Love is often understood as a transformative political practice, subconsciously or not. This is through the ambiguity with the term “love.” The issues with relying on an abstract concept like love as a reference point or call to action is that the way each person defines love is often relative to how others have defined it. In the video above, Dr. Sean McDowell explains that it is often hard for people to offer a cogent definition of love. As a result, people generally align their ideas of love with ideas they’ve gathered elsewhere. Most often, these ideas of love are politically motivated and reinforce patriarchal and heteronormative dynamics within relationships.

In this video, Dr. McDowell defers to the Bible for a definition of love. He continues to read a passage from Ephesians (in the New Testament) which defines love in relation to a heteronormative relationship between a man and a woman. More specifically, this definition of love is defined from the male point of view. This example in itself plays into love as a political device by fundamentally associating love with a patriarchal heteronormative relationship in which a man bestows love upon his wife.

bell hooks argues against this idea directly. She believes that love should not include dominance or a reinforcement of patriarchal gender roles. In many representations of love, however, this seems to be the case. Reclaiming the term “love,” is perhaps too enormous a task to execute overnight, however, the first steps towards depoliticizing the concept of love would be to reclaim the term or to find a different one. At this moment in time, the term “love” might be too engrained in destructive ideas that using other terms may be a better alternative.

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