Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Some thoughts on feminism, Quakerism, and voluntaryism
In the 2004 book The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, bell hooks seeks to build a bridge between men and women in the effort to undermine the destructive effects of patriarchy on individuals. Interestingly, she focuses a great deal of her attention on feminists - critiquing a lack of viable ways presented for men to engage in this work and in some cases for actually participating in a female version of patriarchal values. Her definition of these values focuses on a desire for domination. "One of the first revolutionary acts of visionary feminism," hooks argues, "must be to restore maleness and masculinity as an ethical biological category divorced from the dominator model" (114).
In contrast, "imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchal culture continues to insist that domination must be the organizing principle of today's civilization" (116). Only by developing and fostering a "feminist masculinity" can men and women be free of this dominator model. "The core of feminist masculinity is a commitment to gender equality and mutuality as crucial to interbeing and partnership in the creating and sustaining of life. Such a commitment always privileges nonviolent action over violence, peace over war, life over death" (118).
Much of this should sit well with Friends, given a long history of commitment to both peace and gender equality. While by no means perfect in the application of the idea, the Quaker concept that each of us contains within a seed of the divine at its best leads to a deep appreciation of the value of individuals and an abhorrence of silencing, abusing, or putting out the light of another human being.
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