Many Americans are attracted to love because of its many benefits like trust, compassion, and mutual understanding. Unfortunately, due to the depiction of love in popular culture, there is a stereotype of love that many people seek to recreate in their own lives without acknowledging the alternate ways love can manifest in a relationship. For example, The Notebook is a classic representation of stereotypical love that American culture continuously portrays. In the movie, Noah and Allie are desperately and passionately in love. Noah makes romantic grand gestures of love like writing her love letters and passionately kissing her in the rain, and Allie becomes infatuated with him. The Notebook, along with other movies of its expose viewers to this single image of love which results in so many viewers seeking a love similar to Noah and Allie. This deprivation ultimately limits one’s perspective of other possible forms of love.
In the essays by Laura Kipnis, bell hooks, and Sarita James, each of the authors challenge the multiple assumptions about love that have been fabricated and perpetuated by society. While many seek a more stereotypical romantic love, these three authors present examples of love that stray away popular stereotypes in order to convey that love can prevail without corresponding with the common standards of a relationship.
Kipnis presents an alternative love to provide a counterexample of stereotypical monogamous love that is often desired. In “Against Love,” Kipnis critiques the masses for being fixated on love and devoting their time to seek its fleeting satisfaction. Additionally, she condemns monogamy for limiting individuals to rely on just one person to fulfil their needs. Kipnis provides an interview of a gay couple who have been together for thirty years to support her argument. They love each other but admit to seeing people outside of their relationship for recreation. They are the perfect example of a version of love that is not often represented or praised. While they have seen other people, they both have a mutual understating that having affairs for sexual release is acceptable and will not cause any harm to their relationship. This takes away the responsibility of just one person to fulfill needs of their partner which Kipnis doesn’t see as a feasible expectation. While popular depictions of love make monogamy seem like the only way to sustain a relationship, Kipnis argues that it is okay for outsiders to fulfill the needs of those in a relationship and that alternative, non monogamous forms of love can successfully exist.
Due to the influence of popular culture, some Americans have the expectation that it is necessary for a couple to forego individualism to be in a traditional relationship, yet hooks conveys that couples can maintain successful relationships while living very separate lives. Hooks essay, “Baba and Daddy Gus” shares that she is proponent of long term monogamy due to watching her grandparents remain in a relationship that lasted for more than seventy years. She explains her grandparents love as one that was strong, yet the way in which they vocally or physically expressed their love was not always as evident. She writes that they didn’t sleep together because Baba Gus despised Daddy’s odor of tobacco juice, but he didn’t complain because he didn’t mind having a bed to himself. Hooks mainly emphasizes that their spiritual connection contributed to success of their love and they didn’t need passion to prove their commitment to each other.
Hooks writes “In their own way my grandparents were rebels, deeply committed to radical individualism.”( hooks, 375) They were able to build their romance around their own needs which isn’t always associated the traditional love. However, without affection or traditional tenderness, their love still had components of balance and understanding that were rooted in the respect they had for each other’s as individuals. In the portrayal of love that is most popular, many couples comprise and may even hide parts of themselves in order to make their relationship more in sync, yet hooks does not believe that those efforts are essential. Daddy Gus and Baba prove that individualism can still co exists with long term monogamy. They rejected conformity and lacked the physical connections that is mainly associated with love, yet those facts did not change their love. Their differences complemented each other and their spiritual connection ultimately outweighed their lack of surface level connections which made their relationship so long lasting.
James tries to convey that developing feelings for someone does not necessarily require stereotypical chemistry. Initially, in “Let Me Find My Own Husband” James resents her parents desire for her to marry her suitable boy and she has no interest in the suitable boy; however, James admits that she was attracted to him more once he proved he could adapt to her family’s antics. After a simple exchange of smiles at her graduation party, James is ready to marry him and he says he is ready to marry her. Later she begins to plan out their life together yet, she questions what is would be like to sleep together because even she recognizes that they barely know each other. Even with these doubts, she says“ I was ready and poised to fall in love.” (James,381) While, James was skeptical of the way that their relationship would turn out, she still feels ready to fall in love. Even though, they didn’t build a commonly accepted type of chemistry, James still felt strongly towards him. Her essay proves that love can manifest itself in unassuming ways even after lacking previous development in a relationship. In The Notebook, Noah and Allie have a love that builds gradually which makes the viewer see the progression of love as something natural and essential to establishing love. However James proves that attraction can be spontaneous and feelings can stem from simple acts and doesn’t have to be physical contrary to popular belief.
Ultimately, there are alternative forms of love that can develop that do not align with the broadly accepted stereotypes of relationships. Since being in love and seeking romance is a common theme in many popular shows and movies, it is challenging to avoid the stereotypes of love, but it is very important to understand the nuances that love has. It is equally as important to acknowledge the many ways that people within relationships create their own norms. Finally, one must be ready to face the multiple forms that love can take even if none of them conform to stereotypes.
Kipnis, Laura. “Against Love.” ReMix: Reading Composing Culture. By Catherine G. Latterell. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 362-70. Print.
Hooks, Bell. “Baba and Daddy Gus.” ReMix: Reading Composing Culture. By Catherine G. Latterell. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 372-77. Print.
James, Sarita. “Let Me Find My Own Husband.” ReMix: Reading Composing Culture. By Catherine G. Latterell. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 379-82. Print.