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Mar—All About Love (2016) > Self-help Literature and Gender Roles

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message 1: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (last edited Mar 26, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
I was going to post this in the topic Not Feeling It, but I think this might be an interesting enough discussion on its own and I didn't want to derail that thread. But it is in response to many of the reactions to the book in that topic, so I encourage those who have not read through it yet to check out what members have been saying over there!

Here's a quote from page 154 that I think helps shed some light on hooks's use of gender role stereotypes in this book. She's referring to the typical sexism of self-help literature:

"Rather than linking habits of being, usually considered innate, to learned behavior that helps maintain and support male domination, they act as though these differences are not value laden or political but are rather inherent and mystical."

It seems that many members are reading this book as if it is part of the literature that she references here, but I think her intention is to critique these writings and the stereotypes that they uphold.

My interpretation was that the book relies on the assumption that readers are aware of and agree with the patriarchal expectations of men and women, and these are what she spends much time discussing, but many are interpreting this as her own assumptions rather than the gender roles that are maintained by patriarchy ("learned behavior that helps maintain and support male domination").

I am curious, then, about how she may have accomplished this better? This book is written in a more "popular" style than a lot of her other work (from what I understand, only having read excerpts in the past), so I wonder what her target audience is for the book. I would have assumed it was people much like us, the members of this group, but what is it about the book that seems to be missing so many of us?

Or maybe I'm completely wrong about her intentions, but having read interviews and excerpts in the past, I'm certain that her use of stereotypical "male" and "female" behaviors is not based in personal beliefs that they are correct or natural.

Anyway, I thought this might be a worthwhile discussion ;)

message 2: by Jayce (last edited Mar 29, 2016 02:52PM) (new)

Jayce (caseyobrien) | 33 comments A worthwhile discussion indeed :)

My thoughts are that this book was written in such a way that bell hooks comes across her arguments as though they are "one sided," so to speak. If anything, I suppose that some readers on this club are finding it difficult to relate because there is not much in this book to compare with her argument. In other words, because she keeps reiterating what she has already said (is it just me, or is there a pattern in all the chapters?), some people may see it as though what she is saying about love and patriarchy is the ultimate truth, and that there is nothing to argue about. This, plus references to her own religion, may lead to the assumption that what she is saying is based on her beliefs.

Admittedly, I am not quite sure how she could have gotten her point across any better. This book goes to show that there is no single definition of feminism, seeing as how many people did not receive this book as positively.

Who knows, I might be totally wrong about how this book is being interpreted. I hope this thread will continue a little while longer; I would love to see what others think ;-)

message 3: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

I agree with what you've said. The religious perspective offered here definitely creates a sense of bias. At least from my point of view, mentioning religion automatically puts me on defense, not because I have a problem with it personally, but I often find that when people use their own religion to make arguments, things become more personal and less objective. In All About Love: New Visions, hooks seemed to hover on the edge of that (for me, at least). It's obviously personal, not just because of the inclusion of religious ideas but also anecdotes from her life. But I found the religious references generally critical, much in the same way that I found references to self help literature. I also found that the vagueness with which she handled the religious ideas allowed me to translate the concepts for my own purposes (praying=journaling, stuff like that).

There is definitely a pattern in all of the chapters, and a lot of repetition. I noticed especially in the chapters on abuse and healing that there was a lot of repetition of specific positive affirmations, which to me seemed to function as an attempt at curing the misconceptions she identifies about love. I thought it was an interesting and useful device. I'd be interested in how other people interpreted the patterns!

message 4: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments I should read that book again, because I've forgotten so much about it, but I can remember that I really hated how she wrote about gender roles, because I thought that's how she thinks about them.

There were some parts I liked, but it was definitely not the gende roles. I will reread the book in September/October, and then come back to discuss.

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