“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ― Alice Walker
Tuesday, November 5, 5:00-6:30pm
Beyond the Body?
A public dialogue between bell hooks + Eve Ensler
Tishman Auditorium, The New School
66 W 12th St
New York, NY 10011
I’ve not posted much this semester about our project and perhaps that has been good in that chaos lives in the beginning of anything new and not everything needs to be broadcast I have learned (the hard way). This is particularly a concern I have been pondering relative to black girls on YouTube–girls and women. The limitless audiences who see our thoughts, feelings, actions and beliefs, those audiences are not always aware of any historical context of our lived experiences nor are they willing to do that work in the current pace of entertainment-as-news or the sharing of must-see-TV and tweets that serves as a constant distraction to the extreme self care everyday people need to be attending to. But that is another blog post.
[NOTE: This is the first of three parts about the event. The last will feature the video itself so stay tuned.]
Q&A on hyper-sexualization
This post about a 1-1/2 minute video clip recorded with my iPhone. It was in response to the first question from the audience after an amazing dialogue at the New School between cultural critic bell hooks [who always spells her name in lower case] and V-day founder and Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler. I am in the process of editing the video and preparing to share it with my research assistants in my Black Girl You Tube Project course (aka ANT4800 Anthropological Analysis). The video will definitely be posted on YouTube so you can share. But first I transcribed the clip and wanted to share the text. Why? 1) Because I think that visual media has stolen or at least it’s dominating our critical thinking of late; and 2) Because it might serve as an experiment for you to notice and reclaim how reading is an equally engaging and transformative media of shared culture and visual culture to which I am returning.
Mine was the first question in the Q&A. Stepping to the microphone I announced myself as Kyra Gaunt, professor at Baruch College-CUNY and purposefully broadcast to the hundreds attending [see panorama view] that I was doing a project called the Black Girl YouTube project. Then I succinctly asked bell and Eve, “Could you speak to the hyper-sexualization of teen girls in our media today?”
The clip captures their amazing response which I have transcribed here:
0:00″ Eve Ensler: [I’ve been traveling around the world] in the States and in Paris, and I’ve just been around a lot of teenage girls looking at this kind of insane pressure of over…of [the] incredible sexualization that is happening, that is making them feel as if somehow they are empowered.
:20″ Eve: It’s this weird flip but which is actually…it’s kind of like a… disempowerment within an empowerment…façade.
:30″ Eve: Watching girls who are not actually inhabiting their bodies but inhabiting a performance idea of themselves which has been projected onto them by the media and
:40″ Eve: I look at it with my granddaughter who is 17. I look at it with teenagers all the time and I see this…it’s almost like you have to become this girl in order to be somebody in the world.
:53″ Eve: This very sexual, this very performative, and somebody who is not actually in your body, but announcing your body, or demonstrating your body or…
1:02″ bell hooks interjects: Or worse yet, Eve, offering your body…
Eve: [reiterates bell] offering your body
hooks [takes the stage and the proverbial mic]: … as a living sacrifice.
Eve [passes the space to bell; they swap positions with little tension]: Yes, that too.
1:06″ bell: I think that we are demanding of girls that they offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. And of course the sacrifice is to the institution of patriarchy. And the message to grown women is that if you won’t offer your body, we will take … the bodies…of daughters…and [1:28″] other people who have the unclaimed bodies. I mean the 27,000 kids. [end of clip]
Dr. Gaunt aka @kyraocity on Twitter.