Communion The female search for love

bell hooks, 1952-

Book - 2002

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New York : W. Morrow 2002.
Main Author
bell hooks, 1952- (author)
1st ed
Physical Description
244 p.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Beginning with All about Love (2000), hooks, a courageous, incisive writer whose compassion is backed by vigorous intellectualism, embarked on a provocative, invaluable dissection of the myriad obstacles to love in a society shackled by racism, the subject of Salvation: Black People and Love [BKL F 15 01], and patriarchal assumptions, the focus of this blazing inquiry. Working from the premise that women of all backgrounds are still made to feel that their worth, or lovableness, is gauged not by inner qualities but by their appearance and how they serve others, especially men, hooks traces the dire effects of society's ongoing devaluation of women as she parses the dynamics of marriage, contrasts the experiences of different generations of women, analyzes women's collusion with patriarchal culture, and assesses feminism's achievements and failures. Digging deeply into the snarl of sexist habits of thought and being, hooks concludes that women can have true love and autonomy in their lives only if, starting with mothers and daughters, they genuinely support each other in confronting misogyny in all its insidious forms. Donna Seaman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

While feminism may have changed boardrooms, it didn't make much headway in bedrooms, argues philosopher/writer hooks. Women have made progress in regard to social empowerment, but the quest for emotional density for love has remained elusive. Why are men still so emotionally unsatisfying? Because, hooks argues, "patriarchal thinking has socialized males to believe that their manhood is affirmed when they are emotionally withholding." Patriarchy valorizes power and assigns it to men, and devalues nurturing and labels it feminine. Thus, young postfeminist women find themselves with "nothing to show" from their newly won equality but a double shift of work: first the paid job, then the physical and emotional homework of their relationship with their man. Still, as feminists of hooks's generation reach midlife, they may find it easier to rethink these terms of engagement, to risk changing things. The first step, she says, is self-love accepting one's body and soul just the way it is. Without such acceptance, women cannot escape the domination-submission dynamic. Even then, in this patriarchal universe finding love with another person may require some creativity. Hooks explores romantic friendships, lesbian loves and "circles of love" (which allow for committed bonds that extend beyond one partnership). A life with no coupling, but "a more authentic relationship between self and world," may also be satisfying. Twenty-something women who've embraced the highly problematic "bitch persona" Elizabeth Wurtzel has written of may sneer at hooks's affirming style, but older women, particularly those raising girls themselves, will find much to ponder here. (Feb. 1) Forecast: This should satisfy those looking for an alternative Valentine's Day gift for the leftist/feminist woman in their life. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Known best for her battles against racism and sexism, writer/academician bell hooks delves into the proper role of love in the lives of women. Communion completes the trilogy that began with All About Love: New Visions and Salvation: Black People and Love wherein hooks advocated a love that embraced all ages and races and discussed barriers to that kind of love. In her latest work, hooks overturns the concept that a woman must be good to be loved and that her worth needs to be determined by another. In a patriarchal society, a woman's loving someone has always meant losing herself in order to be accepted or desired. This does not have to be the case. One can find freedom and the possibility of true communion with other women or men by first doing love "work" cultivating care, knowledge, respect, and responsibility in relation to oneself. hooks has gathered the wisdom of women who have come to know love in midlife and put together a powerful guidebook to life, which contains insight into the essence of love, societal influences that preclude one's finding it, and practical means for opening oneself to the love found in relationships. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/01.] Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Communion The Female Search for Love Chapter One aging to love, loving to age Every day I talk to women about love and aging. It's an over-forty thing to do. The exciting news is this: Everyone agrees that aging is more fun than it has ever been before. It has its joys and delights. It also has its problems. What's new for many women is that the problems don'talways get us down. And if they do, we don't stay down -- we pick ourselves up and start over. This is part of the magic, the power and pleasure of midlife. Even though trashing feminism has become as commonplace as chatting about the weather, we all owe feminism, the women's liberation movement, women's lib -- whatever you call it. It helped change how women see aging. Many of us feel better about aging because the old scripts that told us life ends at thirty or forty, that we turn into sexless zombies who bitch bitch bitch all the time and make everyone around us miserable were thrown away. So it does not matter that feminist movement has its faults -- it helped everyone let these scripts go. And I do mean everyone. We have changed our ways of thinking about aging and we have changed our ways of thinking about love. When the world started changing for women because of feminist movement and a lot became more equal than it ever had been, for a time it was only women who had been allowed a taste of power -- class privilege or education or extra-special-hard-to-ignore-gifts-who most "got it" and "got with it." These women were among the feminist avant-garde. Often they had exceptional advantages or were overachievers. While feminism helped these women soar, it often failed to change in any way the lives of masses of ordinary women. Many advantages gained by women's lib did not trickle down, but the stuff around aging did. By challenging sexist ways of thinking about the body, feminism offered new standards of beauty, telling us plump bodies were luscious and big bellies sublime, that hair hanging under our arms and covering our legs was alluring. It created new possibilities of self-actualization in both our work lives and our intimate lives. As women have changed our minds about aging, no longer seeing it as negative, we have begun to think differently about the meaning of love in midlife. Beth Benatovich's collection of interviews What We Know So Far: Wisdom Among Women, offers powerful testimony affirming this fact. With prophetic insight, writer Erica Jong declares, "I believe that this is a moment of history in which we are engaged in a kind of spiritual revolution -- the kind of revolution that creates pathfinders....Older women are again being accorded their ancient role as prophetesses and advisors....That's the great transformation that's happening again in our time. In looking to things other than the body beautiful for inspiration, we're being forced to redefine the second half of our lives, to become pathfinders." Difficulties still abound for aging women. What's most changed is the constructive way women of all ages, classes, and ethnicities cope with these difficulties. Open, honest conversations about the myriad ways empty-nest syndrome, the death of parents or a spouse, and/or the deeply tragic death of a child all create psychological havoc in our lives have helped. Our talk of this suffering would be stale and commonplace, were it not for all the creative ways women are attending to the issue of aging both in midlife and in the postsixty years. The courage to choose adventure is the ingredient that exists in women's lives today that was there for most women before the contemporary feminist movement. Contrast the women who suffered breast cancer silently with the women today who speak out, who proudly and lovingly claim their bodies intact, whole, and beautiful after surgical removals. Poet Deena Metzger boldly proclaims the beauty of the one-breasted woman on a poster. Theorist Zillah Eisenstein tells all about breast cancer, her personal story, in Man-made Breast Cancers. In these ways women in midlife are changing the world. In the exciting world of women I was raised in -- an extended family with lots of great-grandmothers, grandmothers, great-aunts, aunts, daughters, and their children -- learned early that aging would be full of delight. Women around us talked about the prime of their life as though it was indeed the promised land. Like beautiful snakes, they were going to reach their prime, boldly shed their skin, and acquire another -- this one more powerful and beautiful than all the rest. Something in them was going to be resurrected. They were going to be born again and have another chance. These were poor women born into a world without adequate birth control, a world where having an abortion could end one's life, psychologically or physically. They were women who saw menopause as a rite of passage in which they would move from slavery to freedom. Until then they often felt trapped. This feeling of being trapped was one they shared with women across class. Even women who were solitary, celibate, and quite able to manage economically lived with the ever-present fearful possibility that all that could be changed by sexual coercion. In their world, once a woman was no longer able to bear children, she was just freer-midlife, the magic time. Oh, how I was filled with delight when I heard Mama and her friends carry on about the joys of "the change of life." They never used the word "menopause." How intuitively sensible! Had they taken to heart medical ways of defining shifts in midlife, they might have been forced to take on board the negative implications this word would bring -- the heavy weight of loss it evokes. Instead they had their own special language. A subtle, seductive, mysterious, celebratory way of talking about changes in... Communion The Female Search for Love . Copyright © by bell hooks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Communion: The Female Search for Love by bell hooks All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.