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Laverne Cox blasted by feminist icon, bell hooks

Laverne Cox & Bell Hooks - Cover

Laverne Cox has become a new-age feminist and transgender activist of our time, winning over fans across the board for her role on “Orange Isthe New Black” as much as her work for transgender rights. But just because she’s beloved by many doesn’t mean that Cox isn’t without critics, and one of those critics of hers is feminist icon bell hooks.

Last week, the two public figures sat down together for a panel at The New School in New York, where they discussed issues of feminism and identity.

Although Cox and Hooks praised each other for their respective work, with hooks calling Cox a “goddess for justice,” hooks avoided letting their meeting turn into a “love feast” and, respectfully, criticized Cox for her stereotypically “feminine” look of heels and blonde wigs.

However, Cox defended herself, saying, “This is where I feel empowered, ironically, and comfortable. I think it’s important to note that not all trans women are embracing this, but this trans woman does. And this trans woman feels empowered by this.”

Cox recognized that there is a struggle for women to conform to new and realistic standards of beauty or to the traditional way that beauty is shaped by “imperialist white supremacist patriarchy.” But when she asked the crowd, “Am I feeding into the patriarchal gaze with my blonde wig,” hooks quickly answered “Yes.”

Although the two women reassured that they had respect for each other, hooks took the conversation to a broader level and suggested that when black celebrities and role models wear “white” hair styles, it “may be sending a message to somebody younger that ‘I must be self-hating.’ ”

Indeed, it’s an interesting topic to explore and there’s definitely something to be said about both sides of the argument, especially since the way celebrities dress has a direct effect on the identities and self-esteem of our youth. Hopefully, through both of their work, these two women and others like them can help open up the ideas of beauty beyond the sometimes damaging stereotypical ideas we seem to be stuck on. –nicholas robinson


46 Comments

  1. Haily on October 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Do you know how meny white woman are fake blondes??? Is that self hate ??? people of color need to do research & stop thinking n a bubble because it sound inaccurate to exclude white woman & other nationalities n this debate. A red head Irish woman bleaches her hair to achieve a different look maybe she tired of the same old does things to themselves it doesn’t send out a bad message to young black girls if they see Beyonce or Hannah Montana have blonde hair. I work with a black girl with natural hair who was adopted by white people she has yet to come to work with a blonde wig she wears her hair natural. It’s what u the individual feels comfortable in.

    • Velvet Jones on October 13, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      You seem to selectively ignore to broader and obvious issue here. ONLY African Americans were institutionally, systematically & intentionally robbed of our names, robbed of our self-images, lost of our religion, our culture, our GOD and many of us–by the way we act–even lost our minds! We were, feed negative black images as opposed to the European images of beauty and purity. It has affected our children and ourselves. Your answer is indicative of the ignorance and understanding of the very diaspora that has diluted the African/Black contribution to. World society and culture at large. That ignorance–which has manifested a subliminal self hate amongst us–was intentional and diabolical in its origins: to make the African slave less than human, believing only in the supremacy of their white masters. This has not been cured in generations and it’s, many times at the roots of several of our problems as a people.

      So when you casually, compare a white woman’s choice of hair color and her freedom of mind to do so, with the possibly unrecognized, subliminal and culturally abused unconscious choice of our sisters to have the unnatural color of our own race, some of us more conscious sisters and brother do see a problem. ((Dropping the muthaf*ckin’ mic, exit stage left!!))

      • Sara on April 12, 2015 at 8:31 pm

        Why so much contempt for another person’s choice of appearance? I don’t get it. If a black woman wants to have blonde hair, that’s her choice. She’s beautiful however she CHOOSES to wear her hair, dress, or wear her makeup. Telling a black woman that she’s in the wrong for wearing her hair a certain way is just as bad as telling a black woman she’s in the wrong for wearing her hair naturally. It’s the SAME thing. Either way, you’re telling the woman that she’s in the wrong for wearing her hair the way she chooses to wear it. In my opinion, it’s just another example of the human race trying to be higher and mightier than one another.

      • Jessica on April 13, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        Although I agree with your overall statement, I feel it is important to express that African Americans were NOT the only people treated that way. African American people tend to forget the Native Americans were treated the same way. They were even marked as slaves and were on plantations, they were listed in the government documents as “mulatto slave.” The only reason there were more African American slaves than Native American slaves was because African Americans at the time had a better developed immune system when it came to European illnesses. Even today schools that are primarily Native American get less funding than schools that are primarily African American. Per 100,000 people killed by law enforcement (by ethnicity) there is only a .1 person difference between African American and Native American. Meaning there one African American person killed by the police than Native American on a scale of one million. I understand that African Americans were treated horribly, but so were Native Americans. However, they are still kept out of the media, the press, our entertainment industry, mocked as mascots, etc. Hell, unless you grew up on a reservation, there are states that require you submit a genealogy report/or DNA test to claim your heritage on government forms.

        Also, it is not exactly fair for you to call her out on stating her opinion. She very well could not have been thinking about the full ramifications of her statement or she could not know. Just like the African American community didn’t think about the ramifications of starting “Savage” as a new slang. That’s the Native American equivalent to the n-word. But, the press didn’t discuss that, nobody paid any attention to the Native American community being offended.

        • shelly on April 13, 2015 at 9:54 pm

          Wtf? Nobody forgets native americans… even the most notable african american leaders point out the history. I know he details by heart: 100 million genocide. I know histories of individual ethnic groups and so do many. You are making a crazy assumption here and that is foolish

      • kevin15776 on April 18, 2015 at 10:25 am

        Wow, such drama! YOU were not personally robbed of anything. If you were born here in the US you are in the TOP 1% of the world population as far as access to education, clean water, food, rights to life, liberty, property, etc and yet you push this victim BS. Grow the F*CK up and live a life that makes YOU happy.

        • B. Kennedy on June 9, 2015 at 2:53 am

          your statistics are completely wrong! the MAJORITY of the world lives in freedom and has access the very same things except in some countries everything you mentioned is FREE! and the us ranks in the bottom 50% in education and has one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

          • kevin15776 on July 23, 2015 at 6:24 am

            Free???? Tell me more about how it’s “free”!! Educate me please.



      • B. Kennedy on June 9, 2015 at 2:49 am

        but very conscious sisters and brothers understand that internalized racism is significantly more than a box clairol. we understand that even in africa our hair textures and colors varied among our people. (s/n: did you know that africans were straightening their hair long before blacks in america??? probably not because that would dismantle the “trying to be white” argument.) anyway….we also understand that we now exist between multiple cultures and that which one group considers a sign of internalized racism is actually nothing more than self-expression. you see internalized racism is WAY more than hair…..but let’s focus on hair because it’s a great distraction from the manifested behaviors of internalized racism in the form of colorism. but yeah….let’s argue the politics of hair…..i forgot to drop the mic and exit the stage. LOL

    • butterbeanbabe on October 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      so what if she dont come to school with a blonde wig may be she know thats pushing the envelope .. some girls are holding on to that one peice of self worth left after grown men on the net pickingup on them shooting them penis pictures ., grown men treating them like 22 yo whores , permed hair to the point of ball headed and having to wear fuck up weaves…. and other issues facing black women ..who care bout white women they can grow hair … and they dont mind dying their hair to get the attention they want . .. their children dont judge them and monitor after them .. its rare .. young black kids are more impressionable boys to black kids are becomeing target by these hair companies selling perms and stores like HM SELLING DEMEANING CLOTHING , AND FOREVER 21 TO MARKETING CLUB OUT FITTS FOR 22 YO TO 14 yo girls .. HOW BOUT THAT ?/?? THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT THAT ITS ABOUT A BIG FOOT MAN .. WITH HUGH LIPS TRYING TO POSS AS ANGIE MOMA IN DRAGG ..
      im sure some see laverne cox as comical and worthy of a JOKE AROUND THE WORK PLACE BREAK ROOM FINE … BUT I SEE HIM AS A THREAT TO BLACK WOMAN WHO SUFFER ALREADY FROM PUT DOWN FROM OTHER RACES ABOUT OUR BODYS AND HAIR … HE WEARS EVERYTHING A DRAG QUEEEN WEARS .. .AND SOME GAY DUDE UP THERE IN POWER DECIDED IT WAS FINNNNE FOR HIM TO GET ONE OF THE HIGHEST ACHIEVMENT .. real black woman work all their lives for ..its one thing to award a nobody but to award a nobody with mental issues called GAY IS SAD AND PATHETIC

      • Terry E. Christian on April 12, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        Being transgender is not a “mental issue.” It is a birth defect.
        Evidently your education about LGBT issues is as primitive as your spelling and grammar are.
        Real feminism allows women to express themselves however they choose. Some choose to wear comfortable clothing or “natural” hair; others prefer a more stereotypically feminine look and hairstyle. There is room for all forms of expression in authentic feminism.

        • Brian Leslie on April 13, 2015 at 12:03 am

          I know you mean well, but please don’t call trans a defect. We are what we are.

          • Terry E. Christian on April 13, 2015 at 7:09 am

            My apologies. I meant it in the sense that gender dysphoria is a defect that is subsequently corrected. I was not implying that anything is wrong or defective about the individual. Quite the opposite actually! 🙂



          • Skabb15 on February 27, 2016 at 12:02 am

            Youre a sad and misinformed person



          • Brian Leslie on February 27, 2016 at 3:57 am

            My point is that historically, first nation states have bestowed special status to trans people. For some reason, we have a knack for the shamanic, which is advantageous in societies that are closely allied with the earth.

            Um, Skabb15, thanks for sharing that oh so informative comment. I’m going to go back to dissertating now to share my sadness and misinformation with people who actually understand what those two words mean.



          • anono on June 15, 2016 at 8:04 pm

            So an individual is “misinformed” about him/herself? Classic!

            See you in the funny papers.



    • northernTNT on July 11, 2015 at 2:48 am

      YES white fake blonds are self-hating. The patriarchy tells all females to be skinny white blond obedient bitches. We either buy into the self hate, or we resist.

      • Schultz the flaming flaggot on August 21, 2015 at 2:14 am

        Buy into this, *asphyxiate* yourself, TERF, and take Cathy Brennan with you.

        NB. TERFs tend to love using male names [northernTNT is gender neutral although many may *assume* you’re male]
        I think it has something to do with their abject hatred of femininity.
        It’s really difficult to tell the difference between a transphobic “political lesbian” and a transphobic misogynist social conservative (male).

  2. Haily on October 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Apologies to the run on sentences, iPhone was acting up on me.

    • Velvet Jones on October 13, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      To hell with the run-on sentences. It the pathetic and consciously ignorant content that was offensive. And believe me sister, I’m not discounting your choice to have blond hair, thin your lips, bleach your skin or perm & process your hair. Just tying to hip you to the origins and potentially dangerous long term self-esteem issues that are sometimes obvious with those choices. If you make them, do so with a conscious mind, dig?

      • Haily on October 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm

        You live n the past, & your over thinking it. Tyra banks said some real shit we all gonna look similar n far future anyway with everyone dating everyone, shit today black people people of color actually have natraul blonde hair. Why because we already have european genes. Shit I’m black & Puerto Rican but I have a a natural reddish brown hair color, that color don’t come from my Spanish side!!! It comes from my black side!!! Witch has irish somewhere down the line. Black people are just as diverse as white people nowadays, from eye color to hair. Your argument isn’t valid, not with all these mixed baby’s who are african american running around. See how its the same if a white woman wants to switch her hair color up. A can be choice we’ve come far enough to where we as a people can have the choice to do whatever tf we want too. be natural or dye it. What now if a black person wants to dye there hair black they tryna be Chinese cos they are the only culture with jet black hair yea your the one sounding ignant hunny bun.

        • Velvet Jones on October 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm

          Living in the past…??? Your corresponding statements explains the degree of your ignorance and apathy. it’s unfortunate my sister.

    • butterbeanbabe on October 13, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      YES YOUR POINT IS BRILLIANT .. people dont understand thsi issue is bigger than lavern cox .whom is an apitemy of an inside joke some white power player pulled .. they whites will do anything to deplore us as a whole .. we dont get it some of us even thing lavern cox is no threat to anyone not true she .he is actualy a hugh threat we have young impressive children . . and we have to account for everything they see on tv … no white man is gonna dress in drake unless its a movie roll and once hes done .. hes back to normal .. cause its a job .. but cox situaltion is a true slapp in the face the whte owned networks are saying NOT ONLY ARE WE NOT GONNA GIVE THE 40 SISTERS IN LINE FOR THESE ROLES A ROLE TO ACT IN THESE SHOWS WE ARE ALSO GONNA HIRE A UNKNOW PERSON WHOM IS A MAN AND OFFEND BLACK PEOPLE TO THE MAXX .. MEN TO ARE OUTRAGED AT LAVERN COX ROLES .. ITS OK IF HE WAS GONNNA PLAY A GAY MAN IN THIS .. SHOW BUT TO MAKE HIM A REALITY AND BRING HIM OUT AS SOME TYPE OF STAR .. CAUSE HE IS TRANSGENDER IS RUDE AND HARMFUL .. PEROD

      • KB01191978 on October 22, 2014 at 2:45 am

        Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhymes, Martin Lawrence, and Tyler Perry started this sh!t by making folks think that it is ok for black men to parade around in dresses. Just because caucasians (cauc= dead asians) or other ethnic groups with straight hair do sh!t does not make it ok for us to do the same. We are unique for a reason, but so many people forget WE are the ONLY beings with kinky coils. The truth is out there, but it is NOT in that holy bible that was written by a satanist from Europe their god=dog (they love dogs more than hu(e)mans or mankind (themselves). That book is full of contradictions and outright lies. The description of their god does not match the picture they plaster everywhere. Keep calling yourselves christians (cretins) and saying that you are blessed (cursed). You may want to do your research because WE as celestial beings have been brainwashed. We have been so brainwashed that they have some of us thinking we evolved from a damn ape. The hair on an ape is NOT kinky, hmmmm. Sounds like some bullsh!t to me. Malcolm X dropped plenty of knowledge such as, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us”. Look up November 25, 1491 and if you still celebrate that day and eat damn TURKey (or any of that poisoned meat that messes with your melanin- our ancestors lived off of the land- fruit, vegetables, and water will get your melanin right) after you find out the truth, you deserve everything you get. Christopher Columbus called the AmEricans Turks, NOT Indians. Last time I checked Indians came from India. Do NOT take my word for it, do your research and learn where WE really come from, who WE really are, and what OUR future will be. Our knowledge comes from within and is in our kinky coils. You can continue do live like the people who only have 15% of melanin and you will perish with them because when you are living on the upper vibrations and your melanin is high you can handle what is coming. The clues are all around you, who can handle heat and who cannot handle it?

  3. Truit on October 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Is it just me, but ain’t that a man, maaan?? LOL

    • Janeben on January 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      It sure is. Looks like one too.

  4. butterbeanbabe on October 13, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    TRUST ME THIS IS PSCHOTIC ON THE BEHALF OF ANYONE WHO THINKS A MAN IN DRAGG SHOULD BET HE SYMBOL IN AMERICAN FOR OUR YOUNG GIRLS ALREADY STUGGLIN WITH .. isssues of growing into a woman .. STOP THE GD MADNESS
    ALL THESE gay men running all these news publications are sticking lavern cocks YES COCKS .. up in our face like its a long slob on a knob for freaks .. im sick of this sh..t
    first off we are FEMINIST HE IS NOT FEMINE SO HE COULDNT BE FEMINIST .. HES A MAN WITH EMOTIONAL IDENTITITY ISSUES .and just cause gays are somewhat accepted dont mean they are gonnna be taking over a whole gender of proud females .. proud to be female . ..NO MAN SHE …. OR SHE MAN

    STOP THE GD SILLY GAMES YALL PLAY WITH COX COCK .. .he wanna be a woman cut off your penis and give it to YOU KNOW WHO YOUR UGLY PUG FACE FREAK
    if he think a woman that look like him is beautiful he is twisted and so is the freaks that KEEP FORCE FEEDING HIM TO THE POINT OF MAKING HIM FAMOUS … DESTROYING ALL INTEGRITY OF OUR CHILDREN …. what do you tell your kids ? about a man who wants to be a woman ?

    • Velvet Jones on October 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Buttabeanbabe, I have to agree with you 100%on this one. To hell with the kumbiya politically correct BS! THIS SH*t is insane!!!!

    • Terry E. Christian on April 12, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      Gay and transgender are two completely different things. One is a matter of orientation; the other of gender.
      Educate yourself on LGBT issues so that you don’t come across on social media as an insensitive know-nothing.

      • Zoe_Brain on April 17, 2015 at 6:41 am

        britishrose is just being herself. Bigoted, ignorant and illiterate. It’s who she is, her core identity. So she shouldn’t be criticised for that.

        It’s not that she “comes across” as being an insensitive know-nothing. What you see is what you get, she *is* a crass, insensitive know-nothing, and proud of it.

        No-one with an IQ over 60 could confuse gender identity with sexual orientation, seeing there’s so many gay as well as straight trans men, and lesbian and straight trans women. It’s a deliberate choice she’s made. So please don’t confuse her honesty for pretense.

    • Truth on June 10, 2015 at 12:33 am

      THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR STATEMENT REAL TRUTH

  5. Likewaterforchoc on October 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

    See photos of LaVerne Cox from her “I Want to Work for Diddy” days and also look at her twin brother. She has bleached her skin about 10 shades lighter. In a broader sense, she is really the epitome of self-hate. She hated the gender she was “assigned” at birth and she hated the color of her skin.

    I do not wear blonde wigs, but I DO wear heels and I do not place any sense of empowerment in them. I feel empowered in flip flops as well. Laverne Cox may be a symbol for the LGBT community, I really do not consider her a feminist at all because she has made it her life’s work to “transition” into someone else.

  6. pinky on January 5, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Forget about black self hate. this dudes is waaaaaay past that. He hates his own chromosomes! He hates his own wee wee! HE IS A BLACK MAN AND WILL ALWAYS BE! I never thought I’d see the day, a black man would want the false glory of A WHITE WOMAN! racism has snowballed into ugly predicaments like these! SHAME ON THIS NATION. just because you like pink, you want gigantic boobs, and you feel “empowered” when you’re cat called by some creep, doesn’t make you a woman. If that is the embodiment of a woman in anyone’s mind, I as and ACTUAL woman, am BEYOND offended. These tranny “women” have no idea, how much of a sexist MAN they really are. JUST GO BE GAY, AND LEAVE MY GENDER IDENTITY OUT OF IT. YOU ARE NOT APART OF MY SISTERHOOD!!

  7. Joshua on April 12, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0Fv9yZenAY
    sometimes i want them to “TRY ME”

  8. Joshua on April 12, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBeIaUvw4-E
    sometimes you gotta show some “payback”

  9. helene on April 12, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Is that feminism? criticizing a trans woman on her LOOK? What is the size of heel that is all right to feminists? Why is the color of lipsticks? And wearing a bra is or is not feminist? Can’t you imagine the color of hair being a game? Its not how you look thats counts its what you do…

  10. Mancheeze on April 12, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    the stereotypical blonde who makes men happy in violent porn. Yes bell hooks was correct, as usual.

  11. Lolly on April 13, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    I think you mean “unrealistic standards of beauty.”

  12. Dee Dee B on April 20, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Ludacris discussion from the ONSET.. how is a burly MAN with a blond wig and heels going to sit there “posing” as a woman.. He has NO idea what its like to be a woman because he IS NOT one. reminds me of a white person trying to tell us what the Black experience is

  13. Ringo Starrk on April 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    She’s such a waste of time,,,,all about the vanity and absolutely no substance…find a new role model and dump this over hyped kundt!

  14. Amai Zackery on June 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    I have several things things to add. One: fuck this whitewashed feminist iron hooks bullshit. I am so sick of white women telling us black women and other women of color what is impressionable/not impressionable among our youth. We should be able to wear whatever hairstyles we please and also, wearing blonde wigs sometimes has a lot to do with Eurocentric beauty standards we are brought up with from the time we’re young. It’s not “self-hate” it’s assimilation. It’s funny because the moment a black woman wears her hair naturally and in cornrows or braids, everybody is so quick to call her “ghetto” and “ratchet.” It’s like we can’t do anything right. My second point: Lavern Cox is a fucking WOMAN. I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone else says: GENITALS DO NOT DEFINE GENDER. She is a threat to absolutely no one but whitewashed feminism which I’m very grateful for because it’s about damn time the mainstream white feminist women broaden the spectrum and focus on every type of woman other than white, straight, and cisgender. Our youth should look up to people like her actually. They should know it’s completely ok and normal to identify outside of society’s strict gender binary. Really all the binary does is give everyone incredibly high misogynistic standards that damage practically every aspect of society. Let people be who they want. Gender is spirituality not anatomy.

    • KB01191978 on June 10, 2015 at 3:42 am

      Feminism was never and never will be meant for women of color, we were and are just used for numbers. Feminism began out of pure hatred by women who were pissed because black men were given the right to vote, while caucasian women were not. Women of color will always be singled out and put down for our bodies, lips, and hair no matter how many issues against women are “solved”. What’s even more jacked up about it are the comments about big lips and big butts are a trend. Cosmetically enhanced lips and butts are trends, but natural big lips and big butts will never be a trend because they are gifts bestowed at birth.

    • Ringo Starrk on July 21, 2015 at 9:16 am

      YOU SOUND LIKE ONE BITTER K—T!

  15. B. Kennedy on June 9, 2015 at 2:37 am

    I.AM.NOT.MY.HAIR! bell hooks needs to get a clue! that entire grunge feminist wave ship sailed back in the 90’s! 3rd wave feminist are not afraid to perm their hair, wear a mini skirt and high-heels and still fight for women’s rights!