Words like “patriarchal tyranny,” “fascism” and “epistemology” filled the air in the main gym of the Peter Stott Center. The intellectual feminist activist and author bell hooks spoke to a full gym Thursday night.
A line of people eager to hear hooks trailed out of the Peter Stott Center nearly two hours before she spoke. An estimated 1,500 people came for the event titled “Ending Violence and what LOVE has to do with it.”
Recent focus for hooks has been on love. When asked if she was getting soft, she said that that sort of question perpetuates the logic love is not politically important.
She spoke about the changes that she has seen in the nation and in the feminist movement during her lifetime. She said that seeing changes strengthens her hope.
She lived through racial upheaval in the early 1950s, followed by the desegregation of schools.
“We feared that death might be the price we’d have to pay for freedom,” hooks said in reference to the desegregation of schools.
She made many references to the final writings of Dr. Martin Luther King. She noted King’s own focus on love. Speaking of King as a prophet, hooks said he predicted many of the issues we are experiencing now.
Years ago hooks herself spoke about the emergence of fascism in this country with the beginning of surveillance.
“Fascism is unchecked patriarchal rule,” hooks said.
According to hooks, the feminist movement is the promise of choice.
“Feminist movement is vital. It is the only movement that consistently challenges the patriarchal society,” hooks said.
Hooks addressed the need for revolutionary masculinity rooted in love for men. Recently hooks wrote a book for young boys essentially about love.
She also touched on the issue of terrorism.
“If we cannot create love in the space in we’re in, how can people truly believe we make peace with other countries?” hooks asked.
Her speech stressed that love and domination cannot co-exist.
“Love can never take root in a relationship based on domination and coercion,” hooks said.
The night ended with an opportunity for audience members to ask hooks questions.
She was born Gloria Watkins in Hopkinsville, Ky., in 1952. She adopted her lowercase pseudonym as a way to honor her grandmother and mother by taking on their maiden names.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1973, her master’s in 1976 from the University of Wisconsin and her doctorate in 1983 from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Local slam poet Turiya Autry, among other local poets, began the night with readings.
The event was co-sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center and The Rearguard. Donations for the event went to the funding of a Portland State University scholarship for a person from Dignity Village.