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Communion: the Female Search for Loveby bell hooks
Synopses & Reviews
Chapter Oneaging to love, loving to ageEvery 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 didnot 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 postsixtyyears. 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 bechanged 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...
In the final book of her love trilogy that began with "all about love" and "salvation, " bell hooks explores the ways ideas about women and love were changed by the feminist movement, by women's full participation in the workforce, by the culture of self-help, and by popular media forces such as television and movies.
Renowned visionary and theorist bell hooks began her exploration of the meaning of love in American culture with the critically acclaimed All About Love: New Visions. She continued her national dialogue with the bestselling Salvation: Black People and Love. Now hooks culminates her triumphant trilogy of love with Communion: The Female Search for Love.
Intimate, revealing, provocative, Communion challenges every female to courageously claim the search for love as the heroic journey we must all choose to be truly free. In her trademark commanding and lucid language, hooks explores the ways ideas about women and love were changed by feminist movement, by women's full participation in the workforce, and by the culture of self-help.
Communion is the heart-to-heart talk every woman — mother, daughter, friend, and lover — needs to have.
About the Author
Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life," she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is the author of more than 17 books, including All About Love: New Visions; RememberedRapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.
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