February: More Than a Month of Romance – Exploring Love’s Many Facets with bell hooks

February: More Than a Month of Romance - Exploring Loves Many Facets with bell hooks

February is arguably the most divisive month of the entire year. While some see it as a time to celebrate the love they share with their partners, others see it as a depressing reminder of the lack of love in their lives, a bleak time in which they must watch everyone else frolic around in their blissful states of adoration while they sit alone and unloved. An absence of love can feel terrifying, threatening to one’s very livelihood. Yet we set a rigid definition of love, we say that it can only be found in a few places. We see this idealized depiction of love everywhere: in movies, songs, books and TV shows.  Romantic love is held to the highest prestige, as though it is the only love that exists. This has led to a cultural misunderstanding of love, not only of love’s potential but all of the ways in which love shapes our lives. bell hooks’ novel All About Love is the perfect antidote to our collective misconception about what love truly is. 

Throughout her novel, hooks peels back each flawed misunderstanding of love and redefines it in a revolutionary way. Because truly, what is love? It can be at once so visceral a feeling that it seems tangible, like a bundle that we carry and spread. Despite this, love is constantly expressed contrastingly, it can be spoken in soft words yet heard in harsh tones. So we return to the question, what is love, really? hooks defines love as a verb that requires action. She challenges what we’ve so often been told about love by pointing to the varying dimensions of love, stating, “Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust.” She emphasizes that love is nothing without decisions and actions behind it. This is crucial in our understanding of love because it allows us to recognize it outside of our romantic or even close relationships. Strangers show love to one another everyday; times when people are given mercy and grace is when love is strongest. 

With this new definition of love, we can now point to the uncommon places where love can be found in our lives. hooks de-centers romantic love in her inspection – she recognizes its importance but highlights that love is plentiful in so many other areas of one’s life. She spotlights self love in the chapter titled “Commitment: Let Love be in Me”. hooks contests the common notion that self-love implies too much narcissism or selfishness, instead offering, “Giving ourselves love we provide our inner being with the opportunity to have the unconditional love we may have always longed to receive from someone else.” This negates the need to be on a constant hunt for love, providing that we can be alone and still overwhelmingly and fulfillingly loved. With this foundation of love, hooks posits that love can be found in a myriad of other areas. Love is also in our friendships; love is in the way that you trust your best friend with your deepest, darkest secrets. hooks says about loving friendships, “Loving friendships provide us with a space to experience the joy of community in a relationship where we learn to process all our issues, to cope with differences and conflict while staying connected.” Love can also be seen in our interactions with strangers, the love that we show to those we don’t know reveals the love that we have for humanity. hooks advocates for establishing a foundation of love so we can see it in the world at large. After all, how different would our world look if we centered love above all else? 

This revolutionary outlook on love allows us to view our lives through the ethics of love; we are able to see love everywhere, during every month of the year. So while February is usually heralded as a time to celebrate one’s romantic love, I encourage you to take the time to find other areas of your life that have an abundance of love. hooks tells us that love is everywhere, if we are only willing to recognize it. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Legend Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *