People may be surprised to know how much bell hooks loves men–especially black men–but she does.
I say surprised, because the general tendency–especially among men–is to confuse feminist politics and political activism with being anti-men.
So if you couple this tendency (to conflate feminist politics with being anti-men) with the undeniably harsh realities that confront black men in America, then it is easy to see how decades of political activism to teach and educate about patriarchy and sexism in the lives of black folks could cause some people to view bell hooks as being anti-black men.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, a very important part of bell hooks’ intellectual and political project over the years has been to create spaces for men–especially men of color–to do the critical work of examining masculinities and sexualities.
On the one hand, black feminist scholars and activists have always had to point out the systematic advantages that black men have in relation to black women. On the other hand, not many have taken the time to dedicate an entire book to exploring the complex issues that black men face in America.
Yet, this is precisely what bell does in her book We Real Cool: Black Men & Masculinity.
But she does expect men to be part of the movement. In her essay, “Men in Feminist Struggle–The Necessary Movement” she points out the limitations of traditional feminist theory in it’s inability to engage and re-conceptualize masculinity, and she talks passionately about her “deeply felt conviction” that men must play an active role in feminist struggle.