Why Bell Hooks’ “All about love” is Now More Relevant Than Ever

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I scrolled on Instagram as I found a book recommendation by Rega Jha (The ex Editor in Chief of Buzzfeed). I was totally intrigued by the title of the book – “All About Love”. I did not want to read yet another cliche book on love and she promised that it wasn’t. This book is the best guide to love which I have read – and it is so for both genders. Especially in the Indian context where men and women are assigned different gender roles, still very prevalent today, the book explains how none of us can really be free when we love. To love freely we need to get rid of the gender roles assigned to us by society. In very few Indian families, people have conversations with each other about issues which affect them, men generally consider it a threat to their masculinity to take a woman’s opinion. The book advises people to break free from such ideology and engage in open communication so that there is better understanding between both parties. 

For those of us who have lost a loved one, the book makes us realise that love is something which cannot just end after death, true love lives on. This is even the case with breakups where you cannot stop loving the person after a break up, you can simply change the nature of your interaction and engagement with them. During the pandemic, break ups and human loss is happening at a greater rate than before, it is necessary to develop an ideology which will build resilience while still keeping our faith in the world. Though the book was published in 2000 (which isn’t a very long time ago), the book is still very relevant today despite changing times. 

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Often we are taught that love lacks a definition, and it’s a feeling which cannot be defined. However, Bell Hooks explains that love is not an emotion, it is an action – more like a verb. You can love someone when you are doing the act of loving them. Love exists when there is a healthy relationship between two people who consider each other as equals. It is a meaningful action which incorporates understanding and makes the other person feel understood despite gender roles. Bell Hooks also explains that many of us cannot define love because we do not have it. This is an interesting philosophy which applies to many rural women who continue to be in toxic relationships and claim to love the man. They also believe that the man loves them back despite his abusive behaviour. Society prevents us from knowing love and accepting that many of our relationships lack love. 

The book also makes strong points towards children’s rights and explains that they shall be given a voice to speak just like any other individual. During the pandemic, there has been an increase in cases of abuse against children in families, reading this book makes us realise that the effects of abusing children can be long term in their lives. No matter the segment of society and the situation, the book is very valid from not only a love point of view, but also from a human rights point of view. 

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Many of us read so many books about love without understanding what love truly is. I think that the book will stay valid for a very long time to come. The book will be relevant till there are violations against human rights in this world, both genders are not treated equally and till long after that. This is one of the most interesting discourses on the idea of love not just romantic, but between partners, families, communities, children and friends which we extend. It gives us a guide to understanding love and ourselves better. Often in schools, when we say our pledges of friendship and love, we are not taught what love means or how to love. The book overcomes that basic gap in education and thereby explains the relevance of loving everyone to the best of our abilities in this world.

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