Bell Hooks, Courtney Hoffman, and Memories Pizza

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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Comment by Olivia on 4th mo. 10, 2015 at 5:53am

Hi Matt,

Yes, I like her ideas.      I found too a recent natural conversation that evolved into sharing this QuakerSpeak video (click here) with another Friend.  QuakerSpeak sums this video up as follows: "Niyonu Spann, founder of Beyond Diversity 101, talks about her idea of heaven and how she invites everyone (including white men) to fully bring it."    I enjoyed seeing the need for liberating men as well.

It brings to mind the oddness I felt at hearing a talk given by an elderly gentleman whose wife had just read Sue Monk Kidd's "Dance of the Dissident Daughter".  He was telling us that his wife was so affected by reading this and having her old, patriarchal world view debunked that it caused her all kinds of trouble...and he read the book himself out of love of her and what she was going through. 

And now -- he was telling us -- he himself was all shaken up in a strange, liberating and scary way:  Seeing suddenly all this stuff he previously thought was not there.  Seeing the world was much larger and much different from the one he'd been taught:  recognizing that he HAD been taught, instead of as he previously thought "this is just the way things are."  

Personally I confess that I WAS then moved to read that book on Monk Kidd's religious feminist journey because it had actually been meaningful to a man!   (I felt that not because I'm patriarchal, but because "if it could reach even a patriarch...then THIS I've got to read....")

I've digressed...but simply feel that yes, I agree, there's a wide and wonderful world out there that involves liberating ourselves from old world views, or the natural discovery that we were having one!   And joyful appreciation of the liberation of men as well!  The link above, like your post, gives Quakers room to consider more deeply the role of men in feminism, and to consider this thought in a non-diminishing way, but seeing a new masculine power in that, one we've got room for.

Comment by Matt on 4th mo. 10, 2015 at 10:05pm

Thank you for sharing, Olivia! I have seen that QuakerSpeak video, and now I have a new book to read - thanks for the recommendation!


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