldn’t remember. It was a few years ago, in Philadelphia, when I attended a lecture she gave and she was kind enough to autograph a book of hers I brought along for that purpose. It was a wonderful lecture and I remember thinking during the Q & A that she doesn’t much suffer fools. She was rather pointed with several of her questioners. But it was what you would expect from bell hooks.
I think bell has gone too far in describing Beyoncé an antifeminist terrorist and a slave. If anything Beyoncé is exploiting the slave mentality that still exists for her own personal gain. She demonstrates great personal agency in her creativity and has become rich in the process. bell asks the question, would we even be talking about her if she weren’t rich? Yes, I think so, because she is beautiful and talented, not to mention provocative.
Bill O’Reilly is off base with his comments because he is white and comes off sounding like a racist in the process. Actually, Beyoncé provides a positive role for black girls as an empowered, creative, talented, and successful black woman.
In my view there is nothing wrong with sexy or having sex. I need to take a long hard look in the mirror, however, at my own self to be sure my attraction to black women isn’t the product of my own master/slave mentality. I will have to give it some deep thought. Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy Beyoncé and other talented black sexy women. For the record, I am a Rihanna man.