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With the death of bell hooks, a generation of feminists lost a foundational figure.

Lisa B. Thompson

research paper on bell hooks

Author and cultural critic bell hooks poses for a portrait on December 16, 1996 in New York City, New York. Karjean Levine/Getty Images hide caption

Author and cultural critic bell hooks poses for a portrait on December 16, 1996 in New York City, New York.

"We black women who advocate feminist ideology, are pioneers. We are clearing a path for ourselves and our sisters. We hope that as they see us reach our goal – no longer victimized, no longer unrecognized, no longer afraid – they will take courage and follow." bell hooks, Ain't I a Woman

Trailblazing feminist author, critic and activist bell hooks has died at 69

Arts & Life

Trailblazing feminist author, critic and activist bell hooks has died at 69.

There are well-worn bell hooks books scattered throughout my library. She's in nearly every section – race, class, film, cultural studies – and, as expected, her books take up an entire shelf in the feminism section. I doubt I would have survived this long without her work, and the work of other Black feminist thinkers of her generation, to guide me. I've retrieved every bell hooks book today, and the unwieldy stack comforts me as I assess the impact of her loss.

If you ever heard hooks speak, it would come as no surprise that she first attended college to study drama, as she recounted in a 1992 essay. In the 1990s she blessed my college campus for a week, and I was mesmerized by lectures that were deliciously brilliant yet full of humor. Her banter with the audience during the Q&A floated easily between thoughtful answers, deep questioning and sly quips that kept us at rapt attention. Her words garner just as much attention on the page. She was a prolific writer, and her intellectual curiosity was boundless.

Discovering bell hooks changed the lives of countless Black women and girls. After picking up one of her many titles – Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center; Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics; Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism – the world suddenly made sense. She reordered the universe by boldly gifting us with the language and theories to understand who we were in an often hostile and alienating society.

She also made clear that, as Black women, we belonged to no one but ourselves. A bad feminist from the start, hooks was clearly uninterested in being safe, respectable or acceptable, and charted a career on her own terms. She implored us to transgress and struggle, but to do so with love and fearlessness. Her brave, bold and beautiful words not only spoke truth to power, but also risked speaking that same truth to and about our beloved icons and culture.

As we traversed hostile spaces in academia, corporate America, the arts, medicine and sometimes our own families, hooks not only taught us how to love ourselves, but also insisted that we seek justice. She helped us to better understand and, if necessary, forgive the women who birthed and raised us. She claimed feminism without apology, and encouraged Black women in particular to embrace feminism, and to do more than simply identify their oppression, but to envision new ways of being in the world. She called on us to honor early pioneers such as Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell, who first claimed the mantle of women's rights.

The lower-case name bell hooks published under challenged a system of academic writing that historically belittled and ignored the work of Black scholars. She also used language that was as plain and as clear as her politics. While her writing was deeply personal, often carved from her own experiences, her ideas were relentlessly rigorous and full of citations—even though she eschewed footnotes, another refusal of the academy's standards that endeared her to those of us determined to remake intellectual traditions that denied our very humanity.

Rejecting footnotes seemed to symbolize the fact that the knowledge hooks most valued could not fit into those tiny spaces. Her writing style hinted at the fact that her ideas were always more expansive than even her books could hold. While there were no footnotes, her books were love notes to a people she loved fiercely.

No matter where she taught or lived, bell hooks always kept Kentucky and her family ties close. She frequently claimed her southern Black working-class background and an abiding love for her home. Although she was educated at prestigious schools, she always spoke with the wisdom and wit of our mothers, grandmothers and aunties. Her return to the Bluegrass State and Berea College towards the end of her career has a narrative elegance. A generation of feminists has lost a foundational figure and a beloved icon, but her legacy lives on in her writing, which will provide sustenance for generations to come.

Lisa B. Thompson is a playwright and the Bobby and Sherri Patton Professor of African & African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow her @drlisabthompson on Twitter and Instagram .

The Commons

bell hooks – Ideas for Social Justice

By Commons Volunteer Librarian , E. T. Smith

bell hooks made significant contributions to the theory and practice of social justice. This article summarises three key concepts and provides a guide to her many writings as well as videos and audio of presentations and interviews.


bell hooks (1952-2021) chose this name, and styled it in lower-case, in an effort to focus attention on the substantive ideas within her writing, rather than her identity as an isolated individual. To situate those ideas, bell hooks drew on academic scholarship and popular culture as well as her relevant personal perspectives: especially as a Black woman living in America; as an educator and activist; and as the first in her family to gain a university education.

Many of the ideas articulated by bell hooks have resonated widely. Of these, my reflection focuses on her contributions to three concepts that have been influential in social justice movements:

Intersecting structures of power

  • Practising love, a verb, is a pathway to justice

Teaching/learning as activism

To help contextualise the broader impact of these and other ideas within bell hooks’ 40+ books and other writings, I’ve included a selection of additional resources, sorted by type:

Resource collections featuring bell hooks

Presentations, interviews, & conversations, additional references.

But first, a sample of memorials to honour the range and depth of appreciation for bell hooks’ contributions to social justice movements:

  • Tributes flow for ‘giant, no nonsense’ feminist author, educator, activist and poet bell hooks, ABC News (Australia), 2021
  • Remembering bell hooks & Her Critique of “Imperialist White Supremacist Heteropatriarchy” video report by Democracy Now , 2021
  • We’ll Never Be Done Learning From bell hooks , article for The Cut by Bindu Bansinath, 2021
  • For bell hooks, beloved scholar , remembrance article for the Gay City News by Nicholas Boston, 2021
  • Memorial notice for bell hooks in the Daily Nous , 2021
  • bell hooks passes, leaving legacy of activism and progress , article for ArtCritque by Brandon Lorimer, 2021
  • The Revolutionary Writing of bell hooks , article in The New Yorker by Hua Hsu, 2021
  • What bell hooks taught us , the Giro , 2021
  • bell hooks, We Will Always Rage On With You , article for Truthout by George Yancy, 2021
  • In case it helps – bell hooks asé , blog post by adrianne maree brown, 2021

Exploring bell hooks’ contributions to three social justice concepts

bell hooks often wrote about how race, class, capitalism, and gender function together as interdependent power-structures. This included developing an influential analysis of how these interlocking power structures converge to produce and perpetuate the dominance of imperialist-white-supremacist-capitalist-heteropatriarchy .

Fundamentally, if we are only committed to an improvement in that politic of domination that we feel leads directly to our individual exploitation or oppression, we not only remain attached to the status quo but act in complicity with it, nurturing and maintaining those very systems of domination. Until we are all able to accept the interlocking, interdependent nature of systems of domination and recognize specific ways each system is maintained, we will continue to act in ways that undermine our individual quest for freedom and collective liberation struggle. – Love as the Practice of Freedom , in Outlaw Culture , 1994

As part of this approach, bell hooks challenged assumptions within second-wave feminism (~1960s – 1980s) that focused on patriarchy as isolated from, or as a foundation for, other forms of oppression. In doing so, she helped create space to explore the challenges of navigating power structures that are relational depending on where we are each located within the dynamic matrix of class, race, and gender.

Imagine living in a world where we can all be who we are, a world of peace and possibility. Feminist revolution alone will not create such a world; we need to end racism, class elitism, imperialism. – Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center , 2000

This approach was influential, with many of the ideas she articulated further developed by those examining, and agitating against, interdependent oppressive structures – debates that paved the way for intersectional feminism . For instance, bell hooks frequently detailed examples of overlapping identities uniquely impacted by multiple systems of oppression in ways that resemble the concept of intersectionality as articulated by Kimberlé Crenshaw .

Meanwhile, bell hooks also drew attention to the historical contingencies of instances of oppressive structures in specific local situations. This approach highlights our collective responsibility for challenging the interconnected structures of power these local instances each perpetuate. Building on bell hooks ideas offers avenues for accepting this responsibility and helping to build new pathways forward.

For examples of bell hooks writings that explore these interconnected structures of power, see:

  • Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism , 1981 (2nd edition, 2015 )
  • Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center , 1984 (2nd edition, 2000 ; 3rd edition, 2014 )
  • Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black , 1989 (2nd edition, 2015 )
  • Where We Stand: Class Matters , 2000
  • Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice , 2013

For additional reflections on this aspect of bell hooks’ contributions, see:

  • How Do You Practice Intersectionalism? An Interview with bell hooks , an interview by Randy Lowens, 2009; re-published in 2019 for Black Rose – Anarchist Federation
  • How bell hooks Paved the Way for Intersectional Feminism , article for them by Elyssa Goodman, 2019

Practising love, as a verb, is a pathway to justice

bell hooks also helped to articulate the notion of love as a verb — a concept that shifts attention away from love as an abstract sentiment and onto the concrete manifestation of will demonstrated by intentional actions (such as care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust).

For bell hooks, love is an act of a transformative labour that offers an important pathway for communities surviving and challenging the imperialist-white-supremacist-capitalist-heteropatriarchy systems of oppression.

Acknowledging the truth of our reality, both individual and collective, is a necessary stage for personal and political growth. This is usually the most painful stage in the process of learning to love. – Love as the Practice of Freedom , in Outlaw Culture , 1994

This approach presents love as an act of communion with the world rather than between individuals alone. Drawing inspiration from Martin Luther King and others, bell hooks rejected the comodification of love as the passive indulgences of isolated romances.

To love well is the task in all meaningful relationships, not just romantic bonds. – All About Love: New Visions , 1999

Building on this, bell hooks helped to articulate how the work of cultivating love can be transformative for both individuals and communities. With this insistent theorising of love, bell hooks helped resist the dismissal of love as ‘too soft’ a topic for serious scholars – opening up space to examine the central role of love in almost every political question.

bell hooks exploration of the transformative power of love for communities has been particularly influential within social justice movements. For instance, her ideas are frequently referenced within activist resource lists, such as in efforts to develop transformative justice practices and community-led design .

For examples of bell hooks explorations of the concept of love as a verb, see:

  • Sisters of the Yam 1993
  • Love as the Practice of Freedom – in Outlaw Culture , 1994 ; (2nd edition, 2006 )
  • Homemade Love – one of bell hooks’ children books, illustrated by Shane W Evans, 2017
  • All About Love 2000
  • Salvation: Black People and Love , 2001

For some additional reflections on bell hooks’ account of love as a pathway to justice, see:

  • How bell hooks Theorised Love , article on Live Wire by Stuti Roy 2021
  • Loving Ourselves Free: Radical Acceptance in bell hooks’ ‘All About Love: New Visions’ , article for Arts Help by Shakeelah Ismail, 2021

According to bell hooks, teaching should be an engaged practice that empowers critical thinking and enhances community connection.

Viewed in this way, teaching and learning become revolutionary acts that position classrooms as sites of mutual participation that cultivates joyful transformations (for students and teachers alike).

As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence. – Teaching to Transgress , 1994

While initially focusing on tertiary education, bell hooks’ explorations of the activist potential of teaching practices extended to all educational activities – not just those occurring within educational institutions, but also teaching/learning within our communities more broadly. Combined with her ideas on love as a pathway to justice, this view positions teaching/learning an important way of contributing to our collective liberation from intersecting oppressive systems.

Along with others, such as Paolo Freire, Frantz Fanon, and Audre Lorde, bell hooks’ ideas about the transformative potential of engaged teaching helped to establish the field of radical pedagogy – which, in turn, contributed to respectfully engaged teaching practices, variously known as participatory teaching, active learning, progressive education , etc.

Education as the practice of freedom affirms healthy self esteem in students as it promotes their capacity to be aware and live consciously. It teaches them to reflect and act in ways that further self-actualization, rather than conformity to the status quo. – Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope , 2003

The following books offer some of bell hook’s explorations into the details of how and why the practice of teaching can, and should , be treated as a form of activism.

  • Theory as Liberatory Practice , 1991
  • Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom , 1994
  • Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope , 2003
  • Teaching Critical Thinking , 2009

For some further reflections on bell hooks’ ideas about teaching, see:

  • Teaching to Transgress Today: Theory and Practice In and Outside the Classroom – video recording of a lecture by Imani Perry, followed by a discussion with bell hooks, Karlyn Crowley, Zillah Eisenstein, and Shannon Winnubst, 2014
  • To bell hooks & not being happy till we are all free , reflection by Folúkẹ́ Adébísí, 2021

Contextualising bell hooks’ contributions

  • A list of bell hooks’ books, by Shippenburg University Library, 1981 – 2021
  • The catalogue of bell hook’s 13 appearances on the C-SPAN network , 1995 – 2005
  • IMBD – bell hooks , list of appearances and credits for documentaries, 1994 – 2017
  • A play list of the 22 videos collected from bell hooks’ lectures and conversations at The New School, New York City , 2013 – 2015
  • Nothing Never Happens: A Radical Pedagogy Podcast – bell hooks archive , 2017 – 2018
  • List of article authored by bell hooks for the Buddhist publication Lion’s Roar , 1998 – 2021
  • bell hooks – tagged writings in the adrianne maree brown’s blog , 2014-2021
  • To Read bell hooks Was to Love Her , a Vulture Media Network reading list by Tao Leigh Goffe, 2021
  • Guide to Source Material for Anti-Racist Activists and Thinkers – bell hooks , by Shippenburg University Library, 2021
  • Black History Month Library
  • Video recording of an interview for the release of All About Love: New Visions by John Seigenthaler, broadcast by Word on Words, 1990
  • Tender Hooks — Author bell hooks wonders what’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding , interview by Lisa Jervis at Bitch Media, 2000; re-published in 2021 as Remembering bell hooks in Her Own Words
  • A Conversation with bell hooks , video recording of the 2004-05 Danz Lecture Series by University of Washington. This talk focuses on concepts of ‘family values’, heterosexism, and the distinction between patriarchal masculinity and masculinity; talk includes bell hooks reading two of her children’s books and is followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
  • Challenging Capitalism & Patriarchy , an interview with bell hooks by Third World Viewpoint, 2007
  • bell hooks in dialogue with john a. powell , a video recording of the keynote event for the Othering & Belonging Conference, 2015
  • Building a Community of Love: bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hanh , 2017
  • Archive of bell hooks’ Papers , held at Berea College, including correspondence, writings, academic work, and video recordings
  • Encyclopaedia of feminist icons: The Essential bell hooks , introductory article by Stephanie Newman published on the blog Writing on Glass
  • Big Thinker: bell hooks ,  article for the Ethics Center by Kate Prendergast, 2019
  • bell hooks speaks up , article in The Sandspur (Vol 112 Issue 17, pp.1-2) quoting bell hooks, by Heather Williams, 2013
  • Critical Perspectives on Bell Hooks , collection of academic articles edited by George Yancy, and Maria del Guadalupe Davidson, 2009
  • The Teaching Philosophy of Bell Hooks: The Classroom as a Site for Passionate Interrogation , academic text by K.O. Lanier, 2001

research paper on bell hooks

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  • Author: Commons Volunteer Librarian , E. T. Smith
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Feminist Reclamations of Masculinity

  • Open Access
  • First Online: 31 August 2022

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research paper on bell hooks

  • Ben Almassi 2  

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Resistance to discarding manhood and masculinity comes from not only conservatives but also avowed feminists like bell hooks, who sought to reclaim masculinity as not just compatible with but grounded in feminist values and projects. We turn in this chapter to feminist reclamations of masculinity, most notably (though not limited to) hooks’ We Real Cool and The Will to Change . There is a lot to admire in these efforts to reclaim feminist masculinity; much of what they identify as constituting better, more just, more mindful masculinity are indeed good human qualities. Yet as a viable guide for feminist men, these accounts fall short in one way or another.

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  • Feminist masculinity
  • Partnership
  • Visionary feminism

Not all resistance to rejecting masculinity and embracing androgyny has come from those who are antagonistic to feminism. bell hooks is one visionary feminist who has warned against discarding manhood or masculinity too quickly. In Feminism is for Everyone ( 2000 ), We Real Cool ( 2004a ), and The Will to Change ( 2004b ), she sees feminist masculinity as a loving alternative to patriarchal masculinity. “Undoubtedly,” hooks says, “one of the first revolutionary acts of visionary feminism must be to restore maleness and masculinity as an ethical biological category” ( 2004b , 114).

There is much to admire in hooks’ and others’ efforts to reclaim masculinity; many of the things they identify as constitutive of a better kind of masculinity are indeed virtuous human qualities. In the later chapters of this book, I try to follow their lead in locating feminist masculinity between hegemonic patriarchal masculinity on one side and feminist rejections of masculinity on the other. But as written, these accounts of feminist masculinity are crucially incomplete; key theoretical and practical questions remain unanswered. Can feminist masculinity offer us a meaningful alternative to feminist androgyny while recognizing and respecting the diversity of men’s, women’s, and non-binary people’s experiences and identities? What makes love, justice, empathy, courage, or other virtuous qualities constitutive of feminist masculinity without presuming that masculinity is just whatever male people happen to do? Addressing these questions will find us both building on and going beyond these existing visions of feminist masculinity.

Envisioning Feminist Masculinity

bell hooks long championed a vision of feminist change in which men can play productive roles as comrades in struggle ( 1984 , 67). Her vision is grounded in two claims that are sometimes seen as conflicting: that patriarchy oppresses women and harms women and men. “These two realities co-exist” ( 1984 , 73). Footnote 1 In emphasizing these simple but vital ideas and their interconnections, hooks takes herself to diverge from defenders of traditional masculinity and many feminist critics, both of whom assume that because patriarchy and feminism are inherently incompatible, this means that feminism has nothing to offer men and men have nothing to offer feminism. But this is to conflate patriarchy and masculinity. “The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity,” hooks explains, “it is a crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we make this distinction clear, men will continue to fear that any critique of patriarchy represents a threat” ( 2004b , 32).

Her defense of feminist masculinity did not mean hooks was unsympathetic to the presumptive conflict between men’s happiness and women’s liberation. “I often wished the men in my life would die,” she writes. “Women and children all over the world want men to die so that they can live. This is the most painful truth of male domination” ( 2004b , xv). Yet male-exclusionary feminism fails to acknowledge another important truth—“that we need men in our lives, that men are in our lives, whether we want them to be or not, that we need men to challenge patriarchy, that we need men to change” ( 2004b , xvi). This continues a theme from Feminism is for Everyone : “activists who call on all women to reject men refused to look at either the caring bonds women shared with men or the economic and emotional ties (however positive or negative) that bind women to men who are sexist” ( 2000 , 69). Indeed, even in her earliest work hooks criticized male-exclusionary feminism not only for failing to envision loving alternatives to patriarchy but also for reflecting the unacknowledged race-based and class-based privileges of bourgeois white women. She takes up a more intersectional view of race, class, and gender grounded in recognition of black women’s and men’s shared experiences of collective action:

There is a special tie binding people together who struggle collectively for liberation. Black women and men have been united by such ties. It is the experience of shared resistance struggle that led black women to reject the anti-male stance of some feminist activists. ( 1984 , 69)

hooks returns throughout her work to stories of men in her life who have been not just disappointed but devalued and degraded by a dominator model of manhood; “the primary genocidal threat, the force that endangers black male life,” she writes, “is patriarchal masculinity” ( 2004a , 32).

bell hooks described herself as a visionary feminist for a reason. For her, the beliefs that men have nothing to offer feminism and feminism has nothing to offer men both stem from the absence of a clear vision of what feminist manhood might look like. Patriarchy is invested in obscuring any such vision, hooks argues, and for far too long feminism has failed to adequately articulate one. “How can you become what you cannot imagine?” she asks ( 2000 , 32). This emphasis on the need for alternative forms of masculinity is rooted not only in solidarity with other women but also her love for men with whom she stands in relationships of interdependency, men like her grandfather, her brother, her longtime partner, and her students. In The Will to Change , hooks shares a story of a student struggling with how to follow the example set by his father:

He tells me and the other men who sit in our circle of love, ‘I just think of what my father would do and do the opposite.’ Everyone laughs. I affirm this practice, adding only that it is not enough to stay in the space of reaction, that being simply reactive is always to risk allowing that shadowy past to overtake the present. ( 2004b , 10)

hooks contends that men can and do benefit by challenging presumptive gender roles. Yet the sort of challenge that she envisions cannot merely reshuffle and react to traditional masculinity: it must face and critique patriarchy directly. This was her issue with the mythopoetic men’s movement of the 1990s, which “did not consistently demand that men challenge patriarchy or envision liberating models of masculinity” ( 2004b , 113). If these reclamations of masculinity fall short, so too do pro-feminist calls to give up masculinity entirely. To those who “suggest that we need to do away with the term, that we need ‘an end to manhood’,” hooks objects that “such a stance furthers the notion that there is something inherently evil, bad, or unworthy about maleness” ( 2004b , 115). This notion is contrary to feminist love for men and boys and so contrary to her vision for feminist masculinity.

We can see hooks’ positive vision of masculinity in her contrast between models of domination and models of partnership (see also Collins 2006 , 91–93):

To offer men a different way of being, we must first replace the dominator model with a partnership model that sees interbeing and interdependency as the organic relationship of all living beings. In the partnership model selfhood, whether one is female or male, is always at the core of one’s identity. Patriarchal masculinity teaches males to be pathologically narcissistic, infantile, and psychologically dependent for self-definition on the privileges (however relative) that they receive from having been born male... In a partnership model male identity like its female counterpart would be centered around the notion of an essential goodness that is inherently relationally oriented. ( 2004b , 117)

hooks further articulates her vision of feminist masculinity as non-dominating, loving masculinity with particular emphasis on the value of interdependency:

Feminist masculinity presupposes that it is enough for males to be to have value, that they do not have to ‘do,’ to ‘perform,’ to be affirmed and loved. Rather than defining strength as ‘power over,’ feminist masculinity defines strength as one’s capacity to be responsible for self and others. This strength is a trait males and females need to possess. ( 2004b , 117)

Building upon Olga Silverstein’s characterization of feminist masculinity as chiefly constituted by integrity, self-love, emotional awareness, assertiveness, relational skill, and capacities for empathy, autonomy, and interconnection, hooks identifies “the core of feminist masculinity” as a “commitment to gender equality and mutuality as crucial for interbeing and partnership in the creating and sustaining of life” ( 2004b , 118).

What emerges in these passages is an alternative to masculinity as domination, one that resists the move to androgyny and does so on explicitly feminist grounds. Where patriarchy demands that “real men must prove their manhood by idealizing aloneness and disconnection,” masculinity as hooks envisions it enables men to see themselves differently, “that they become more real through the act of connecting with others, through building community” ( 2004b , 121). So understood, men enact and embody feminist masculinity through active and loving participation in relationships of reciprocity, mutuality, and interdependence.

Real Men and Just Guys

If bell hooks came to the reclamation of masculinity through her commitment to loving, visionary feminism, other scholars have arrived at a similar destination through their work in masculinities and men’s studies. Michael Kimmel is one such particularly influential figure, having contributed to the sociology of men and masculinity in scholarly and popular books, edited collections, public lectures, and his work with the National Organization of Men against Sexism (NOMAS). Kimmel has consistently identified himself and his work as profeminist and reaffirmed the importance of centering gender studies on the feminist recognition of women’s systematic oppression and men’s systematic privilege. Footnote 2 The idea that men as beneficiaries of sexism are fundamentally incompatible with feminism is a serious problem, Kimmel says. “To be a man means to be an oppressor. Thus we—men who could support feminism—cannot be said to exist if the polar dichotomy by which they see the world is to remain in place” ( 1998 , 61). The concern is not that men are inescapably anti-feminist but that because gender privilege is “indelibly inscribed onto men, and men embody it whether they choose to or not, then the only possibility for men to be redeemed is for them to renounce masculinity itself. One simply cannot be a man and support feminism” ( 1998 , 63.)

Here Kimmel is voicing (though not himself endorsing) a position incompatible with feminist masculinity, one allowing only for men’s repudiation of masculinity or strict political delineation between men and women. Kimmel himself is more optimistic that men can constructively take up the problem of male privilege:

Pro-feminism, a position that acknowledges men’s experience without privileging it, possesses the tools to both adequately analyze men’s aggregate power, and also describe the ways in which individual men are both privileged by that social level of power and feel powerless in the face of it. ( 1998 , 64)

Throughout his work Kimmel characterizes masculinity as ever changing and manhood as socially constructed while challenging the assumption that manhood and masculinity must be inimical to feminist values. Rebuking “the implicit equation of manhood with oppression and inequality–as if real men support injustice” ( 1998 , 67), Kimmel’s positive view of masculinity is that really real men support justice.

This identification of real, good manhood with ethics and justice carries through into Guyland , Kimmel’s popular critical appraisal of American manhood today for mostly straight, white, middle and upper-class men in the years before, during, and after their time spent at four-year universities. “Guyland” as Kimmel theorizes it is a relatively recent socio-historical phenomenon, an arrested development between adolescence and adulthood and (not unrelatedly) a notably gendered period of life. Masculinity in Guyland is constantly policed by other men and tightly prescribed as both not-feminine and not-gay. Women are indirectly yet significantly affected as well, Kimmel argues, insofar as their own sexualities and relationships with the guys of Guyland are tightly prescribed and limited accordingly.

The central question for Kimmel is not how to avoid Guyland, which is a stage of development, but rather how to make the constructive transition from Guyland into adulthood in better ways. Here adulthood is understood in traditional demographic terms: completing education, holding a job, getting married, having kids, moving out of one’s parents’ house, and so on ( 2008 , 122). In envisioning men’s healthy transitions out of Guyland masculinity, Kimmel contrasts “just” guys with just guys: “guys who are capable of acting ethically, of doing the right thing, of standing up to the centripetal pull of Guyland. Guys can become everyday heroes. They can actually become men” ( 2008 , 267).

Manhood so conceived becomes associated with achieving adulthood and doing the right thing. The “new model” of masculinity with which Kimmel concludes Guyland is put in these terms:

[B]eing a real man is not going along with what you know in your heart to be cruel, inhumane, stupid, humiliating, and dangerous. Being a real man means doing the right thing, standing up to immorality and injustice when you see it, and expressing compassion, not contempt, for those who are less fortunate. In other words, it’s about being courageous. ( 2008 , 287)

Notice how this new model of masculinity retains a normative aspiration, where virtues of courage and compassion are gendered for “real men.” Kimmel echoes and expands the “new definition of masculinity for a new century” that he previously sketched in Manhood in America . In the earlier text, Kimmel argued for democratic manhood distinct from traditional masculinity and androgyny, the latter of which he characterized as “blurring of masculinity and femininity into a mélange of some vaguely defined human qualities” ( 1996 , 334). Democratic manhood is instead composed of old and new “masculine virtues” including compassion, nurturing, egalitarianism, dependability, self-reliance, strength, purpose, and a commitment to justice and ethical action.

Where mythopoetic men like Robert Bly ( 1990 ) and Sam Keen ( 1992 ) insist that initiation into wild-manhood can only be led by other men, Kimmel is happy to acknowledge the important roles that women play in guiding guys into manhood/adulthood ( 2008 , 272). But he also emphasizes that fathers have a special duty to resist their own temptations of regression. “When fathers resist the urge to identify with Guyland,” Kimmel says, “they can model empathic manhood and enrich their sons’ lives with a concrete example of what honor and integrity look like [and] show their sons that there are real alternatives to Guyland in which responsibility and accountability and self-respect are qualities that should be strived for” ( 2008 , 277).

Making Masculinity Meaningful

hooks and Kimmel exhibit perceptive attention to men’s relationships to feminism; both identify and seek to defend sensible, valuable qualities for men as constructive alternatives to patriarchal masculinity. As we think about how to differentiate feminist masculinity from not only traditional forms of masculinity but also androgyny and femininity, however, a curious problem remains. Let us agree that courage, compassion, empathy, self-love, opposition to injustice, and a commitment to gender equality are valuable human qualities, and certainly important for the pursuit of feminist change. Let us also agree that many men lack such qualities, in part because patriarchal masculinity frames them as incompatible with real manhood. What remains as yet unclear is how these feminist alternatives are meaningfully constitutive of masculinity . Why should we see men who embody and enact such qualities as performing a kind of masculinity rather than embodying and enacting gender non-specific human virtues?

The answer is not that only male people can or even should embody these qualities, of course. For her part, hooks explicitly sees the partnership model as something both women and men can and should participate in, such that “male identity, like its female counterpart, would be centered around the notion of an essential goodness that is inherently relationally oriented.” In arguing that feminist masculinity defines strength as “one’s capacity to be responsible for self and others,” she also sees strength-as-responsibility as “a trait males and females need to possess” (hooks 2004b , 117). Feminist masculinity for hooks is built around a deep commitment to gender equality and mutuality, and yet she also recognizes this commitment as important for feminist women too. How then do men become “more real” by participating in community-building and interconnection, on this view of feminist manhood, if this work and interconnection are also constitutive of feminist womanhood? To the extent that these worthy qualities and practices are identified and advanced as worthwhile for women and men, how do they give meaning to a kind of feminist masculinity rather than, say, a feminist ideal of androgyny?

Recall Sterba’s description of feminist androgyny as “a broader base ideal for both women and men that combines virtues and desirable traits traditionally associated with women with virtues and desirable traits traditionally associated with men” ( 1998 , 292). The feminist reclamation of masculinity that hooks advocates would seem to do this: it rejects traditionally masculine traits of domination and disconnection and embraces traits of empathy, mutuality, and self-love. hooks recognizes these traits as necessary for female as well as male people, which makes her caution against calls for an end to manhood and her characterization of the embodiment of such traits as a kind of masculinity puzzling. Here I echo River Fagan’s simultaneous appreciation for hooks and critical assessment that her account of masculinity “seemed to be simply a description of a healthy person not a healthy man; nothing in it felt specific to manhood or masculinity” ( 2013 , 37).

The puzzle is no easier when we turn to Kimmel’s vision of just guys, democratic manhood, and a model of masculinity in which acting ethically, doing the right thing, and standing up to injustice are ways that guys become better men. For example, being a “real man” is about courage, and yet Kimmel surely will agree that women can be courageous and stand up for justice too, and it is not as though in being courageous these women thereby embody or perform masculinity. Such virtues are not distinctive of masculinity and manhood as Kimmel recommends them, even as they are presented as constitutive of masculinity and manhood as he articulates them.

A recent exchange between Kimmel and Lisa Wade on toxic masculinity shows how slippery things can get. Here Kimmel notes that admirable traits such as honor, integrity, accountability, and doing the right thing are frequently associated with men and masculinity. He is happy to make use of those associations in conversations about “what it means to be a good man,” and yet he also recognizes that these really are just good human traits (Kimmel and Wade 2018 , 238). “I think what we want to do is gradually, over time, we need to degender those ideas because being a good man is being a good person” ( 2018 , 249). While reasonable, “it also sounds like a way of tricking men,” Wade cautions. “So have we given them a good place to land as men ?” ( 2018 , 249, emphasis original). Here it seems to me that Wade is asking Kimmel whether there is anything to his recommendations for good, just manhood and masculinity beyond their rhetorical functions, and Kimmel for his part declines to reassure her otherwise:

I think when we were talking about being a good man, that those really were traits that we would agree–you and I would agree–were about being a good person. I think men still experience that in a very gendered way. They think that’s about manhood, and I’m okay with them thinking that and expanding the definition. [ 2018 , 251]

If his discussions of what it means to be a good man are mainly rhetorical rather than substantive, some might see in Kimmel’s account of what it takes to escape Guyland and achieve adulthood in terms of traditional markers of success (degree, job, wife, kids, home) something more distinctive of manhood specifically. Recall his characterization of fathers modeling their manhood in terms of taking responsibility. But taking that route would seem to lead back to some sort of traditional patriarchal masculinity rather than to a meaningfully feminist alternative. Associating manhood with adulthood as typically conceived is problematic for at least two reasons. It both disassociates these markers of success from women or gender non-binary people who might value and achieve them and undermines the manhood of those men blocked by homophobia, classism, racism, and other forms of oppression from attaining success so defined.

An ideal of androgyny capable of grounding a visionary feminism in which all women and men are free to organize their lives and relationships entirely unconstrained by gender seems especially fitting for bell hooks’ emancipatory aspirations. She returns throughout her work to the need to grant boys “the same rights as girls” and for boys and men “every right that we desire for girls and women” ( 2000 , 71, 2004b , 111). She locates the start of her own critical thinking on maleness in childhood, specifically in witnessing the distinctly gendered ways in which she and her brother were treated. “Although we were often confused, we knew one fact for certain: we could not be and act the way we wanted to, doing what we felt like. It was clear to us that our behavior had to follow a predetermined, gendered script” ( 2004b , 19). hooks describes how this development was bad not only for her but her brother too, forced as he was to harden himself and close himself off from emotion. What comes through clearly in her account is a longing for that time before gender was introduced to and prescribed for them, a time when sister and brother were both free to follow their childhood muses.

Yet hooks also emphatically insists that there is something worth saving in maleness, manhood, and masculinity divorced from patriarchy. The “essential goodness of male being” ( 2004b , 33), “essential goodness of maleness” (124), and “affirmation of that which is positive and potentially positive in male being” (166) play a significant role in her thinking. It is something that male-exclusionary feminism ignores, patriarchy masculinity cannot admit, and visionary feminism must celebrate. “Male being, maleness, masculinity must stand for the essential core goodness of the self, of the human body that has a penis,” hooks maintains. Contrary to feminist repudiations of masculinity, she champions “a creative loving response that can separate maleness and manhood from all the identifying traits patriarchy has imposed on the self that has a penis” (114–115). But where exactly does this leave us?

One might try to frame the various admirable qualities that hooks and Kimmel each identify as constituting an alternative masculinity rather than patriarchal masculinity or genderless humanity by stipulating that such qualities are constitutive of masculinity just in case they are embodied by men or boys. To express the idea somewhat formally, a trait or quality x is taken to be constitutive of masculinity, even though it is not unique to those who are masculine, because x is stipulated as constitutive of masculinity when it is associated with a male human body. For example, we could identify courage, love, and empathy as part of feminist masculinity while recognizing that women and gender non-binary people are also courageous, loving, and empathic without this making them masculine as a result because being courageous, loving, or empathic is (so the argument goes) only masculinizing for men and boys.

I worry that this sort of reclaimed masculinity has significant problems on both conceptual and feminist grounds, however. Beyond bald stipulation, it does not seem to meaningfully differentiate between masculinity so defined and an ideal of androgyny. Both allow that everyone can be wise, courageous, caring, and so on; then this model of feminist masculinity rather superfluously insists that these things are masculine for men and boys. In that case, what has the repudiation of manhood and masculinity lost that this conception of feminist masculinity retains? bell hooks is committed to disentangling maleness and manhood from patriarchal masculinity for many reasons, among which is the need for feminist love—to love men and boys, and to enable men and boys to love. And yet to affirm that men and boys as human persons deserve love and are capable of love does not require loving maleness . To affirm that men and boys like women and girls have within us an “essential core goodness of the self” does not require an “essential goodness of male being,” unless we can explain how maleness is essential to the core self of those socialized to be men and boys. This of course is exactly what feminist analyses of manhood mean to challenge.

We may further worry that this attempt to reframe masculinity is at odds with the identities and lived experiences of many men, women, and gender non-binary people. hooks’ repeated evocation of “the human body that has a penis” as synonymous with maleness and manhood would seem to presume that one’s gender identity can simply be read off one’s anatomy. Yet not all men self-identify as biologically male, nor do all men have a penis, nor do all those who have a penis identify as men. On its own having a penis is neither necessary nor sufficient for being a man, which makes this a shaky foundation upon which to build an alternative to toxic masculinity. Whatever a viable feminist reclamation of masculinity is going to look like, it cannot deny masculinity of trans men who choose not to (or have yet to) pursue anatomical change, nor presumptively foist manhood or masculinity onto all human persons with so-called male anatomy. Such implications would fall short of even the most minimal requirements for intersex- and trans-positive feminist theorizing (e.g., Fausto-Sterling 2000 ; Heyes 2003 ; Bettcher 2014 ). If we are going to follow hooks in reclaiming masculinity on feminist grounds, we will need to be able to account for what makes it both meaningfully, distinctively feminist and meaningfully, distinctively masculine.

Mindful (of) Masculinity

This challenge for hooks and Kimmel also holds for other recent reclamations of masculinity that are, if not explicitly feminist themselves, then at least critical of traditional masculinity and neutral or sympathetic to feminism. Recall Liz Plank’s advocacy of mindful masculinity in her 2019 book For the Love of Men . Plank makes it clear that she believes in a world beyond gender, but at the same time she sees a need for positive masculinity. In the conclusion of her book, Plank draws this lesson from a conversation with Michael Kimmel, that “masculinity wasn’t toxic, it was the monster masquerading as masculinity that was” ( 2019 , 289). She continues:

It’s by attending to masculinity that we can heal it. Mindful masculinity is how we can cleanse it from all the lies it’s been associated with. It encourages men to look inward to remain connected to all those things that make them a good man instead of the unhelpful trash they’ve inadvertently absorbed and are carrying around about what it means to be a ‘real man.’ Being mindful about our gender means we awaken ourselves to the habits and behaviors we’ve automatically come to identify with and choose which ones serve us and which ones don’t. [294]

Plank is urging men to be mindful, intentional rather than passive about our habits and behaviors, and with this I couldn’t agree more. But if mindful masculinity is not about shunning masculinity but rather claiming it back, what is being reclaimed? Courage, self-awareness, and control of one’s emotions and one’s mental health are identified with mindful masculinity, yet Plank would surely agree that these qualities are equally available to women and non-binary people. The question that goes unanswered is why we should see these human qualities as masculine-making and why men’s mindfulness is best understood as a reset of gender rather than a way to move beyond it.

Edward Adams and Ed Frauenheim attempt a similar reclamation project in their 2020 book Reinventing Masculinity , which begins with a critical analysis of the “confined masculinity” that characterizes men’s lives today and throughout much of human history. Confined masculinity is overly rigid and traditional, outdated and unhealthy. “It is a constrained conception of masculinity, one in which men tend to define themselves as playing just a few dominant roles—the protector, the provider, and the conqueror” (Adams and Frauenheim 2020 , Introduction). These roles do have a place, they argue, as do traditional masculine traits like strength, valor, and courage, when they are incorporated into a more expansive, interconnected, liberating conception of masculinity. This “liberating masculinity” as they envision it is quite comfortable with men being tender and caring, comfortable with women being assertive and autonomous, and also comfortable with (though not limited to) the aforementioned roles of confined masculinity. Most of all, Adams and Frauenheim explain, it is a shift from “me” thinking to “me and we” thinking:

Instead of the self-absorption found in confined masculinity, a liberating man recognizes the impact of his actions or inactions on others. He therefore applies his courage, might, and perseverance in service to others. In this way, liberating masculinity is a virtuous masculinity. ( 2020 , Introduction)

To traditional masculine behaviors like confidence, competition, and physical courage, liberating masculinity will add curiosity, compassion, and commitment to personal growth. At times Adams and Frauenheim sound like hooks: “Liberating masculinity is virtuous and relational. It is virtuous because it espouses positive actions that are of benefit to both the self and others; and it’s relational because it recognizes that everything is interconnected” ( 2020 , Ch. 2). This sort of reinvention of masculinity is nontoxic, good for ourselves, and good for those with whom we are interconnected and interdependent.

The challenge facing liberating masculinity is similar to one we raised for Kimmel’s democratic manhood. Adams and Frauenheim are not just describing a change they see among modern men but advocating liberating masculinity as a better way for men to be men. Consider for example the place for traditionally patriarchal roles of the protector and provider in this reimagined masculinity. If these now-transformed roles as the authors envision them are open not only to men but people generally, then either those who perform these roles thereby participate in liberating masculinity or they do not. Like Wollstonecraft on rational masculinity, Adams and Frauenheim could extend liberating masculinity to men, women, and non-binary people who act as protectors and providers. This does not seem to be their intent, however, so it then seems arbitrary to identify these social roles as part of a liberating masculinity when men perform them but not when other people do so. Adams and Frauenheim could restrict their reimagined versions of protector and provider roles to men only, but then this not-so-new spin on traditional masculinity would contradict their crucial claim that liberating masculinity is also supportive of women’s autonomy, of their freedom to live their lives as they themselves choose.

It is worth noting that confining and liberating masculinity are modeled after Shoma Morita’s concepts of the confined and extended selves. Adams and Frauenheim happily acknowledge the debt. But as the extended self that Morita describes does not seem to be meaningfully gendered, this then raises the question why confined men should not work toward a gender-free liberating extended self rather than reimagined masculinity. The conceptual confusion extends to individual character traits. Consider compassion, for example, which Adams and Frauenheim describe both as a “gender-free trait” ( 2020 , Conclusion) and “at the heart of essential masculine traits” ( 2020 , Ch. 2) for liberating masculinity. Can it be both? Like air and water, compassion is indeed vital for men and for all people regardless of gender. It can be useful, even liberating to identify compassion as something that differentiates traditional masculinity from the nontoxic alternative(s) we seek. What remains mysterious, however, is how it could be at once essentially masculine and also gender-free.

“Being a real man doesn’t have to mean setting oneself up in binary opposition to femininity,” writes Shira Tarrant ( 2009 , 88). “Real masculinity can involve valuing a wide range of emotions, experiences, preferences, desires, and accomplishments of all people.” If masculinity is worth saving, Tarrant is surely right about this, and I fully agree that masculinity need not be set in binary opposition to femininity. Depending on how we make sense of these ideas, one person can embody, perform, or otherwise participate in masculinity, femininity, neither or both of them. The recurring challenge for multiple recent reclamations of masculinity is when a property or activity is taken to be constitutive of masculinity as opposed to abandoning masculinity even as that same property or activity is acknowledged as equally compatible with non-masculinity in others. This challenge of differentiation may not be an insurmountable problem, but it is one that a consistent, meaningful account of feminist masculinity must reckon with.

As Alison Bailey ( 2021 , 6) reminds us, “All persons who are oppressed are harmed, but not all persons who are harmed are oppressed.”

In August 2018, reports of sexual harassment and professional misconduct were made against Kimmel by multiple former graduate students, detailing unwelcome sexual advances, deadnaming trans scholars, and inequitable treatment of straight male vs. female, queer, and non-binary students (Flaherty 2018 ). Kimmel’s response at the time was that he took the charges seriously and would “make amends to those who believe I have injured them” (Mangan 2018 ), but since then he has made no public apology nor acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Whether scholars should avoid citing or engaging with his work in light of these reports and his subsequent silence is a difficult question (Flood 2018 ; Jensen 2018 ; McCourt 2019 ), but at present I am unaware of any general call to do so. My own discussion of Kimmel on manhood and masculinity is intended to be critical and dialectical rather than an appeal to his intellectual or moral authority.

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Almassi, B. (2022). Feminist Reclamations of Masculinity. In: Nontoxic: Masculinity, Allyship, and Feminist Philosophy. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-13071-7_4

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research paper on bell hooks

bell hooks papers

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The bell hooks papers comprise fifteen boxes of business and personal correspondence, published and unpublished writings, news clippings, photographs, and other records documenting the life, research interests, and career of bell hooks. Dr. hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins, 1952-2021) was a scholar, author, and educator, who worked to expose and dismantle the inter-related social ills of sexism, racism, and classism. Her work also explored the meaning and power of love as a tool in the quest for reconciliation and building a more just society.

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Noted intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, poet, and public speaker Gloria Jean Watkins (aka bell hooks) was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky on September 25, 1952, one of the six children of Rosa Bell Oldham Watkins and Veodis Watkins. She graduated from Hopkinsville High School and earned degrees in English Literature from Stanford University (B.A., 1973), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.A., 1976) and the University of California-Santa Cruz (PhD, 1986). Watkins chose the lower case pen name bell hooks, based on her maternal great-grandmother's name, to draw attention to her writings instead of drawing attention to herself. Dr. hooks wrote prolifically. Her bibliography includes scholarly and popular articles, book chapters, and more than forty books, including five children’s books. She taught at UC-Santa Cruz, Yale University, Oberlin College, and City College of New York. bell hooks moved to Berea, Kentucky in 2004 to serve as Distinguished Professor in Residence of Appalachian Studies at Berea College. In 2014 she established the bell hooks Institute at Berea College as a platform for furthering her work. In 2018 hooks was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. Dr. hooks died in Berea on December 15, 2021.

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The bell hooks papers comprise fourteen boxes of business and personal correspondence, published and unpublished writings, news clippings, photographs, and other records documenting the life, research interests, and career of bell hooks. Dr. hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins, 1952-2021) was a scholar, author, and educator, who worked to expose and dismantle many forms of systemic inequality including sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia. Her work also explored the meaning and power of love as a tool in the quest for reconciliation and building a more just society.

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The collection is arranged in five series: Series 1: Correspondence, 1985-2018 Series 2: Writings and Publishing, 1970-2019 Subseries 1: Articles, books, and book chapters Subseries 2: Interviews, Dialogues, and Conversations Subseries 3: Poems, Plays, and Children's Books Subseries 4: Unpublished Writings Series 3: Research and Teaching files, 1984-2006 Series 4: Photographs, Recordings, and Electronic Data, circa 1955-2017 Series 5: Professional and Personal Data, 1976-2018

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research paper on bell hooks

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The application of bell hooks’s pedagogical framework to violin group class and applied lesson scenarios öffentlichkeit deposited, herunterladbarer inhalt.

research paper on bell hooks

Engagement of students from all backgrounds, the creation of a classroom community, and the development of relevant curricula are important facets of an emerging focus on equitable teaching practices in music education (Lewis, 2022). However, often neglected from this important conversation are the voices who have long served and embraced feminist, anti-racist, and transgressive pedagogical frameworks in the classroom and beyond. Gloria Jean Watkins (1952-2021), known by her pen name bell hooks, was an American author and activist known for her foundational writings about race, class, and feminism. As a lifelong teacher and researcher, her pedagogy embodies radical love and openness, claiming education as a means of liberating others and oneself from systems of oppression within society. In this paper, I outline three foundational aspects of her pedagogical framework: 1) her philosophy and purpose: education as a practice of freedom; 2) her vision: the democratic classroom; and 3) the instructional methods she utilizes in pursuit of this vision: engaged pedagogy. In the spirit of hooks's devotion to praxis or the relationship between theory and practice, this paper presents an overview of pre-existing models of music teaching and learning that are aligned with hooks’s vision of engaged pedagogy and outlines its various applications to the violin group class and applied lesson scenarios. Ultimately, hooks believes that the creation of a democratic classroom that values transgression, community, and individual voice leads to a transformed society. 

  • Yamaguchi, Joy
  • College of Music
  • Berg, Margaret H
  • Eckert, Erika L
  • Thomas, Susan R
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • Doctoral Thesis
  • In Copyright
  • English [eng]


The Scholarly Identity of Bell Hooks Research Paper

Introduction, major theoretical influences, writing and research style, publications and contribution to society, works cited.

The scholarly identity of bell hooks is prominent due to her contribution to feminism and the significant impact of her ideas and theories on society. Her concept of intersectionality has become crucial in the contemporary context. In this regard, bell hooks raised the problems of race, gender, and class, including minorities in the discourse and emphasizing the importance of love as a uniting factor (Valdivia 429). As a writer, feminist, and social activist, she challenged her audience to question and criticize the established norms, roles, and concepts. This paper aims to discuss the scholarly identity of Bell Hooks and identify her major theoretical influences, explore her writing and research styles, as well as examine her publications and contributions to society.

The theoretical influences of bell hooks are significant, and her feminist theory is among the most foundational contributions to contemporary research and literature. In her works, she examined the sexism problem and racial oppression (Hooks, Talking Back 50). The writer developed an integrated approach to discussing the fight for equality. The ideas of Bell Hooks formed the basis of intersectional feminism, which views the issue of inequality through the prism of the interconnection among race, sex, and other factors (Hooks, Writing Beyond Race 14). This novel approach to feminism distinguished Hooks’ contribution to this movement.

Another influential theory by bell hooks involves the concept of love. In this regard, the writer approached this phenomenon from the perspective of spirituality (del Guadalupe Davidson and George Yancy 12). For Hooks, love was a fundamental element of society, essential to ensure its functionality as opposed to hierarchy and structure (Hooks, Writing Beyond Race 5). In other words, the writer emphasized the importance of love for promoting a culture of support, trust, and respect, which are generally neglected in a traditional society dominated by certain institutions and power structures.

Furthermore, another critical theory developed by this social activist is related to education. In her “Teaching to Transgress,” Hooks supported the ideas of diversity, freedom, and self-actualization (316). The writer acknowledged the difficulty of creating an inclusive and safe learning environment for students based on her negative experience as a Black woman (Hooks, “Teaching to Transgress” 316). At the same time, hooks’ theory denied a traditional academic approach to education. In this regard, she aimed to establish a free and passion-centered educational practice to promote excitement and enthusiasm in students. Hooks believed theory was relevant when it could be integrated into life experience (“Essentialism and Experience” 172). Moreover, her theory emphasized the importance of class discussions and a communicative approach that aimed to support self-realization and active participation of students.

In her books, Bell Hooks strategically targeted different social groups with a passionate desire to reach everyone in an efficient way. Therefore, she addressed her writing to men, women, educators, and other audiences. Overall, bell hooks utilized an informal approach to writing, which, for instance, can be seen in her preferred way of spelling her pseudonym. According to del Guadalupe Davidson and George Yancy, the writer justified her choice of a writing and research style by “political decisions motivated by the desire to be inclusive, to reach as many readers as possible in as many different locations” (6). Another trademark of the activist was her use of a straightforward and provocative manner of writing. For instance, Bell Hooks used such phrases as white supremacy or heteropatriarchy to criticize the system and question the ethical aspects of society (Valdivia 429). Overall, Bell Hooks’ writing and research style did not involve the use of footnotes, as motivated by her decision to make knowledge more accessible to different groups of people, regardless of their educational background and learning capabilities.

As can be seen, bell hooks aimed to connect with her audience through her writing. The publications of the activist comprised a wide range of subjects, including the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender, as well as the creation and maintenance of systems of oppression and class domination (Hooks, “Essentialism and Experience” 175). Overall, Bell Hooks published numerous scientific articles and books, appeared in documentaries, and participated in public lectures (del Guadalupe Davidson and George Yancy 23). She addressed the problems of race, class, gender, education, art, history, sexuality, media, and feminism, contributing to the development of society and promoting a supportive and loving approach as a foundation for growth. In this regard, the writer believed that teaching should be aimed at overcoming racial, gender, and class boundaries in order to achieve and maintain freedom.

To conclude, the scholarly identity of bell hooks is worth studying and analyzing due to the unique contributions of this social activist to the world. She supported the concepts of inclusivity and freedom and promoted the idea that the women’s liberation movement was primarily structured around the issues of white women with class privileges. As a result, bell hooks developed several prominent theories to emphasize the importance of equality, love, education, and freedom.

del Guadalupe Davidson, Maria, and George Yancy, editors. Critical Perspectives on Bell Hooks . Routledge, 2009.

Hooks, Bell. “Essentialism and Experience.” American Literary History, vol. 3, no. 1, 1991, pp. 172-183.

Hooks, Bell. “Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom.” Journal of Leisure Research , vol. 28, no. 4, 1996, p. 316.

Hooks, Bell. Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice . Routledge, 2009.

Hooks, Bell. Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black . Routledge, 2015.

Valdivia, Angharad N. “Bell Hooks: Ethics from the Margins.” Qualitative Inquiry , vol. 8, no. 4, 2002, pp. 429-447.

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