Love Is Not Enough: A Response to the Love as a Radical Act Forum – The Feminist Wire

Love Is Not Enough: A Response to the Love as a Radical Act Forum

Love as a Radical PraxisBy Francesca Mastrangelo

When we think of love, concepts of romance, nostalgia and other variations of tenderness often come to mind. Without a doubt, thoughts of meaningful relationships and profound memories that spark a certain warm fuzziness pop up when someone utters that four-letter word. Yet, when we think of love as an idea stretching beyond its common applications and associations, we find that love can be, in fact, something that holds transformative potential—something that reaches past our own individual experiences to foster a compassionate solidarity between ourselves and the world around us.

Considering love as a radical praxis demands a reconsideration of the word’s current usage. Through overuse, the word “love” finds itself resting in a thoughtless space—one defined by shallow attempts to establish human connection and improve one’s individual existence. Expressions of love in popular culture, for example, regard the concept as something undeniably essential (i.e. “Love is all you need!”), and we accept those adages without addressing how the love-concept renders satisfaction. Why is love all we need?

Hackneyed phrases reinforce love’s necessity and capacity to fulfill us, yet love’s manifestations rest heavily, if not completely, on a self-involved principle. Common discussions of love revolve around the relationship of the individual to the individual’s world—as opposed to fostering genuine and transformative relations with the world around us. Prevalent ideas of love focus on producing a warm and fuzzy gratification that enhances the quality of our own lives, while disregarding how a love-concept can function as tool for systemic and structural change. Love is not all we need—love requires us to open our hearts and minds to others’ experiences and commit ourselves to action led by an anti-imperialist, feminist ethic.


MastrangeloFrancesca Mastrangelo is a graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. Currently a freelance writer and reporter living in Madison, WI, Francesca contributes to local Madison newspapers and Bitch Magazine’s blog.


  1. john beny

    October 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    With this article, you didn’t do anything with it, Love, either! Am I missing something here? I’d have liked it if you had explored your idea of Love as transformative with examples/anecdotes. Also, will a “feminist ethic”,really lead all of us, women and men to a better appreciation, as well as use, of Love?

  2. Francesca

    October 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    John —

    Thanks for your feedback. I’m looking to turn this into a longer piece, so I appreciate suggestions. This was just a quick response to the forum.

    – Frankie

  3. GemGirl

    October 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This is the heart of the matter as Francesca wrote: “Love is not all we need — love requires us to open our hearts and minds to others’ experiences and commit ourselves to action.”

    I am so sick of talk. Love in action is what we need to make the world better overall. I do my part in specific ways, but find myself wanting to slack from increasing my output of love because so many human beings are closed in ways that make communication difficult while others are extremely suspicious of basic kindness at times. It’s not that I seek credit, but I could do without the hostility that sometimes gets directed at decent people who are being genuine but viewed as having an agenda.

  4. Felonious Grammar

    October 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I have always been disgusted with the “all you need is love” trope. For one thing, it’s a privileged sentiment (not philosophical profundity) that assumes that all the other animal and social needs have been satisfied.

    For another, what is called “love” in our culture is often self-defeating for women. You might be interested in “Loving to Survive”, a book about women and Stockholm Syndrome as an unavoidable effect of living in a patriarchal society with its ubiquitous threat of men doing violence to women, while being our “protectors”. It’s free online at