Beyoncé knew she was starting something the moment she sang in "Formation," the final track off her recently released album Lemonade, "You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation."
On Monday, feminist scholar bell hooks published a piece on the album, writing that while the "subject matter" is "daring," Lemonade is "all about the body, and the body as commodity. This is certainly not radical or revolutionary."
In response, writer and transgender rights activist Janet Mock posted a string of tweets arguing that bell hooks' critique wasn't just a jab at Lemonade, or even Beyoncé, but at "black femme feminists" everywhere.
Mock started off by addressing bell hooks' opinion that "throughout Lemonade the black female body is utterly-aestheticized — its beauty a powerful in your face confrontation. This is no new offering."
Mock said bell hooks' comments promote "hierarchies of respectability" where women must look and act a certain way to be seen as worthy of respect.
Beyoncé first announced she was a feminist in 2010.
"I think I am a feminist, in a way," she told U.K. publication You. Ever since, Beyoncé's feminism has been the subject of endless debate, with even an entire women's studies class devoted to the topic at Rutgers University. And in conversations among feminists like bell hooks and Mock, the question persists of what is empowering to women and what is playing into the hands of the patriarchy — and if anyone can decide that other than each woman for herself.
No matter which way feminists fall, most would probably agree Mock's call to obliterate "femmephobia" is an important one, and the only way to end the marginalization of people of all genders who embrace femininity.