What would I do to elaborate upon an article by Bell Hooks on feminism?

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We can take Bell Hooks' feminist article "Straightening Our Hair," published in Z Magazine (September 1988), as an illustration of how to elaborate upon a Hooks article. After having read and reread and thoroughly understood the article and Hooks' perspective on the subject, you can begin to ask questions of the text and, indirectly, of Hooks. These questions, even if you try but find no answers for them, will lead you to points upon which to elaborate [elaborate: To work out with care and detail; develop thoroughly; to express in greater detail (American Heritage Dictionary)].

To illustrate, we'll consider one of the concluding paragraphs where Hooks speaks of black women's reasons for and perception of straightening their hair.

Individual preferences (whether rooted in self-hate or not) cannot negate the reality that our collective obsession with straightening black hair reflects the psychology of oppression and the impact of racist colonization. Together racism and sexism daily reinforce to all black females via the media, advertizing, etc. that we will not be considered beautiful or desirable if we do not change ourselves, especially our hair. We cannot resist this socialization if we deny that white supremacy informs our efforts to construct self and identity.

To elaborate on this passage from Hooks' article, you might ask questions such as these:

  • What do individual white women unconsciously do to reinforce the perceptions of social and personal necessity in black women's choice to straighten their hair?
  • In what ways do white women and black women suffer oppression in the same or similar ways from white sexist patriarchal supremacy?
  • In what ways can white women and white women join in alliance to neutralize of defeat sexist and racist supremacy?

Your contemplations of these questions for this specific passage and similar types of probing questions as you read the whole article, can form the foundation of your elaboration. In addition, if you are grounded in the framework of sociological or psychological theory, you extend your examination of the Hooks text by analyzing it from the perspective of one of these theoretical frameworks.

A second feminist article you might consider is "Ain't She Still a Woman?" by Bell Hooks (who actually spells her name without capitalization: bell hooks), which was published in Shambhala Sun, January 1999, and is available online, as is "Straightening Our Hair." 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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