book review: the will to change by bell hooks

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

What are the main ideas?

  1. that men, just like all people of all genders, on the surface and deep down, want to love and be loved.
  2. patriarchy, in some surprising ways, prevents men from loving themselves and therefore creates barriers for them to love others and be loved themselves.
  3. patriarchy, at its root, severes men from parts of themselves (notable their feelings, emotions, and bodies) and that is what allows the physical manifestations of sexism.
  4. at the time of the book’s writing, the exploration of feminist men and feminist masculinity has been vastly underexplored, particularly as an unintended consequence of women-centered feminism.
  5. men, because they have been torn from themselves internally, end up with only two places to explore deep feeling: anger and sex. ironically, because neither of these is fundamentally connected to love, men’s socialization to seek these things takes them farther from giving love and makes them more difficult to love. this happens in short-term (dating) long-term dynamics (marriage).
  6. male integrity (meaning men integrating all parts of themselves) is the only path forward to creating a whole, full society. that will require us actually dealing with male pain and male trauma. the work of healing men will be difficult and there are some people, feminists included, who actually aren’t committed to and don’t want to that work. and still there are many people of all genders, feminist and not, who do want to do the work of creating integrated, whole, men and whole masculinity.

If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?

speak explicitly the ways that patriarchy harms men to men (and everyone).

How would I describe the book to a friend?

a standard mindblowing bell hooks text, this book explains clearly, essay after essay, how patriarchy has harmed men in their search for love. she lays out some of the work that needs to be undertaken in order to heal men and, inspite of her critiques of how that work has been avoided, it is clear that she loves men, wants men to love themselves, and wants people to love men.

reminder: book review structure

words / writing / post-processing
359w / 11min / 3min