Centering Love With bell hooks
Reflections on The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love in light of our one-year anniversary of All About Love: New Visions.
ID: A close-up black and white photo of bell hooks, a Black woman who smiles with her face turned towards the camera.
bell hooks is a revolutionary– one whose work we’ve explored before here at Hardcover Hotties. Last January, we redefined and reconfigured our meanings of the word “love,” and its presence in our lives with All About Love: New Visions. The ideas and values we discovered in All About Love ring true throughout hooks’ body of work and outside of it– hooks is known for her dedication to her value set and politics. This January, we’re continuing the discussion with hooks’ The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. In this book, hooks investigates the ways in which patriarchy and oppression are intertwined, leaving love hanging in the balance. Re-exploring one of hooks’ works allows us to investigate the ways in which hooks’s politics and practice are revolutionary, and compare and contrast them to the value sets of some of our Hardcover Hotties authors.
ID: Three book covers for hooks' Love Trilogy. "All About Love "is red, "Salvation" is green, and "Communion" is purple.
In the grand scheme of things, hooks’ focus on education, love, personal transformation, lived values and politics, and community are all tactics and values associated with her revolutionary status as a feminist author and activist. In her work, hooks applies these values to express the need for collective liberation– a liberation achieved through intersectional means. hooks is well known for her discussions of the concept, or the idea that systems of oppression are interlocked across races and classes. Structures of domination and discrimination must all be regarded in the contexts of each other. By also acknowledging the intersectionality of the oppressed population, we can ensure liberation across movements. In All About Love, hooks applies her ideologies to the concept of love in all its forms, continually finding love as the force of action necessary for transformation and liberation. With this book, hooks expanded our definitions of the word and the practices we associate with it. For more featuring All About Love, check out Hottie Kylie Hull’s writing in her magazine, Respire! In the wake of her 21st birthday, she confronts societal conceptions of romantic love with hooks’s definition, beautifully writing about her experiences as a “late bloomer.” hooks’ second and third books in the Love Trilogy, expand on the revelations made in All About Love. Salvation: Black People and Love takes notes from the politics of W.E.B. DuBois, and unravels love’s role in building Black communities and families through lenses of race, class, history, and popular culture. Communion: The Female Search for Love rounds out the trilogy, and serves as a call to action, inciting women to search for love as a part of their quest for liberation. hooks helped us realize the ways in which love surrounds us aside from romance– in the many different environments we find ourselves in and seek out, and even in our collective love as a community of curious individuals. For me, All About Love revealed the love present in my life in all its different opacities. Some types were easier to see than others, and hooks helped me to look beyond traditional definitions in order to see the deeper, different layers of love, some I hadn’t even recognized, and understand love as active rather than passive.
ID: A book cover which reads "The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love," along the top border. The cover features a cropped section of Michelangelo's oil painting, The Creation of Adam.
In The Will to Change, hooks focuses on personal transformation and the patriarchy. Still deeply permeated with the principles of love and intersectionality outlined in All About Love, hooks this time breaks down the ways in which patriarchy is oppressive towards everyone. She calls on individuals to enact personal change by holding love for themselves and others, and explains how this love can be extended to dismantle the patriarchy. Building community is a means of resistance for hooks, and she proves exactly how in The Will to Change. Love, in hooks’ definition, is at the center of her activism and advocacy, a principle shared with many of our Hardcover Hotties authors. With Alice Wong, we saw how “Access is Love,” and with Karla Cornejo Villavincencio, we saw how storytelling, love, and advocacy can be intertwined. There are countless examples of love as action throughout our book club picks, and authors who incite change through the care and attention they pay to the topics they discuss. Love in all of these cases is active, and inspires change by allowing intersectional communities to form and flourish.