Bell Hooks: A Literary Analysis

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With the evolution of society, the definition of family is constantly changing. As time goes on, the way people view family is becoming more diverse, and it is no longer limited to the concept of a heteronormative nuclear family consisting of a mother, father and their child(ren). This traditional view of family is becoming less of a norm as society is becoming more accepting of new and different types of families, such as single-parent and same-sex parent families. These societal changes make it easy for the aspect of family to evolve into different terms and meanings. The two authors, Bell Hooks (1990) and Michelle Owen (2001) demonstrate through political and personal perspectives, the way that identity markers such as race, gender and sexuality…show more content…
Hooks’s essay focuses on the struggle that black mothers experience when providing for their family in times of racism, oppression and segregation. An intersectional lens is key in understanding a black mother’s struggle in relation to family. During these times, the experiences of a black mother differs greatly from a white mother. In Hooks’s essay she reveals the responsibilities black mothers had: during the day they worked for white people, in the fields or on the streets in order to make a living, and then were expected to go home and, “…make life happen there” (Hooks 42). It was their job to provide and create an environment that was safe and accepting from all the injustices outside their home for their family. Black women were also subjected to sexism thus being “delegated” to be the providers of the home (Hooks 42) which distinguished a black woman’s role from a black man. There is a sense of contestation within the black family as the woman seems to be the ultimate provider of the family. Similarly, Owen relates this to the struggle lesbian mothers have when it comes to family. To lesbians, the idea of motherhood and starting a family is such a blessing but with motherhood comes adversity. To start off, lesbian mothers are placed at the bottom of the motherhood hierarchy (Owen 92) and are not seen as “fit” parents because they raise their child without a male counterpart. Compared to a heterosexual couple, raising children requires more work as lesbian mothers must, “...prepare their children to face prejudice” (Owen 93). Lesbian mothers struggle in having to prove to society that being a “normal” family does not mean the traditional nuclear ideal. They also must combat ideological contestations about their families and keep challenging the norm when it comes to the making of a family. Same-sex families will always be subject to debate and controversy because family

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