From the Director

Dona Yarbrough

By Dona Yarbrough

This February, I was privileged to hear Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchens, and Deepa Mehta speak at the Emory symposium “The Only Subject Is Love.” Emory English Professor Deepika Bahri noted that the event’s title comes from a February 1999 essay by Rushdie, in which he wrote, “Love feels more and more like the only subject.”  

Happy to be—serendipitously—thinking like Rushdie, we have chosen “love” as the subject of this issue of Women’s News and Narratives. But working on this issue has for me highlighted how difficult it is to speak and write about love, and to convince others to do so.  

Why is love so often hard to articulate without feeling vulnerable, sterotypical, unprofessional or silly?At the symposium, I was struck by how the conversation kept stubbornly returning to hate rather than love, as if hate were so much more interesting that the speakers could not be torn away from it. In the almost twenty years that I have been thinking and writing about gender and sexuality, I have found that friends, colleagues, and students who have been candid about their traumas, breakups, and dysfunctional family dynamics are typically mum when it comes to expressing feelings of love. Why is love so often hard to articulate without feeling vulnerable, stereotypical, unprofessional, or silly?  

In an effort (perhaps sadistic?) to encourage people to open up on the subject of love, we sent out a survey asking members of the Emory community to complete the sentence, “I have felt most loved when . . .” All the stories in this issue were sparked by answers to that question. As a result, we have pieces about love after decades of marriage, queer alternatives to the marriage ceremony, parental love, young love, and a sociologist’s view of love’s relationship to achieving a “life lived well.”

I hope these stories will inspire you to notice where and how love appears in your own life, and perhaps even to share your love stories with others.