as a whirlwind swoops on an oak
love shakes my heart” – Sappho
The radical act of loving is what saves us; radical love isn’t ridden with the conservative notions imposed by society; love is visceral, bold and a revolution. Growing up in a world where we’re constantly and consistently taught – what defines love, how to hold love, how to see love, whom to love, whom not to, yadda yadda; much against our own will, is bound to cultivate a lifetime of rebellion against societal structures that define love rather in a colonising, capitalist and apolitical fashion. This article would encompass of my attempt at making a case for how feminist theory and literature is a both a refuge and a praxis for reclaiming loving as a feminist act.
Reading bell hooks for instance; taught me the sheer importance of placing love as a central political and feminist question and solution. In ‘All about Love’ bell hooks talked about how love as an action must be the foundation in all meaningful relationships and not just romantic bonds, how love is inherently feminist, radical and revolutionary by defying the norms of ableism, heteronormativity and patriarchy. hooks considered loving as a serious political subject and a feminist question and how we do ourselves a gross disservice by relegating a subject; as crucial as love, under the realm of unrealistic, pretentious and off-putting rom-coms, self help books and ostentatious art and poetry – which adversely lead to society’ narrow definition of categorizing love within a heteronormative and apolitical bubble, or even how society expects us to place cis-gendered heteronormative romance above all relationships revolving around queer love, platonic intimacy and community care. By theorising and questioning the contemporary societal structures of love, bell hooks brought forth an overwhelmingly obvious answer to all this mayhem – reclaiming love as a feminist act which is intersectional and layered with freedom and diversity; is the solution.
One of my favourite poems by Mary Oliver; highlights a pivotal emphasis on how women are often taught to strive for perfection or bend over backwards to please other people and how instead, enough women aren’t told that they don’t have to win everyone’s approval, act sweet and jovial all the time or apologize for things that aren’t simply their fault. Reclaiming love in the face of such patriarchal and misogynistic instances as a feminist act – which is underlined again, is the answer. This piece is entitled ‘Wild Geese’ and culminates with these lines;
“you do not have to be good.
you do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
you only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”
This write up has been written by Akshiti, 2nd year