Bell Hooks’ The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

Bell Hooks’ The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

In the book The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, written by Bell Hooks, ideas on how people can live in a world where men and women belong together, are provided. The author calls on men to reclaim feminism by examining the causes of patriarchy’s continued control over men and their lives and arguing that this is the only way to effectively address the current crisis of masculinity. Because it separates men from their feelings and views asking for help as a sign of vulnerability, patriarchy is bad for males. Men are always under pressure to uphold a rigid definition of masculinity, fight with each other, and demonstrate their manliness by rejecting their inherent humanity and giving up their sense of self-worth. Several quotes from the book demonstrate how patriarchy is affecting the lives of the people around them, especially their families.

Hooks states, “The unhappiness of men in relationships, the grief men feel about the failure of love, often goes unnoticed in our society precisely because the patriarchal culture does not care if men are unhappy” (Hooks, 2004, pp 19). This means that men are taught a type of emotional conservatism by patriarchal practices, which dictates that they tough when they cannot feel anything. However, when they can feel something hurtful, the male answer is to shove it down, fail to recall it, and hope it goes away. The main reason why most men search for the pre-made ideal woman is that they genuinely believe that relationship issues cannot be resolved. It appears easier to flee than to discuss when even the little thing goes wrong.

The author also argues that “Patriarchy promotes insanity. It is at the root of the psychological ills troubling men in our nation. Nevertheless, there is no mass concern for the plight of men” (Hooks, 2004, pp 35). One of the main factors endangering men’s physical as well as psychological well-being is patriarchy. Since masculinity fosters risk-taking behavior and inhibits assistance, patriarchal views about masculinity can be extremely dangerous to men’s health. Embracing patriarchal culture, which trains men to suppress their emotions, will consign them to a life characterized by mental numbness if people are unable to mend what they are unable to feel according to Hooks. Men are less likely to ask for help unless they are ill or injured than women, which is a self-enhancing behavior.

According to Hooks, “Just as maternal sadism flourishes in a world where women are made to feel that their emotional cruelty to sons makes them better prepared for manhood, paternal sadism is the natural outcome of patriarchal values” (Hooks, 2004, pp 45).  Additionally, patriarchy inspires dominance over women, validates and is in favor of the devaluation of women, and nurtures male superiority and violence. Violence to women of all ages is a pressing issue everywhere. I have learned that when boys grow up and become men, patriarchy both causes and stores boys’ wrath, allowing them to use it to become a resource. This wrath may be used to fuel more imperialism, bigotry, and oppression of both men and women on a worldwide scale because it is a national issue.

In conclusion, patriarchy supports standards and behaviors that are neither attainable nor acceptable, and as a result, men significantly suffer the consequences. In his book, Bell Hooks talks about suggestions for how individuals can coexist with men and women in society. A political-social system known as patriarchy holds that males are innately superior to all those who are considered weak, particularly females. It also holds that males have the authority to rule over those who are disadvantaged and to uphold their position of power by utilizing different kinds of mental terrorism and physical violence. Hooks urges everyone to embrace feminism as it is beneficial to everyone since it eliminates the demands of gender roles, dispels stereotypes, and breaks down the binary.



Hooks, B. (2004). The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. New York: Atria Books.



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