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The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love Kindle Edition
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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. But toxic masculinity punishes those fundamental emotions, and it’s so deeply ingrained in our society that it’s hard for men to not comply—but hooks wants to help change that.
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.
George Weinberg author of Why Men Won't Commit [A] compelling study of the culture's unfairness to men.
"Each offering from bell hooks is a major event....She has so much to give us." —MAYA ANGELOU
About the Author
- ASIN : B000FC0Y6S
- Publisher : Atria Books (January 6, 2004)
- Publication date : January 6, 2004
- Language : English
- File size : 362 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 208 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0743456076
- Best Sellers Rank: #44,422 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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As for women, I think you'll find this book particularly useful as a tool to understand the patriarchy's effect on boys/men and how it leads us down these dark paths that you often end up suffering for. Make no mistake, it's absolutely not your responsibility to fix us, that's on us, but with this book, you might have vital context to better understand the situation to provide guidance or support to the important men and boys in your own life.
While I wouldn't categorize this as a "self-help" book, it definitely helped me more than most of them that I've read. Bell hooks is a saint and a legend, and I wish I was more aware of her and her work before we lost her.
Just a touch of back story. As a kid I saw the Old Boys Club antagonize my mom in all kinds of nasty ways, so I decided my way of being a man would be to “do no harm” essentially embrace a sort of neutral passivity… which kinda worked, but I’ve found passivity allows the patriarchy to still hold sway, and I am often still complicit.
So, I’ve been exploring what a healthy assertive masculinity would look like. A friend of mine recommended bell hook’s book “The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love” saying it is the only book out there addressing Alternative Masculinity.
“The Will To Change” is a broad description of what the Patriarchy does to men—Dr. hooks describes a totalized system, I have to admit I’ve not experienced all the manifestations of patriarchy described, but I’d imagine that just means I’m either lucky or have some blinders.
What follows are a few points made throughout the book:
-Patriarchy does not allow for relationship
Dr. hooks begins with the statement that women fear men, for we are a constant threat of violence to them. She uses an intense example by Barbara Deming, who describes the first time she felt true intimacy with her father, which was when she held his corpse. It was the first time there was no threat of violence in him.
Put simply, Patriarchy involves domination, and love and domination can’t coexist. So, all intimacy within patriarchal culture is pretend intimacy.
-The Patriarchy involves Domination
Men living under the Patriarchy are constantly asking where they are on the social pecking order. There can be no sign of weakness.
Instead of finding self-esteem in a man’s individual identity it is always found in relation to other men. Any sign of weakness is shamed. The question is always “who is on top?” “who is dominating who?”. One of the silly thing men often do is answer questions even if they don’t know the right answer, or were not asked the question—this is because not having the answer causes shame and shows weakness. So, mansplaining, for example, is an attempt to not be shamed.
Boys become men when they learn to stop expressing their emotions. This is a horrendous loss, and within the Patriarchy manhood is reaffirmed by learning to only grieve this loss in private. Dr. hooks suggests the anti-social stage of development in boys may in fact be the point at which they learn to stop expressing their emotions.
There are multiple masks men learn to use to hide this grief and other emotions. In general the mask is compartmentalization. This causes men to distrust everyone, after all if they are masking their pain, everyone is lying. Often times boys living in anti-patriachal homes lead a double life at home and at school.
Additionally, Workaholism is a mask that is rewarded and encouraged by pretty much everyone. Work is a place to escape the self. It encourages a sense of separate spheres, men work and make money, women work at home and do the emotional work for men.
Another major mask is sex. The Patriarchy has told men that sex is the only space for intimacy and release of emotions. This causes men to have a constant sense of sexual scarcity, after all they are told sex does the work of all passions, sensualities, and relationships. “All human needs are promised to us by way of sex and sexuality.” It isn’t put in its proper place as “one pleasure among many pleasures.”
Dr. hooks warns women ought not ignore the pain the Patriarchy inflicts upon men, as they too can be socialized into psychic self-mutilation.
-Change is hard
Popular culture props up the Patriarchy, even when it tries to be thoughtful about masculinity. For example, American Beauty, Life as a House, and Monsters Ball all depict men critically reflecting upon their emotional life, and they all end up dead. Who would choose to embrace a practice that he is told will lead to his destruction?
Men are often bought off by the Patriarchy. Dr. hooks describes a gentle quiet feminist man who assumed a macho persona and was rewarded for it. Women were drawn to him, he was noticed publically and professionally, and “his feminism ceased.”
At times mainstream feminism gives men who want to change mixed messages, “Hold onto ideas about strength and providing for others… while dropping your investment in domination and add an investment in emotional growth.”
It’s important to remember that women also enforce patriarchal norms. The following conversation is a norm:
“How do you feel?”
“Like there is something missing, I’m in pain and I think society hates me.”
Similarly, men recovering from substance abuse often have the experience of being told by their partner, “Now that you are sober you no longer need to express your feelings.”
Finally, as long as the Patriarchy is the water in which we swim, men who want to change will be left resource-less. “Men will never receive support from patriarchal culture for their emotional development.”
-But it is worth it
“Anytime a single male dares to transgress patriarchal boundaries in order to love, the lives of women, men, and children are fundamentally changed for the better.”
Top reviews from other countries
Sometimes as women, we are so quick to demonise men and forget that we often perpetuate the same patriarchy that we are fighting to abolished. Hooks talks about men, emotions and how women are not always able to handle a man who is emotive and likes to talk about he feels. We have been conditioned to believing that masculinity equates to being hard and showing no emotion, so when a man finally does show/ discuss his emotions.. we have no idea how to handle it.
Hooks is a great author when it comes to intersectionality of different factors that affect one's behaviour etc. Great read!
The book is inspiring. It provides a vocabulary for many of those things we experience but can't quite define on our own. Bell Hook's writing soothes the soul, she is truly compassionate. She contextualizes personal experience providing a clear and coherent picture of her broader, radical vision.
Following this reading, I was ready to explore more of her work.