This writing is from the influence bell hooks writing is having in my life. I’m wrapping my mind around my expanding understanding of what I thought I understood as gender roles. I invite the thoughts of those I may offend and acknowledge that I am taking a risk and might get something wrong.
When we struggle to accept the fluidity that exists within gender and resist the fact that any human may claim any pronoun, identity, or gender they see fit to define for themselves, we have the opportunity to feel how bound we are by institutionalized gender roles set by the patriarchy.
The violence, shame, ignorance, and silence proliferated by patriarchy manifests in all of us and is the opposite of love. The influence of the patriarchy (the interlocking systems of oppression & domination, not men) thwarts love from existing and being expressed on so many levels.
Systematically & lovingly changing our views, thoughts, and hearts on what might have at one point seemed “normal,” “natural,” or what the imperialist, white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy “rewards” us for believing is necessary. This may initially, and continually, be very uncomfortable and confusing. This is the most important kind of work to do deep within yourself if you love humans, love, and life. I bet my life on it.
bell hooks says, “If you have love, you have a community of belonging.” We don’t have to agree, but everybody belongs in the community. Othering does not ever effectively build community.
She also says, “The challenge of love is to extend belonging to those we don’t know, [don’t understand], or those who have hurt us.”
And also “True belonging is inclusive.” – bell paraphrasing Thich Nhat Hahn.
I have the willingness to keep her words close to my heart and embrace the love and belonging that I want to experience in my life. There is much I cannot reconcile yet about inclusion and community in the face of oppression, violence, and hatred.
I’m starting to see how we all react to the perpetual undercurrent of psychological patriarchy and act out the traumas enacted upon us as we were (either metaphorically, psychologically, spiritually and/or literally) beaten into submission of our institutionalized gender roles instead of being allowed to be our true selves.
If you never felt forced or beaten into being someone/something you’re not, then congratulations on that extreme privilege that you get to enjoy. It seems the system was built to serve you and a very few others.
I don’t understand yet all the possible ways to do this work meaningfully from day to day, but that is the work…learning to understand, acknowledge, include, and love more each & every day.