bell hooks on heterosexuality

Part 2 in a series of reflections. 

bell hooksFoucault was not alone in being troubled by current paradigms around sexual orientation. In a brief aside in her book Feminism from Margins to Center, author, feminist, and social activist bell hooks also critiques the current paradigm, but from a different angle.

hooks notes that by labeling a woman as a heterosexual, there is an implicit claim made that her body is open to any man who wishes to approach and use it sexually.

She suggests that rather than drawing up categories that open individuals of one half of humanity to the objectification of the other half, a better approach is to focus on individual attraction and choice.

Rather than bearing the label of heterosexual, a woman would choose a partner (or partners) with whom she enters into a sexual relationship. In a growth of consciousness around issues of sexuality, hooks also makes space for individual attractions to exist between women, a move that was not present in her first book Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism.

While not yet fully developed in this work, it's worth mentioning as an early move toward destabilizing monolithic paradigms that place people in large categories at the expense of ignoring or devaluing particularity of personal affective desires.

[Continue to David Halperin]

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