In my reading of Bell Hook’s piece Imperialism of Patriarchy, there was a section that so clearly summed up a lot of major ideas.
“often in feminist writing, women express bitterness, rage and anger about male oppressors because it is one step that helps them to cease believing in romanticized versions of sex-role patterns that deny woman’s humanity. Unfortunately, our emphasis on the male as oppressor often obscures the fact that men too are victimized. To be an oppressor is dehumanizing and anti- human in nature, as it is to be a victim. Patriarchy forces fathers to act as monsters, encourages husbands and lovers to be rapists in disguise; it teaches our blood brothers to feel ashamed that they care for us, and denies all men the emotional life that would act as a humanizing, self-affirming force in their lives” (114).
I found this so relevant to many of the relationships depicted in The Color Purple. Harpo and Mr. _____ are in perpetual communication gridlock, and express this exact predicament. I find it very perceptive and emotionally brave of walker to have this type of relationship depicted in her novel. For example, Harpo first complains to Mr.____ about Sofia and Mr.____ asks if he had ever hit her. Harpo “look down at his hands. Naw suh, he say low, embarrass”(77).
Consequentially, Harpo and Sofia’s relationship is incredibly violent and abusive. Sophia, explains being the only girl growing up as the reason she is motivated and knows how to defend herself and fight back. Sofia is determined to protect any type of autonomy she has and refuses to submit to Harpo. Sofia’s rage reminds me of Bell Hook’s explanation for the use of anger in feminist writing.
Harpo is made to feel emasculated by Sofia’s refusal to submit, which only produces more resentment between Harpo and his father as well as between Harpo and Sofia.