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The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

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Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are -- w Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are -- whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. With trademark candor and fierce intelligence, hooks addresses the most common concerns of men, such as fear of intimacy and loss of their patriarchal place in society, in new and challenging ways. She believes men can find the way to spiritual unity by getting back in touch with the emotionally open part of themselves -- and lay claim to the rich and rewarding inner lives that have historically been the exclusive province of women. A brave and astonishing work, The Will to Change is designed to help men reclaim the best part of themselves.


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Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are -- w Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are -- whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. With trademark candor and fierce intelligence, hooks addresses the most common concerns of men, such as fear of intimacy and loss of their patriarchal place in society, in new and challenging ways. She believes men can find the way to spiritual unity by getting back in touch with the emotionally open part of themselves -- and lay claim to the rich and rewarding inner lives that have historically been the exclusive province of women. A brave and astonishing work, The Will to Change is designed to help men reclaim the best part of themselves.

30 review for The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Every man, and everyone who loves a man, should read this book. The Will to Change carries a revolution in its pages. bell hooks argues with fierce eloquence about how we socialize men to numb their emotions, to only express anger and rage. She conveys honest compassion by contending that we must socialize everyone to honor male pain so that men will treat others with loving kindness, lest they forever repress their feelings to live up to the awful standards of toxic masculinity. One of the seve Every man, and everyone who loves a man, should read this book. The Will to Change carries a revolution in its pages. bell hooks argues with fierce eloquence about how we socialize men to numb their emotions, to only express anger and rage. She conveys honest compassion by contending that we must socialize everyone to honor male pain so that men will treat others with loving kindness, lest they forever repress their feelings to live up to the awful standards of toxic masculinity. One of the several quotes I loved from this book: "The reality is that men are hurting and that the whole culture responds to them by saying, 'Please do not tell us what you feel.' ... If we cannot heal what we cannot feel, by supporting patriarchal culture that socializes men to deny feelings, we doom them to live in states of emotional numbness. We construct a culture where male pain can have no voice, where male hurt cannot be named or healed." Though I feel confident in my maleness, I have never identified as masculine. Because of traumatic events in my childhood, I always swore off aggression - an emotion society forces most men to identify with. bell hooks hones in on so many uncomfortable truths about how patriarchy slaughters men's emotional vitality: how both men and women tell boys not to cry, how men use violent pornography as a way to cope with and visualize their rage, and how we accept male stoicism even when men are capable of so much more. She never positions men as the enemy, rather, she calls on readers to tear down the patriarchy that hurts us all. Another wonderful quote from the book that resonated with so many of my experiences with men: "Being 'vulnerable' is an emotional state many men seek to avoid. Some men spend a lifetime in a state of avoidance and therefore never experience intimacy. Sadly, we have all colluded with the patriarchy by faking it with men, pretending levels of intimacy and closeness we do not feel. We tell men we love them when we feel we have absolutely no clue as to who they really are. We tell fathers we love them when we are terrified to share our perceptions of them, our fear that if we disagree, we will be cast out, excommunicated. In this way we all collude with patriarchal culture to make men feel they can have it all, that they can embrace patriarchal manhood and still hold their loved ones dear. In reality, the more patriarchal a man is, the more disconnected he must be from feeling. If he cannot feel, he cannot connect. If he cannot connect, he cannot be intimate." Overall, a fantastic read. Yes, we should empower women, and we should empower men - by socializing them to love and to care. If I could have every high school student in the United States read one book right now, it would be The Will to Change. I hope that we can all carry forth hooks's vision, by conducting more research on masculinity and by aiding men in getting in touch with their emotions. I will end this review with one final, inspirational quote: "The work of male relational recovery, of reconnection, of forming intimacy and making community can never be done alone. In a world where boys and men are daily losing their way we must create guides, signposts, new paths. A culture of healing that empowers males to change is in the making. Healing does not take place in isolation. Men who love and men who long to love know this. We need to stand by them, with open hearts and open arms. We need to stand ready to hold them, offering a love that can shelter their wounded spirits as they seek to find their way home, as they exercise the will to change."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    bell hooks defines this project as an attempt to love men enough to understand how patriarchy affects them, and understand how their pain can help them transform and challenge patriarchy. For me it was a profound experience reading this because it touched on so many aspects of my life as a male, from childhood, to school, to sex and relationships, to friendships, etc. It allowed me to see old memories in new ways, and understand that my feelings of pain, confusion and shame were a result of the bell hooks defines this project as an attempt to love men enough to understand how patriarchy affects them, and understand how their pain can help them transform and challenge patriarchy. For me it was a profound experience reading this because it touched on so many aspects of my life as a male, from childhood, to school, to sex and relationships, to friendships, etc. It allowed me to see old memories in new ways, and understand that my feelings of pain, confusion and shame were a result of the violent circumstances that I was subjected to growing up in this culture. In the past I had "understood" patriarchy as something that primarily only affected women, and saw my job mostly as limiting the damage done to the women in my life and organizing. bell hooks pushed me to look inside myself first and foremost and see how this system has terrorized me personally, and how challenging patriarchy is necessary for my own liberation, as well as the liberation of all men, and everybody. What struck me most significantly was the idea that patriarchy is all the time enforced by violence, and that men are taught through violence to reject their emotions and become cold-blooded and distant, which allows them to commit violence on others. "Violence is boyhood socialization. The way we 'turn boys into men' is through injury... We take them away from their feelings, from sensitivity to others. The very phrase 'be a man' means suck it up and keep going. Disconnection is not fallout from traditional masculinity. Disconnection is masculinity." I could think of hundreds or thousands of times that I've felt this threat of violence keeping me within the shallow emotionless world of patriarchal masculinity. Most often it looks like jokes, put-downs, humiliation, scorn, and exclusion, but violence is at the heart of the matter. In fact, middle school and high school in retrospect look like a 7 year-long gauntlet of violent social training. Learning to express the pain I've felt without shame, and wield my anger not against myself (or others) but against patriarchal society, isn't something that can change overnight. But bell hooks' wisdom has opened up new possibilities for me and for all men, and it's up to us to take the initiative, educate ourselves, get in touch with our own emotions, our own human-ness and connection to others in a non-dominating way, and work together in love and resistance. We don't just owe it to women, trans and genderqueer folks, we owe it to ourselves. "Communities of resistance should be places where people can return to themselves more easily, where the conditions are such that they can heal themselves and recover their wholeness."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    I have profound respect for bell hooks. She is and will probably always be one of the most clear minded and insightful feminist theorists for years to come. Her works and lectures can be both mind blowing and humbling. And a book like this is important because men need a better understanding of their place in the movement as allies and we need to be reminded at times that they can and should be better. That being said, it was clear that this book was going to be far more likely to appeal to a ma I have profound respect for bell hooks. She is and will probably always be one of the most clear minded and insightful feminist theorists for years to come. Her works and lectures can be both mind blowing and humbling. And a book like this is important because men need a better understanding of their place in the movement as allies and we need to be reminded at times that they can and should be better. That being said, it was clear that this book was going to be far more likely to appeal to a male audience. I thus found it problematic that hooks did not use this golden opportunity to extrapolate on just why women would be hesitant to trust men, let alone let them into a feminist space (one that so many women before us have bled, died, and gone to jail for, I should add). Men might be harmed by patriarchy in that they lose their potential for self-actualization, mind and soul. It is indisputably a lower quality of life. But women will continue to lose their actual lives through the systemic violence that men perpetuate at the hands of male relatives, friends, and lovers. Being conditioned and socialized into the role of an abuser does not negate one's actions and the ensuing accountability. Men, should they be allies, are responsible for the actions of both themselves as individuals and themselves as an oppressive social class. hooks briefly hints at the importance of this in that men have to be open to criticism from women and to consistently check themselves. But I would add that they also have to criticize each other out and actively seek to disrupt the old boy system that allows so many men to get away with sexual violence and misogyny. It is one thing to choose never to buy sex or to consume pornography as an individual man. Or to never coerce his wife/partner/lover into sex. But it is another to actively stand against it and condemn any man (including friends and family members) who would. The crux of feminism is not to get along better with men. It is, and always will be, about us women learning to love each other; to defend and to affirm each other; to realize that the love we can have for each other can be just as, if not more profound than any relationship we can have with a man. I think we already empathize a lot with men, contrary to what hooks asserts. We have fallen into empathy traps and faced hard betrayal by alleged male allies in activist spaces. Time and time again we have believed that "genuine care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust" can "serve as the seductive catalyst for change" (p. 178). If we just loved him enough, he can change. Men need to change. Men can change. There are good men out there who live to testify that men can be better. But the first thing they need to understand is that women have all the reasons not to trust them. And they very much have every right to be angry.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miri

    Important and original. I appreciate how much space hooks spends on quoting and citing other authors (especially psychotherapists, which made me happy); it's the mark of a great thinker who isn't afraid to give credit where credit is due. This is one of the rare books on masculinity that addresses the topic with sensitivity and also without blaming women or feminism for all of the problems. My two main criticisms are: 1) hooks seems very gender-essentialist. She continually expresses her arguments Important and original. I appreciate how much space hooks spends on quoting and citing other authors (especially psychotherapists, which made me happy); it's the mark of a great thinker who isn't afraid to give credit where credit is due. This is one of the rare books on masculinity that addresses the topic with sensitivity and also without blaming women or feminism for all of the problems. My two main criticisms are: 1) hooks seems very gender-essentialist. She continually expresses her arguments as though there are only Men and Women, and Men have penises and Women have vaginas, and Men are Masculine and Women are Feminine. To this end, she calls for a better, "feminist" masculinity for men to aspire to, without ever really justifying what masculinity *is* (other than What Men Do), why we need it, and whether (and if so, why) men should aspire to something different than women. In her view, this feminist masculinity involves having integrity, self-love, relational skills, emotional awareness, etc. Obviously, these are all great traits, but why do we need to call them "masculinity" at all? 2) Although hooks is correct to note that many feminist women fail to acknowledge how deeply patriarchy hurts men (especially non-white, non-middle-/upper-class men), she does not caveat her proposed solution--that women actively work to help men overcome patriarchy--with the fact that many women who do this face immense verbal abuse (and worse) as a result. The reason many of us feminists don't want to engage with men isn't (just) because we see them as all-powerful and incapable of being as hurt as we are, but because when we try to engage with them, they make us regret it. That doesn't mean the solution is to disengage entirely, but hooks' argument would be stronger if she explicitly acknowledged this barrier. She does at one point write, "Since emotional pain is the feeling that most males have covered up, numbed out, or closed off, the journey back to feeling is frequently through the portal of suffering. Much male rage covers up this place of suffering: this is the well-kept secret. Often when a female gets close to male pain, penetrating the male mask to see the emotional vulnerability beneath, she becomes a target for the rage." However, hooks does not connect this with her admonition that women engage with men to lead them through this process. How do we prevent or cope with becoming the targets of this rage?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sajani

    This book has answered almost every question I've ever had about men and why they are the way they are. It has helped restore my faith in men as a sex. Instead of just pointing out the injustices of patriarchy, Hooks explains, step by step, exactly how men are socialized to be violent, and given misguided notions about what it means to be 'male.' For the first time, I was introduced to the idea that men suffer from patriarchy even as they are privileged by it. Because of Hooks, I've been inspire This book has answered almost every question I've ever had about men and why they are the way they are. It has helped restore my faith in men as a sex. Instead of just pointing out the injustices of patriarchy, Hooks explains, step by step, exactly how men are socialized to be violent, and given misguided notions about what it means to be 'male.' For the first time, I was introduced to the idea that men suffer from patriarchy even as they are privileged by it. Because of Hooks, I've been inspired to help men redefine masculinity. Because of her, I now try to understand men. Because of Bell Hooks, I'm ok with loving men again. This is a book I will most definitely come back to.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dominic

    When I developed my feminist sensibilities in the 1990s, it was bell hooks who was first to validate not only my place as a feminist man but to ardently argue for my space as a comrade in feminist work. It was going to take feminist women and feminist men collaborating together in order to do the work so desperately needed. Ever since then, bell hooks has been a huge part in my growth as a feminist, teacher, and man. And since the publication of The Will to Change in 2004, I've probably returned When I developed my feminist sensibilities in the 1990s, it was bell hooks who was first to validate not only my place as a feminist man but to ardently argue for my space as a comrade in feminist work. It was going to take feminist women and feminist men collaborating together in order to do the work so desperately needed. Ever since then, bell hooks has been a huge part in my growth as a feminist, teacher, and man. And since the publication of The Will to Change in 2004, I've probably returned to it a half dozen times, each time offering a bit of encouragement to continue to fight for gender equality and to do my part to interrupt the patriarchal narrative. Nearly all of my graduate study in English has been in some way informed by her vision. bell hooks is a revelation; she is both brilliant and down-to-earth, revolutionary and full of love. She makes me think more than any other theorist, and I am forever indebted to her and her work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Richards

    This is a profound book that I will now list as one of the most life-changing I have ever read. Its singular message is that patriarchy harms men almost as much as it harms women (though in different ways). Feminism is not women working against men, but women and men who value love working against men and women who value domination. I haven't loved the previous hooks books I've read, even though I agreed with them, because I didn't find her writing style clear or elegant enough. But this one reso This is a profound book that I will now list as one of the most life-changing I have ever read. Its singular message is that patriarchy harms men almost as much as it harms women (though in different ways). Feminism is not women working against men, but women and men who value love working against men and women who value domination. I haven't loved the previous hooks books I've read, even though I agreed with them, because I didn't find her writing style clear or elegant enough. But this one resonated deeply. I now have intense grief that this book wasn't given to me when I was younger, that its lessons are not taught in schools, that copies are not given to boys and teenagers. It has shown me new insight that more parts of my personality are not innate but are a result of our culture, generating some serious existential wondering. The book isn't perfect. There are few New Agey passages here and there, which I can be overly sensitive to. (But I think we don't have a language for some of these concepts that won't seem cheesy or New Age.) Also, some of her pop culture critiques seemed inaccurate and out of place. But the book raises points that I just have never seen anywhere else, and I've read a lot of feminist writing. How can one of the biggest problems in human history be so ignored, so swept under the rug? I plan to give this book to as many people as I can.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    Wow. It feels inadequate to write a review of this book because for me, reading it was profoundly life-changing. It forced to me to recharacterize my entire childhood and experience of gender. So I'll just say that it's worth reading for anyone, regardless of gender, who cares about feminism or is interested in making change in Western culture.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    "If we cannot heal what we cannot feel, by supporting patriarchal culture that socializes men to deny feelings, we doom them to live in states of emotional numbness." While I have been educating myself in feminist theories lately, I started thinking about how much energy and emotional real estate I squandered due to misogynistic ideas and words. I have played my part in patriarchal gender norms and let me tell you, it was incredibly toxic. This book really hit close to home for me. Anyhow, I fe "If we cannot heal what we cannot feel, by supporting patriarchal culture that socializes men to deny feelings, we doom them to live in states of emotional numbness." While I have been educating myself in feminist theories lately, I started thinking about how much energy and emotional real estate I squandered due to misogynistic ideas and words. I have played my part in patriarchal gender norms and let me tell you, it was incredibly toxic. This book really hit close to home for me. Anyhow, I felt like Bell Hooks was definitely inviting men to look with a critical eye on patriarchal notions. Where do we get these notions? Why do we maintain them if they are cutting us off from being whole people? Not only that, but she did so without condescending nor resorting to combative means. This book came out of love for men and finally recognizes those men that refuse to follow those patriarchal norms. Hooks even goes further by criticizing feminists who have a "us vs them" mentality that hinders any possible debate/ reaching out that can be accomplished. I would highly recommend this to not only to other men (I know too many men who should read this book), but to other feminists. Here are a few quotes that stuck with me (and even made me cry a bit) : “Patriarchy demands of men that they become and remain emotional cripples. Since it is a system that denies men full access to their freedom of will, it is difficult for any man of any class to rebel against patriarchy, to be disloyal to the patriarchal parent, be that parent female or male.” “Ultimately the men who choose against violence, against death, do so because they want to live fully and well, because they want to know love. These are the men who are true heroes, the men whose lives we need to know about, honor, and remember.” "Learning to wear a mask (that word already embedded in the term "masculinity") is the first lesson in patriarchal masculinity that a boy learns. He learns that his core feelings cannot be expressed if they do not conform to the acceptable behaviors defines as male. Asked to give up the true self in order to realize the patriarchal ideal, boys learn self-betrayal early and are rewarded for these acts of soul murder."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Walter Briggs

    This book absolutely changed my life. How often do you get to say that? Even better, it was a gift from one of my daughters (who was then surprised that I read it!) It told me more about myself, my upbringing, and my place in the world than I could have imagined. If this were required reading for every member of modern society, the world would be a more habitable place. It could literally end war… It's not easy, but neither is life. Women and men will both gain new insight into how we are all perp This book absolutely changed my life. How often do you get to say that? Even better, it was a gift from one of my daughters (who was then surprised that I read it!) It told me more about myself, my upbringing, and my place in the world than I could have imagined. If this were required reading for every member of modern society, the world would be a more habitable place. It could literally end war… It's not easy, but neither is life. Women and men will both gain new insight into how we are all perpetuating injustice and anger and disconnection in our world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    What a human being bell hooks is. Despite being a female, she pierced my depressed and troubled soul fraught with self-inflicted wounds from masculinity. Every chapter was a journey with different aspects of myself, and I often put the book down to ruminate on her words and wisdom. She lays bare, clear for anybody to see, the contradictions of masculinity and patriarchy, and how they harm men and women. Above of all, it is the severance of men from their emotional self that harms society, that c What a human being bell hooks is. Despite being a female, she pierced my depressed and troubled soul fraught with self-inflicted wounds from masculinity. Every chapter was a journey with different aspects of myself, and I often put the book down to ruminate on her words and wisdom. She lays bare, clear for anybody to see, the contradictions of masculinity and patriarchy, and how they harm men and women. Above of all, it is the severance of men from their emotional self that harms society, that causes men to be so self-destructive and destructive of their loved ones. The preceding sentence sounds clichéd but hooks makes it personal and alive in this book. Reading this book was a liberating experience.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    This book changed my life. Everyone on Earth should read it. A feminist book about alleviating the burden of men seems inconceivable to feminism's many detractors but inside this book is an answer to all the loneliness, heartache and angry emotions that men feel. It provides a solution that isn't tamping them down in silence or being more rigorous with your rage. There is so much care and compassion inside that it truly transformed the way I think about myself and the choices I make. It strikes This book changed my life. Everyone on Earth should read it. A feminist book about alleviating the burden of men seems inconceivable to feminism's many detractors but inside this book is an answer to all the loneliness, heartache and angry emotions that men feel. It provides a solution that isn't tamping them down in silence or being more rigorous with your rage. There is so much care and compassion inside that it truly transformed the way I think about myself and the choices I make. It strikes at the roots of the many problems with unbridled masculinity and has a lot of great answers to the angry dudes who are caught up in internet misogyny.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annie Mahon

    This book was a paradigm changer for me. If you are interested in understanding the painful ways in which men are socialized to ignore and repress their hearts, and want help knowing what we can do about it - this book is for you. The best book I've read in a while and one I am recommending to everyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Stacy

    First published in 2004, "The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love," by bell hooks, is a powerhouse work of nonfiction. I can never say enough good things about bell hooks. Her work is a gift. "The Will to Change" is a short book written in highly accessible prose, but the content is so difficult to take in and grapple with that it took me as long to read this book as Jackson Katz's "The Macho Paradox" (which I also highly recommend). "The Will to Change" did not repeat material I have read First published in 2004, "The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love," by bell hooks, is a powerhouse work of nonfiction. I can never say enough good things about bell hooks. Her work is a gift. "The Will to Change" is a short book written in highly accessible prose, but the content is so difficult to take in and grapple with that it took me as long to read this book as Jackson Katz's "The Macho Paradox" (which I also highly recommend). "The Will to Change" did not repeat material I have read elsewhere. Everything in this book stood on its own. It's a gut-wrenching read. "The Will to Change" made me cry. But the purpose of the book is to share a message of empowerment, and it certainly succeeds. I would recommend this book to *anyone* to read. While the text focuses on the impacts of patriarchy on boys and men, this is a book intended for a gender-inclusive audience. As a female reader, "The Will to Change" spoke to me deeply and profoundly. I'm incredibly grateful this book exists. ***** "We show our love for maleness, for men, by working to heal the wounds of men who suffer and those of us who bear witness with them. Many of us have lived the truth that recognizing the ways we are wounded is often a simpler process than finding and sustaining a practice of healing. We live in a culture where it has been accepted and even encouraged that women wholeheartedly stand by men when they are doing the work of destruction. Yet we have yet to create a world that asks us to stand by a man when he is seeking healing, when he is seeking recovery, when he is working to be a creator. The work of male relational recovery, of reconnection, of forming intimacy and making community can never be done alone. In a world where boys and men are daily losing their way we must create guides, signposts, new paths. A culture of healing that empowers males to change is in the making. Healing does not take place in isolation. Men who love and men who long to love know this. We need to stand by them, with open hearts and open arms. We need to stand ready to hold them, offering a love than can shelter their wounded spirits as they seed to find their way home, as they exercise the will to change." (pages 187-188; the closing passage)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara-Maria Sorentino

    hooks writes, with care and patience, of the social disease that is patriarchy and its attendant costs for men, women and the relationships that sustain them. in conversational tone, she tells stories of how the ways in which men learn to deny or displace their feelings creates a whole population of emotional cripples, subject to constant suffering. And by avoiding this pain and the ways oppressive systems oppress across all divides, we women are not only doing an injustice to the men in our liv hooks writes, with care and patience, of the social disease that is patriarchy and its attendant costs for men, women and the relationships that sustain them. in conversational tone, she tells stories of how the ways in which men learn to deny or displace their feelings creates a whole population of emotional cripples, subject to constant suffering. And by avoiding this pain and the ways oppressive systems oppress across all divides, we women are not only doing an injustice to the men in our lives but are perpetuating systems of injustice more broadly. I would recommend it for these insights alone, ones I’ve been in desperate need, ive come to realize, to see in print. she is also on the mark with the awareness that women cannot pull men out of this: the transformation, if it is to occur, needs to come from men. As men find support for the daring to heal, and to suffer in order to heal, women, while remaining ‘wisely cautious’, can open spaces for men to mourn during this relational recovery: ‘with open hearts and open arms…[women:] need to stand ready to hold them, offering a love that can shelter their wounded spirits as they seek to find their way home...’( 188). I am very fortunate to be in a relationship with someone who, when seeing this book on my floor, took it on his own to read before I even get around to opening its pages. I hope dear boy, our relationship continues to be one in which confront these themes together, as vexing and trying and they may be. I am glad to have read this; bell hooks lets her listeners in and it does my heart good. still, I found genuinely puzzling hooks' conception of the purity of love. She writes, ‘That love and domination can coexist is one of the most powerful lies patriarchy tells us all…in truth, love can transform domination.’ This is puzzling to me because hooks tells many stories in which relationships of domination are maintained out of a sort of love. And yet ‘Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion’, she says (123). What makes her love, mutual and reciprocal, of such qualitative difference that it is truly love? How to draw the line and why? and what differences, what practical differences, emerge from considering domination a pathology that can be trasformed to one that is, in its repetition, constitutive of our being? What are the practical differences between hope for transcendence and resignation to the impossibility of surmounting structures? these don't have to be opposites but she does lean to the more hopeful transformative side. Hooks stance on this can be made concrete with her rejection of images of men from popular culture, who are overburdened by the weight of patriarchy and fold beneath it. These men are uninspiring to her and ultimately not useful for consideration. (134). but it seems to me these men are necessary to confront. Isn't there some worth in highlighting the near utter impossibility and futility of changing structures? At the very least a posture of humility? My point, however, isn’t to deflate bell hook’s balloon. In truth, the points I wield might be too dull to do much damage even if i wanted them to--the hope, and its companions, healing, alternatives, and choice, expressed by hooks are, I think, beyond facile naivite. It entails a movement through pain. Her hope seemed earned. Maybe I'm rejecting it because i still have a long way to go.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sagar Jethani

    I am disappointed with this book-- not least because the author is one who many of my friends have admired for years. While I generally agree with her premise, she does not represent it well. Insightful criticism of white male patriarchy is quickly supplanted by ridiculous arguments which undermine her case. Harry Potter as a prototypical example of white male warmongering? Facile claims that all males harbor killing rage within them because they are all infected with patriarchical thinking? Please I am disappointed with this book-- not least because the author is one who many of my friends have admired for years. While I generally agree with her premise, she does not represent it well. Insightful criticism of white male patriarchy is quickly supplanted by ridiculous arguments which undermine her case. Harry Potter as a prototypical example of white male warmongering? Facile claims that all males harbor killing rage within them because they are all infected with patriarchical thinking? Please. These kind of arguments parody themselves, conforming to the worst caricatures of liberal hysteria. It's a pity, too, because in 2017 we could use a thoughtful critique of patriarchy and how it influences our lives.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bri

    Timeless. Essential reading on toxic masculinity and men's role in destroying patriarchy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zachary F.

    “Our work of love should be to reclaim masculinity and not allow it to be held hostage to patriarchal domination. There is a creative, life-sustaining, life-enhancing place for the masculine in a nondominator culture. And those of us committed to ending patriarchy can touch the hearts of real men where they live, not by demanding that they give up manhood or maleness, but by asking that they allow its meaning to be transformed, that they become disloyal to patriarchal masculinity in order to fin “Our work of love should be to reclaim masculinity and not allow it to be held hostage to patriarchal domination. There is a creative, life-sustaining, life-enhancing place for the masculine in a nondominator culture. And those of us committed to ending patriarchy can touch the hearts of real men where they live, not by demanding that they give up manhood or maleness, but by asking that they allow its meaning to be transformed, that they become disloyal to patriarchal masculinity in order to find a place for the masculine that does not make it synonymous with domination or the will to do violence.” -ch. 7, “Feminist Manhood” (pg. 115) Though feminist ideology is more widely-accepted and commonplace than ever in American society and concepts such as “patriarchy” and “toxic masculinity” are now acknowledged by a growing number of men as well as women, there’s often a bit of an elephant in the room when we talk about maleness today. It’s clear enough that the old models of masculinity are deeply and dangerously flawed, but how exactly should men (and the women who must, for better or worse, interact with them) move forward into the future? On the one hand, it’s absolutely right and necessary that we reject harmful and repressive notions of manhood and call out those who enforce them; on the other, in a society where even the most sympathetic and “progressive” men have been inundated with those notions for most of their lives (to say nothing of those who proudly resist feminist doctrine and actively work to undermine it), it can be difficult even to believe that meaningful and lasting change is possible on a large scale. To many women--and even some men--it begins to feel at times as if the species would be better off just ditching men and their complexes altogether. But since that’s not really an option (well, for that and many other reasons), we’re lucky to have bell hooks. Writing a decade and a half ago, when feminism’s third wave was on the wane and feminist-aligned men were still something of a rarity, hooks saw the need for a feminist literature which acknowledges the corrosive effects of patriarchy on all genders and speaks to men as potential co-revolutionaries rather than opponents. It’s something of a cliché now to say that feminism is good for men as well as women, but when The Will to Change was published that was far from a foregone conclusion. This was one of the first significant works not only to grapple with the emotional and psychological effects of patriarchal thinking on boys and men, but also to propose potential solutions and new models of behavior that would include and even celebrate maleness without degrading or sidelining women in the process. Over the course of the book hooks traces patriarchal thinking through all the major spheres of male life--family, work, sex, etc.--and delineates the various ways in which men are taught to enact patriarchy in each of these settings. The prevailing idea is one of suppression: men are taught to disown or at least shove down their emotions (with the exception of anger, which is the easiest to channel into patriarchal pursuits), to avoid intimacy of all kinds, and to find whatever meaning they yearn for in their work or in the rigid and unfeeling ideals of masculine duty and honor. Men are taught that violence and domination are the only truly “manly” means to get what they want or to solve problems, and often resort to violence (be it physical or emotional) in domestic life because they have never learned to effectively communicate or take responsibility for their actions. In a sense, the patriarchal man is quite deliberately kept--and willfully keeps himself--in an infantile psychological state, lashing out or shutting down at the slightest provocation because he knows no better way of moving through the world. And the world (including, in many cases, the mother or female partner who loves him) rewards him for it. While of course the primary--and intended--victims of patriarchy are women, hooks argues that it’s wrong to think of the system in purely binary, “oppressor vs. oppressed” terms. Though men do wield power over women in virtually all social contexts, it’s nonetheless true that the majority of men (men of color, working-class men, and LGBTQ men, to name a few examples) are still far from “powerful” in a broader sense. If the patriarchy values men only insofar as they are able to provide for themselves and their families, to wield power over others, and to command respect from their so-called “inferiors,” then men who can do none of these things are considered valueless and disposable. They may try to buckle down on those patriarchal behaviors they can control (violence, suppression of emotions, resistance to intimacy) in order to gain some modicum of (self-)respect, but it’s a vicious cycle that can only ever end in more pain and dissatisfaction for all involved. (And of course a life of stunted emotions and relationships will never really be satisfying or fulfilling to anyone, no matter their privilege--though we should not let our pity blind us to the more pressing needs of women, or lead us to believe that patriarchal men are not still culpable for the damage they do to others.) The banner of social justice has progressed fairly significantly since 2004, and there are admittedly parts of hooks’ book that read as somewhat dated today. Trans issues are neglected completely, and she repeatedly refers to men in trans-exclusionary terms such as “the self that has a penis.” Some of her points are more obvious (though certainly no less true) now than they probably were when she was writing, and of course the whole idea of the feminist man working to unlearn and dismantle patriarchy is slightly less novel in 2017 than it was at the turn of the millennium. Nevertheless, given that American culture at large is only just now making its first faltering strides towards, for instance, exposing sexual abuse on a large scale or providing women of color a place at the feminist table, and considering our continued resistance towards equal pay, freedom of choice, and political/cultural representation for women (to name only a few key issues), hooks more often comes across as a imminently timely prophet than an artifact of another age. In writing The Will to Change, hooks’ main objective is to diagnose the sickness and to catalog some of its lesser-known side effects; but, as the title suggests, she at least starts us on the way towards a prescription, too. Ultimately, she says, healing will come about as a result of radical love. Love by those men who are willing to transcend the suffocating limitations of patriarchal suppression and performance, and also love towards men, on the part of their parents, partners, and any who recognize the universal burden of patriarchy and are willing to do what they can to help remove it. Far from excusing the evils of patriarchal thinking or dismissing the accountability of men for their actions, hooks pleads for men and those responsible for indoctrinating them to acknowledge their own complicity in the problem, to make amends with a world wounded by patriarchy, and to choose consciously to defy a system designed solely to stifle and destroy. That’s the “will to change” of the title, and it’s the only way, hooks says, to bring about healing and initiate a new masculinity that is as freeing, affectionate, and constructive as the old model is not. I think she’s right, and I’ll do whatever I can to bring about that vision in my own life and those of the men and women I love.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sivananthi T

    I read this a long time back, at a younger age, when the concept of love was still something small, and limited in my mind. I shrugged off much of this book then, because I could not grasp the profundity of what hooks was talking about. I returned to this same book so many years later, and find that I now understand what she calls us to do, in transforming masculinity, not men, but the concepts of patriarchy which dominate the interpretation of masculinity. And what it demands of us, not only of I read this a long time back, at a younger age, when the concept of love was still something small, and limited in my mind. I shrugged off much of this book then, because I could not grasp the profundity of what hooks was talking about. I returned to this same book so many years later, and find that I now understand what she calls us to do, in transforming masculinity, not men, but the concepts of patriarchy which dominate the interpretation of masculinity. And what it demands of us, not only of what we work on, but how we work on it, and how long we work on it for. The way that hooks handles the complexities of gender relations, is something that is useful to all of us - not only those who work on women's rights. “Ultimately the men who choose against violence, against death, do so because they want to live fully and well, because they want to know love. These are the men who are true heroes, the men whose lives we need to know about, honor, and remember.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bianca Mogos

    A must read for every man and woman. Opened a whole new world for me. 10*

  21. 5 out of 5

    Conor

    Masculinity: what a burden! Let's tear it all down and let boys be human.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    I wish all men — or maybe just everyone — would read this.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sham Al-Ghazali

    I finished the book within a week, and I concluded that Bell Hooks is the greatest contribution to feminism. My favourite chapter was on the male sexual being, it was so horrifically true, especially the paragraph on violence being equated to sex (fucking, bashing, banging, etc). I think it's falls on the duty of feminists to not exclude men from the movement, because in doing so we are indirectly contributing to patriarchy. To show men love, real love, is the most forward way of thinking to be I finished the book within a week, and I concluded that Bell Hooks is the greatest contribution to feminism. My favourite chapter was on the male sexual being, it was so horrifically true, especially the paragraph on violence being equated to sex (fucking, bashing, banging, etc). I think it's falls on the duty of feminists to not exclude men from the movement, because in doing so we are indirectly contributing to patriarchy. To show men love, real love, is the most forward way of thinking to be real progressives. Furthermore, this book had made me question just how I would treat my kids alone (that's if I were to ever have them). I always stifled my littles cousins emotional consciousness when I believed his emotions were out of place or unnecessary. I demanded he even "mans up" a few times, and I didn't even realise how psychologically threatening that was until now. Thank you Hooks. I would definitely suggest this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I was surprised at this book. I was looking for a book that I could hold up to someone's face and say: "look--I'm right and you're wrong!" But it wasn't the case. bell hooks is really is a complex writer who challenges everybody. This book is not just for men who want to look deeply into themselves and see how Patriarchy effects and privileges their existence, but it also explains why men have so much less depth of emotions. It also forces women to see how we uphold patriarchy just as much as me I was surprised at this book. I was looking for a book that I could hold up to someone's face and say: "look--I'm right and you're wrong!" But it wasn't the case. bell hooks is really is a complex writer who challenges everybody. This book is not just for men who want to look deeply into themselves and see how Patriarchy effects and privileges their existence, but it also explains why men have so much less depth of emotions. It also forces women to see how we uphold patriarchy just as much as men do. It's very powerful, and at times difficult to think about. I found myself having to put it down for a while and come back to it a month or so later. This book is a must read for feminist mothers who are raising male children.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Luke

    You can tell it is a few years old (2004), but it is a great perspective on how culture will need to collectively change for women and men in order to truly progress. I like that she uses the word patriarchy to describe the paradigm vs. the current, more accusatory toxic masculinity. As patriarchy can imply joint responsibility. I had expected that the book was written by a man for men (I hadn't really looked at the author's biography), but was surprised that it was written woman and arguably mor You can tell it is a few years old (2004), but it is a great perspective on how culture will need to collectively change for women and men in order to truly progress. I like that she uses the word patriarchy to describe the paradigm vs. the current, more accusatory toxic masculinity. As patriarchy can imply joint responsibility. I had expected that the book was written by a man for men (I hadn't really looked at the author's biography), but was surprised that it was written woman and arguably more for women. Though plenty of thoughtful consideration for anyone. Also, it is a great essay overall. Though I would have liked more specific data and studies cited to drive the arguments.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ben Zimmerman

    I have complicated feelings about this book. I really strongly agreed with parts of it, but there were also parts that completely missed the mark for me. I wonder if some of the gap between myself and the author is generational. The men that have been present throughout my life are not nearly so callus or emotionally blocked off as the ones described in the book. It also emphasized spirituality and the soul too much for my taste, and I felt that those aspects strongly undermined the arguments in I have complicated feelings about this book. I really strongly agreed with parts of it, but there were also parts that completely missed the mark for me. I wonder if some of the gap between myself and the author is generational. The men that have been present throughout my life are not nearly so callus or emotionally blocked off as the ones described in the book. It also emphasized spirituality and the soul too much for my taste, and I felt that those aspects strongly undermined the arguments in a few chapters. I agree that we condition most boys to be patriarchal men, and that there are many emotionally repressed men around us as a result. I also feel like healing will only be possible through compassion. I think I agree with both the underlying idea and the ultimate goal of the book, but I still found it frustrating and somewhat out of touch. I suspect I'm just not the target audience here.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Zachary

    This is my new favorite book. Brimming with love and compassion, if everyone in America were to read this book, the world instantly become a better place. Profound, brutally honest, and shamelessly vulnerable, this book repeatedly brought me to tears. Tears of grieving. And also, tears of joy and hope. I'll be reading much more from bell hooks. Not an easy read. This book is heavy, but it contains a message almost all of us, both men and women, can benefit from. It provides a brave alternative v This is my new favorite book. Brimming with love and compassion, if everyone in America were to read this book, the world instantly become a better place. Profound, brutally honest, and shamelessly vulnerable, this book repeatedly brought me to tears. Tears of grieving. And also, tears of joy and hope. I'll be reading much more from bell hooks. Not an easy read. This book is heavy, but it contains a message almost all of us, both men and women, can benefit from. It provides a brave alternative vision to the emotionally handicapped way most men blunder through life, injuring themselves and others along the way. It provides an alternative for women longing for emotionally mature, non-abusive men. A beautiful framework for healing and for dismantling patriarchy from within ourselves. Beautifully consistent in message and approach, it's hard to find any hate or anger in this book. It is pure hope and love.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    In this book, Hooks explores the socialization of traditional masculinity under patriarchy and the impact this has on individual's sense of self, emotional expression and family as a social structure deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of patriarchy. Hooks diagnoses the concept of manhood as defined by patriarchal society, in doing so evaluating the impact on and how it is perpetuated in family settings. With her approachable and thoughtful writing style, Hooks describes how traditional mascul In this book, Hooks explores the socialization of traditional masculinity under patriarchy and the impact this has on individual's sense of self, emotional expression and family as a social structure deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of patriarchy. Hooks diagnoses the concept of manhood as defined by patriarchal society, in doing so evaluating the impact on and how it is perpetuated in family settings. With her approachable and thoughtful writing style, Hooks describes how traditional masculinity can affect emotional development and the internalisations that can occur which limits emotional expression and prohibits healthy relationships while ensuring power dynamics holding up patriarchy endures.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jerald

    Not that I expected anything less, but as I read this I saw so, so many present-day, modern examples of the issues of male lovelessness and the detriment of patriarchy/patriarchal masculinity in my life, the lives of those close around me and within our American society. Although I didn't completely agree with some of her ideas (really only one tiny, inconsequential thing), I was overwhelmed with how incredibly relevant this book and those she mentions are. Because of this book, the other of her Not that I expected anything less, but as I read this I saw so, so many present-day, modern examples of the issues of male lovelessness and the detriment of patriarchy/patriarchal masculinity in my life, the lives of those close around me and within our American society. Although I didn't completely agree with some of her ideas (really only one tiny, inconsequential thing), I was overwhelmed with how incredibly relevant this book and those she mentions are. Because of this book, the other of hers that I've read (All About Love) and the others I can't wait to crack into, bell hooks will always be a voice in my ear and I'm grateful for it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Malice

    I have read quite a lot of feminist literature that has similar themes to this book, but I found this to be one of the most inclusive, lovingly written examples yet. I'd recommend this to every man I know and every man I don't, as well as to every woman who feels angry towards men and thinks that men only ever benefit from the patriarchy, and that it is only men who perpetuate it, intentionally or not.

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