Top 20 Bell Hooks Quotes: Relationships, Social Issues And Love

Better known by her pen name “Bell Hooks”, Gloria Jean Watkins (born 1952) is an American Author and prolific feminist and social activist. Her ideas are essentially feminist, but their application extends even beyond the arena of gender inequality and all the way into the social dilemma of abilities vs. immutable characteristics.

Here are some of the most loved Bell Hooks quotes.

Best Bell Hooks Quotes on Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory

Bell Hooks Quotes on Relationships

#1. “Love is an action, never simply a feeling.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#2. “When we face pain in relationships our first response is often to sever bonds rather than to maintain commitment.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#3. “Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment…’dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of the love — which is to transform us.’” – Bell Hooks

#4. “All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly, we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#5. “Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust.” – Bell Hooks

#6. “To return to love, to get the love we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships. We believe these relationships, more than any other, will rescue and redeem us. True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#7. “If only one party in the relationship is working to create love, to create the space of emotional connection, the dominator model remains in place and the relationship just becomes a site for continuous power struggle.” – Bell Hooks

#8. “The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt and pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#9. “While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother’s love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love. This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

Bell Hooks Quotes on Social Issues

#10. “Being oppressed means the absence of choices.” – Bell Hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

#11. “No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much”. Indeed, no woman writer can write “too much”…No woman has ever written enough.” – Bell Hooks, Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work

#12. “As all advocates of feminist politics know most people do not understand sexism or if they do they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.” – Bell Hooks, Feminism is for Everybody

#13. “The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.” – Bell Hooks

#14. “I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility. Not this “In order to love you, I must make you something else”. That’s what domination is all about, that in order to be close to you, I must possess you, remake and recast you.” – Bell Hooks, Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies

Bell Hooks Quotes on Self Love and Empowerment

#15. “If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” – Bell Hooks, Feminism is for Everybody

#16. “I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#17. “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#18. “I am passionate about everything in my life–first and foremost, passionate about ideas. And that’s a dangerous person to be in this society, not just because I’m a woman, but because it’s such a fundamentally anti-intellectual, anti-critical thinking society.” – Bell Hooks

#19. “One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others. There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-forty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or too that. Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am. It is silly, isn’t it, that I would dream of someone else offering to me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself. This was a moment when the maxim “You can never love anybody if you are unable to love yourself” made clear sense. And I add, “Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

#20. “Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen suffering wounds us but need not scar us for life. It does mark us. What we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

Bell Hooks was 19 years old and an undergraduate student at Stanford when she wrote the first draft of her critically acclaimed book “Ain’t I A Woman,” a study on the correlation between the historical oppression of Black women in the United States and its effect on modern American society.

Since then, she has published almost three dozen books and is a globally recognized feminist activist and a writer loved for her novel insights and admirable accuracy on topics about media, gender, race and class.

Image source: Bell Hooks photo from