Speaking of Women's Rights: Love as Resistance

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Love as Resistance

By Rosann Mariappuram

“Love is an action, never simply a feeling.”
– bell hooks

When I describe Legal Voice’s work I often talk about fighting sexism, dismantling systems of oppression, and building power through the strategic use of law and advocacy. I use language that reflects the pro-active, take-the-offensive approach that I love about Legal Voice’s work. But another powerful way to describe our work is through love. Legal Voice’s work is rooted in love for those we serve and the love we receive from our community of donors, supporters, and allies.

Black feminist scholar bell hooks* constantly centers the radical power of love in her writings. Her essay “Love as a Practice of Freedom” calls for all of us to shape our political vision through an ethic of love. She explains that when we view oppression only through our personal experiences we develop blind-spots; that we seek to end the kinds of hate that directly harm us out of self-interest and self-protection. But blind-spots allow us to maintain the status quo and to be complicit in dominant cultures like racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. An ethic of love takes the opposite approach. Love requires us to expand our point of view and see how systems of oppression are interdependent. Love forces us to stop only looking out for our own needs. Love makes us fight for collective freedom.

hooks also points out that an ethic of love is necessary to address the anguish and pain that dominant culture causes. Love allows us to heal both personally and politically. The number of attacks by the federal government in 2018 on sexual assault survivors, trans and gender-nonconforming people, and immigrants affirms this need for an ethic of love. The communities Legal Voice serves are under attack and only through love can we heal and move forward.

Gratitude is one of my favorite ways to put love into action. So as we wrap up 2018 I send my thanks to each and every person in the Legal Voice community. Our work and this movement wouldn’t be possible without you!

*bell hooks is a celebrated feminist scholar, artist, and writer. She has published over three dozen books including cultural criticisms, personal memoirs, poetry collections, and children's books. Her writings cover gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching, and the role of media. Visit the bell hooks Institute to learn more about her work and life.

Rosann Mariappuram is a 2018–19 If/When/How Reproductive Justice Fellow for Surge and Legal Voice.