Talking Back by Bell Hooks
- Pages: 3
- Word count: 639
- Category: Women
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The essay that I selected is Talking Back by Bell Hooks who is a famous African-American feminist writer. In this essay she traces down her development as a writer and explores her learning about the various manifestations of speech through non-conformist socialization process.
She starts the essay with the introduction various terminologies pertaining to speech that denote various facets of speech in the black community of South. She illustrates that speaking on equal terms to elder or to higher authority was regarded as a impertinent and was labeled as “talking back” whereas “old schools” symbolizes the behavior of old folks to ignore children as speakers.
So Bell Hooks says that in this conventional society, speaking was a daring act but there were certain other available channels where women and girls were indulged in every sort of speech. This channel was the boundaries of home where women used to speak. The richness of speech carved out in her a desire to speak and compelled her to have a voice in the affairs of life. The methodology she adopted to develop her speaking was to entangle herself with old folks without the fears of punishments. She further describes the gender discrimination as a hindrance in her way as she says, “Had I been a boy, they might have encouraged me to speak believing that I might someday be called to preach”. But her ability to speak was suppressed in order to inculcate a “right speech of womanhood”.
Right speech of womanhood was an unnoticed and unheard communication of women where as the possibility of dialogues for women was almost non-existent. Bell Hooks labels this right speech of women as background music as women were not allowed to participate in mainstream talks so they were limited to “giving orders, making threats and fussing”. They were further habitual to speak within their own female community and this speech used to be intimate and intense.
In this situation, Hooks found expression in writing but she received harsh criticism from her own community i.e. female intimates, who regarded these writings as acts of insolence. She says that she developed a habit of writing in order to express that cannot do in speaking and she used to hide her writing. She was ridiculed by her own sisters and other intimate female members of her community when this secret of writing was disclosed.
So Bell Hooks says that despite suffering from mental and psychological agonies, she never gave up and her passion to speak and write increased. In this respect she provides the speculations of a psychoanalyst, Alice Miller who is of the view that although it not easy to comprehend but it is a fact that impediment and psychological suffering enhances ones ability to grow. Same happened with Hooks. She further provides an exam-le from her own life that when his first books “Ain’t I a Woman” was published, she suffered from harsh comments but this did not subdue her passion to write and express her own ideas. At the end, she provides the reasons that why she selected Bell Hooks as her pen name.
Overall, Hooks present her ideas in a logical manner. Her technique is to justify his arguments on speculations from common life and she does not construct her thesis on complex philosophical arguments. Her ideas are universal and have relevance in the life of every one as each of us is suppressed in one way or other. This does not mean that we should sacrifice our ideas on the altar of ground realities and conventions of the society.
 Bell Hooks is the pseudonym of Gloria Watkins. In the end if this essay, she explains that why she adopted this name as her pen name.