The issues of race and sex have always troubled the minds of human beings. If in the past, these issues led to various conflicts within the society and resulted in the appearance of numerous movements for granting civil rights to women, racial and sexual minorities, etc., the present stage of the social development presents more freedom to people but still displays considerable criticism of those people who differ in some aspects from the bulk of others (Hooks, 1992; Butler, 1990).
The articles under consideration are similar in their focus on the burning social issues of race and gender, but the difference between them is found in the argumentation the authors use to support their positions and in the very attitude towards the matter of their writing (Hooks, 1992; Butler, 1990). Thus, Is Paris Burning? By Bell Hooks is a critical article considering the issues of racial and sexual stereotypes through the prism of the documentary Paris is Burning.
Considering the controversy between the concepts of whiteness and blackness in the human society, the author resorts to rather critical characteristics of the white-dominated sexist community of people calling the film under discussion the picture of “brutal imperial ruling-class capitalist patriarchal whiteness that presents itself – its way of life – as the only meaningful way of life there is” (Hooks, 149). Moreover, the author touches the topic of homosexuality and transsexualism among blacks as something tabooed by generations and by the very position of blacks in the white-dominated society (Hooks, 152).
Through centuries, blacks were made to perceive themselves as inferior in relation to whites, and sexual stereotyping played a substantial part in forming such beliefs. What Hooks (1992) aims at in her article is setting blacks free in their sexual and any other preferences (Hooks, 1992).
Regarding the second article under consideration, Subjects of Sex /Gender /Desire by Judith Butler, its views are more democratic and tolerant compared to Hooks’ article. What Butler (1990) says is that the feminist ideas, the very feminist movement and the concept of women as the collective identity do not reflect the modern reality of the human society. In other words, having achieved its major goals, i. e. winning the voting rights and other social and political freedoms for women, feminism has remained to struggle for something that has already been completed: “Although the claim of universal patriarchy no longer enjoys the kind of credibility it once did, the notion of a generally shared conception of “women”, the corollary to that framework, has been much more difficult to displace” (Butler, 4).
In other words, feminism is called the remnant of the past as there are no phenomena anymore that feminism was developed to fight with (Butler, 1990). This discussion is placed into a legal context that adds to the credibility of the article.
Thus, the articles are considered obviously similar in their focus on the burning social issues of race and gender. However, different is their attitudes towards these issues as Bell Hooks criticizes the modern state of things with the concept of race and interracial freedom (Hooks, 1992), while Judith Butler is sure to criticize the phenomenon developed to eliminate another expression of inequality in the society – feminism (Butler, 1990). Anyway, both articles are skillful works and nice examples of properly structured and argument writing.
Butler, Judith. “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire.” Gender Transition: Feminism and Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. 1 – 27.
Hooks, Bell. “Is Paris Burning?” Black Looks. Boston: South End, 1992. 145 – 156.