The University of Western Australia
In this article I argue that violent experiences were a crucial factor in bell hooks’ decision to write her first book Ain’t I A Woman?: Black Women and Feminism. Analysing the role of violence in hooks’ childhood in conjunction with the right to speech and silence forms the crux of my argument. I analyse hooks’ autobiographical works, Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood and Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life emphasising the role of paternal violence and how it contributed to her developing self-harming tendencies.
Existing studies have already charted hooks’ development as a writer through her childhood memoir, Bone Black but have overlooked the role of violence, especially the self-harming tendencies. I consequently build on these existing studies by marrying violence, the right to speak, and silence to hooks’ development as a writer. In doing so, this article makes an original contribution to the existing critical literature on this feminist writer.