Generally speaking I’m suspicious of people who tout ‘love’ as the ultimate answer to all the problems of the world. It seems too simple to me. However, although Hook’s reading does end on this rather sentimental note- citing feminism as a labour of love seeking to create a world where people can live “fully and freely”, and I quote: ” Let us draw upon that love to heighten our awareness, deepen our compassion, intensify our courage, and strengthen our commitment.”- she does make some interesting points which I would like to discuss.
What caught my interest about this reading was the excellent point raised by Hook regarding feminist movements and human complexity. The issue I have with a lot of radical movements is the oversimplification. Like, solving whatever this problem is will solve all the problems that ever there were. Gay marriage is another one of these. While I’m all for the legalisation of gay marriage, I’m not romantic enough to believe that it’s all encompassing, or that bigotry and prejudice will be resolved by it, or that it’s as clear cut an idea as it’s put across to be. Feminism is the same. As Hook discusses, by lacking a clear and universal definition that’s broad enough to be inclusive of a diverse range of people, feminism lacks a strong foundation and so loses a monumental amount of it’s potential power to actually change anything.
The over simplifying of feminism- that women are victims and men are evil and by tearing down patriarchal dominance the world will be right- ignores the complexity of peoples stories and the diversity of issues at hand. Hook discusses at length the diverse nature of dominant and oppressive relationships. Men dominate and are dominated. Likewise with women. This definition of feminism fails to take into account other factors such as class, race, sexuality or religion. In failing to do so, voices are left out of the conversation and so go unrepresented.
This reading is very similar to one I looked at earlier on in the semester from AUDRE LORDE, and it’s easy to draw a parallel between the two in how the major issue at hands seems to be intersectionality and people not being heard because they are sectioned off into specific categories.
How does this tie into my essay? Well, at the moment I’m exploring the idea that discourse informs how to think about material bodies, specifically medical and legal discourse have the greatest weighting on how a man and woman are defined and what their bodies should or should not be able to do. And therefore, a body altered by surgery to fit a medically defined gendered norm is seen as more authentic than a body as it is interpreted by the person inhabiting it. How this reading ties with this idea is the idea of whose voices are being left out of the conversation? How we define material bodies is heavily swayed by a medial discourse which holds legal consequences: a person is legally not whatever sex they decide to be unless they are medically deemed to be so. The unheard voice here is the individual, how they determine themselves, and how their individual circumstances may impact their situation.
It’s a stretch, but what I think this weeks reading contributes to my essay is emphasising the importance of a diverse range of voices when considering the discourses that shape the world. And love and all that junk.