½ of Omnicron presents bell hooks’ Communion (Well, the preface and chapters 1-7, not the whole thing.) Sweet PowerPoint compilation and endless hours of reading and highlighting done by Becky Noback (cowboy hat) and Nikki Texeira (Viking hat) to be presented on this first day of February, MMXI.
Gloria Watkins aka bell hooks Born: Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952 Books: has published over twenty-one books. Education: B.A. From Stanford University, M.A. from University of Wisconsin, and Ph.D. from University of California at Santa Cruz bell hooks grew up in a patriarchal household and that impacted her decision to branch off from what had been expected of her.
Preface bell hooks describes how love is a “gendered narrative” for women. See page xi, “From girlhood on… never quite good enough” Question: How do you think the value of “femaleness” has changed over time? Or has “femaleness” stayed the same?
Chapter One“Aging to love, loving to age” This chapter delves into the concept that when women reach the middle of their lives that they believe love is no longer an option. bell hooks describes her mother’s belief that she cannot leave her husband because her age. See page 8 “I remember…”
Chapter Two “Love’s Proper Place” Chapter two discusses several things, but first it talks about how the generation she grew up in “…married young, and they had babies”(16). Her memories touch upon how her mother and father unconsciously related to patriarchy in the household. She also develops a mixture of what kind of relationship and form of love she would want in her life.
Chapter Two Cont’d See page 21 “And I remained a freak…” to page 22. This paragraph talks about how psychologists and society decided to shape how a woman’s life would be spent while in a marriage. Question: When hooks stands up for the beliefs she loves, could you say that you have similar scenarios in your life?
still chapter two? “The Bitch Persona” See page 27 “This struggle…” “Elizabeth Wurtzel declares that ‘the bitch persona appeals to us’ because ‘it is the illusion of liberation, of libertine abandon’” What does the word “bitch” mean today?
Chapter Three “Looking for love, finding freedom” Page 33, “My Search…” This quote tells us that bell hooks found other women who were able to share similar stories and had relatable intentions of ending sexism and other societal constraints.
Chapter Three Cont’d Page 34, “As I moved deeper…” From this quote we learn that within hooks’ experience of radical feminism that she and others began to see the “the impact of patriarchal thinking”.
Chapter Four: finding balance: work and love Once people left college, they became more Conservative Pg. 47, “…more and more…” “The Second Shift”, Arlie Hochschild Women had jobs outside the home but still took care of household jobs
Chapter four cont’d Pg. 48, bell’s sister Pg. 49, “…having a job gave a measure of independence and autonomy, increased self-esteem, and the possibility of new interests.” Pg. 50-51, “Now women were…” Robin Norwood Women Who Love Too Much critique
Almost done with this chapter, we promise Shere Hite, Women and Love Women and Love combats Women Who Love Too Much by saying that women didn’t love too much, rather they were “cynical about love” (pg. 56). hooks praises the book as a “book of revelations”
Chapter Five: gaining power, losing love hooks claims that “[f]eminist women stopped talking about love because we found that love was harder to get than power.” Pg. 61, “In my case… ‘the proper demeanor.’” “I did not trust any man enough to be dependent on him economically” (pg. 62).
Chapter five cont’d hooks points out that women hadn’t paid much attention to money matters before they left their spouses. “Not only did they feel that their hearts had been broken, but also they felt they were still paying the price for wanting out” (pg. 63). “Many men use material privilege as a weapon against women when they want to end relationships” (pg. 64).
…yup, still chapter five. “…if men were not willing to holistically embrace feminist revolution, then they would not be in an emotional place where they could offer us love. There can be no love without justice” (pg. 65-66). hooks addresses the intersection of women’s liberation and sexual liberation (pg. 67). Pg. 68, “Conflicts and problems…sexual fulfillment.”
We’re sick of chapter five too, folks. Pg. 70, “In actuality…equity.” “Women are always ready to believe that men love them, despite all appearances to the contrary.” –Germaine Greer Women and men alike tend to value power over love. Pg. 74, “Nowadays…power.”
Chapter Six: women who fail at loving Women’s obsession with love is not inherent or natural. Rather, it is a socially constructed habit. The concept of “love” gained approval only in the 1900’s when marriage became “more than a bonding whose primary purpose was the sharing of resources and the breeding of future workers” (pg. 76). Growth of capitalism “split” home and work.
Chapter six cont’d A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman Sex became the man’s ultimate concern Page 77, “For men…woman’s work.” Women became objects of nurturance, a view supported by findings by psychologists Jean Baker Miller and Carol Gilligan. Singing at the Top of Our Lungs: Women, Love, and Creativity by Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan critiqued Miller’s and Gilligan’s work (pg. 78).
Don’t hate, chapter six is pretty long. Gender scripting begins disgustingly early Girls with baby dolls, boys with GI Joe and “games of pretend violence” Since boys learn early that to be masculine is “to take life, not to give and nurture life”, hooks feels that men “overall do not want to parent” (pg. 79). The Mother Dance by Harriet Lerner, page 79. “No one believes that males are inherently capable of nurturance, but this sexist stereotype continues to shape cultural perceptions about female identity” (pg. 79).
Hang in there, class. bell rips Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus apart. bell hooks claims that while there are differences in the anatomy of males and females, “cultural conditioning” caused women to become more prone to nurturing. Do you think that anatomical differences between males and females can play a part in how men and women differ in terms of parenting and love? Or do you feel that it depends solely on cultural conditioning?
Chapter seven: choosing and learning to love Page 95, “When…arise.” Since women are, for the most part, predestined to be caregivers, they concentrate on that rather than learning how to love. Patriarchy is essentially inescapable. Women can’t love because they don’t know how and men can’t be masculine if they show emotional vulnerability. Can anybody win?
Chapter seven cont’d hooks claims that the big problem with men, women, and love is patriarchal social conditioning. Page 97, “When females…conflict.” Women who are willing to work harder to make their partner love them solidify women’s “allegiance to patriarchy” (pg. 97-98). Antipatriarchal thinking assumes that “both women and men are equally capable of learning how to love” (pg. 98).
Chapter seven cont’d further Just because women have been victimized by men doesn’t mean that they automatically reject patriarchy and unlearn stereotypical gender roles (hooks’ mother, pg. 100). The Power of Beauty by Nancy Friday As wacky as this sounds, some women may be reluctant to embrace a feminist ideology and question gender roles (pg. 101, “Therefore…not.”) It’s easier for women to learn to love than it is for men because women are conditioned to love without reciprocation, so it’s nothing new. “…the assumption that women naturally love more and better than men actually keeps us from facing our problems with love and intimacy” (pg. 101-102).
So, what’s the secret to love? Pg. 104: “…we find mutual love only when we know how to love. And the best place to start practicing the art of loving is with the self -- that body, mind, heart, and soul that we can most know and change. The one person who will never leave us, whom we will never lose, is ourself. Learning to love our female selves is where our search for love must begin. We begin this journey to love by examining the ideas and benefits we have about the nature of intimacy and true love. Rather than embracing faulty thinking that encourages us to believe that females are inherently loving, we make the choice to become loving. Choosing love, we affirm our agency, our commitment to personal growth, our emotional openness.”