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The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love Hardcover – December 30, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A companion to We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, hooks's 23rd book for adults is a fierce, quirky denunciation of patriarchy and a clarion call to the uncommitted to align themselves with visionary radical feminism. In 12 slim chapters, hooks examines the stages of a man's life, from babyhood through boyhood to the teenage years into manhood. She finds patriarchy plays a role in most socio-sexual ills, as boys and men seek alienating sex as a substitute for the love that often seems, because of demands on families that destroy them or keep them from forming, unavailable to men: "Sex, then, becomes for most men a way of self-solacing. It is not about connecting to someone else but rather releasing their own pain." The men who can lead us out of patriarchal chains are "men of color from poor countries, men who live in exile, men who have been victimized by imperialist male violence"-the Dalai Lama for example. While she calls Will Smith films such as Men in Black and Independence Day tools of the patriarchy, hooks saves her big guns for J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, scornfully exposing them as foisted on us by "rich white American men" and no more than updated version of the British schoolboy books that fueled the fantasies of Victoria's empire. A better book to buy for children, she suggests, might be her own recent Be Bop Buzz. Hooks is always readable, but her takes on mass media here have a retro ring to them.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

George Weinberg author of Why Men Won't Commit Compelling study of the culture's unfairness to men. -- Review
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (December 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743456076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743456074
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The Will to Change" by bell hooks is one of the best books I have ever read. bell hooks gets to the heart of the ways in which most of us (men and women, people of all classes and races) are harmed by patriarchy, as well as exposing the ways in which we unconsciously replicate it in our personal lives. Her ideas are big enough to include all people who are struggling with division, oppression, and/or general un-wholeness and unhappiness, not just women. She suggests that the way to freedom is for us to love each other and support each other on our journies to wholeness. She clearly and consistently frames the struggle as one of hurting people yearning to be whole and free. This is a theory that is accessible to everyone - anyone who searches their heart, or just observes the society around them, can see that what she says is true. As a feminist who is married and loves men, I found her advice to be full of wisdom, with a refreshing lack of intellectual elitism.

After reading this wonderful work, I am more convinced than ever that heart and soul are the primary components of our future evolutionary path. Hats off to you, ms. hooks!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book started with clear examples of what ms. hooks would like to see change, but about 2/3 of the way through shifted into arguing her case for what kind of change should happen and became very fuzzy. She has a theory, but I found myself wondering what she based her theory and what the change would look like, on. It got to be that she was just piling on to convince the reader that the form of her ideas was good and should be implemented, but never articulated how she arrived at her ideas, or what supported the formation of those ideas. Disappointing read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. This needs to be recommended reading for all men. I'll probably give my son this when he's a teenager.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A few things stand out about this book. First, it is refreshingly willing to call the feminist movement out on its s***. I state this first because men who are less likely to read this book because of frustration with feminism need to hear this. As well, it's deeply honest, and not at all compromising in its radicalness to achieve the balance it has.

Lastly, and most importantly, it's just deeply relevant. It matches so much of my experience, and has helped me see what I need to work on to improve my life. I recommend it to men to help see how they can live more fully and have better relationships (with men and women), and to women to see how to help support men in making these changes, as well as to understand our struggles.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
bell hooks states that feminists have not discussed how to improve the lives of men and this is her attempt. In 11 chapters, she details her ideas that men must be open to feminism and feminists must be open to men, that patriarchal masculinity is the problem, not males, and that much harm comes to the life of boys.
Professional critics have called this book that non-race-based equivalent to "We Real Cool." However, I'd say it's the male counterpart to hooks' "Communion." This book is an ideal tool for feminist women raising sons. It also may be a good introduction to feminism for progressive men or men who want to be progressive. hooks cites many canonical men's studies texts and progressive books on boys and men that many readers will find useful. (Again, it's a shame that this book lacks a bibliography, just like most of her most recent works.)
While this book discusses romantic love, that type of relationship is not the main issue here. Readers that have already heard enough about hooks' views on love from her autobiographies and recent works will find this refreshing. Many loving dynamics are detailed here. Most importantly, hooks discusses the troubles faced by little boys. I'm impressed that a childless writer is so devoted to children. This almost reminded me of Rosie O'Donnell's autobiography the way a grown woman is so concerned about minors.
I would say that I have three major complaints/critiques of her book. First, as much as she constantly assesses and promotes feminism, what comes through is that anti-oppression books can help men. Her gender analysis just happens to be her angle. A civil rights activist could have said that organizing could help men or a Communist discussing anti-classism could make the same argument that hooks makes here.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read this when it was published and couldn't put it down. Recently bought it again and gave it to my boyfriend. He struggles with masculine expectations, people in his life have urged him to be more tough and manly. He read this in a couple of days and came out with a thoughtful analysis of how patriarchy has influenced his life and the people he's known. He doesn't call himself a feminist but he has a critique of how harmful patriarchy is.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book has helped me to better understand, at a fundamental level, how deeply racism and patriarchy impacts the relationship dynamics between the sexes.Her writing is clear and to the point, but tempered with honesty, empathy , and compassion. If you are interested in learning to apply critical consciousness and "de-colonize" your mind, I can't recommend bell hooks enough.
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