“to be ‘feminist’ in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.” –bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman
For this last Faith and Feminism Friday post before the 2012 election, I want to point you to a conversation with bell hooks. On a recent broadcast of Smiley & West, she and Cornel West talked about being called to love.
It’s a sad but powerful conversation that you really must listen to attentively in its entirety. Really, go ahead. I’ll wait.
It’s also a spiritual and biblical conversation about the times we live in, times hooks and West describe as full of temptation and terror. To paraphrase West, we really don’t have a language for how bad things are. (I told you the conversation is sad. But listen to it anyway.)
Now, hooks said, is “a crucial time to talk about the strength of love. We have to be willing to share unashamedly the truth of where our strength comes from. … I am a servant. Those books don’t come from a ‘bell hooks brilliance.’ … That is the light of grace.”
What a biblical thing to say during a campaign season in which the Bible has been thrown around as a defense for heinous, self-centered, and ungodly behavior, comments, and proposed policies. “Did you ever think we’d live to see a white man running on a white supremacist ticket—for presidency?” hooks asked West. “This is even more overt [than George Wallace in the 1960s]. He knows exactly what he’s calling forth,” she said, referring to Mitt Romney.
hooks’ call to love, to be a servant, to build community by being “willing to give to the stranger” also stuck out to me because while it is an incredibly feminist—and, in our gender stereotypes-driven culture, feminine—statement to make, it is the chief command and dying wish of the savior of a religion that has been portrayed as, by believers and nonbelievers alike, legendarily patriarchal.
The conversation between hooks and West reminded me that my belief in and desire for equality go beyond gender. I want to see freedom from oppression, period. I’m at the point where I’m certain it’s silly to believe a two-party, money-driven system will ever be enough to achieve that desire, but I participate in it in an effort to minimize lost ground. It’s also why, most of the time, I as a feminist can stand in Christianity as weapon in the fight.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” –Jesus Christ, quoting the prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:18-19)