The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love be! hooks
I began writing a book on love because I felt that the United States ismoving away from love. - bell hooks“Communities of resistance should be places where people can return tothemselves more easily, where the conditions are such that they can healthemselves and recover their wholeness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, The Raft isNot the Shore
bell hooks Gloria Watkins was born September 25, 1952, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, U.S. American scholar whose work examined the varied perceptions of black women andblack women writers and the development of feminist identities. Watkins grew up in asegregated community of the American South. At age 19 she began writing what wouldbecome her ﬁrst full-length book, Aint I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, which waspublished in 1981. hooks assumed her pseudonym, the name of her great-grandmother, to honor femalelegacies; she preferred to spell it in all lowercase letters to focus attention on her messagerather than herself. hooks studied English literature at Stanford University (B.A., 1973), the University ofWisconsin (M.A., 1976), and the University of California, Santa Cruz (Ph.D., 1983). She taughtEnglish and ethnic studies at the University of Southern California from the mid-1970s,African and Afro-American studies at Yale University during the 80s, womens studies atOberlin College and English at the City College of New York during the 1990s and early2000s. In 2004 she became a professor in residence at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.
bell hooks deﬁnes this project as an attempt to love men enough tounderstand how patriarchy affects them, and understand how their pain canhelp them transform and challenge patriarchy.Hooks’ overarching point was that patriarchy has created a divisionbetween males and emotion. She contends that this division has led to avariety of problems in how men approach and manage their relationshipswith others, and even how the lack of emotion has caused men toconceptualize reality in problematic ways. The issue of male un-emotioncannot be solved through societal, structural changes. Such changes ought tobe exhibited within the everyday lives of individuals through gracious words,gestures, and overall expressions of love.
Patriarchy is taught through violence 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.” Tough Guise & my feminist crush...
Healing not Hating“Within the early writings radical feminism, anger, rage, andeven hatred of men was voiced, yet there was no meaningfulattempt to offer ways to resolve these feelings, to imagine aculture of reconciliation where women and men might meet andﬁnd common ground.” p. xiWhat does it mean to love men in a patriarchal culture?Does it mean different things to men and women to love men?
“The truth we do not tell is that men are longing for love.” p. 4"Women and men alike in our culture spend very little timeencouraging males to learn to love. Even the women who arepissed off at men, women most of whom are not and maybe neverwill be feminist, use their anger to avoid being truly committed tohelping to create a world where males of all ages can know love.And there remains a small strain of feminist thinkers who feelstrongly that they have given all they want to give to men; they areconcerned solely with improving the collective welfare of women.Yet life has shown me that any time a single male dares totransgress patriarchal boundaries in order to love, the lives ofwomen, men and children are fundamentally changed for thebetter."(pp10)
Questions hooks poses...Do we not speak about men because we fear them, because wehave been taught to be silent about them, or because we havebeen socialized to keep secrets?How is male power enacted and maintained in our private lives?To not talk about men is to not take man and masculinityseriously.Do we want patriarchs to die? p. xiv
Sex...hooks examines the stages of a mans life, from babyhood through boyhood to theteenage years into manhood. She ﬁnds patriarchy plays a role in most socio-sexualills, as boys and men seek alienating sex as a substitute for the love that oftenseems, because of demands on families that destroy them or keep them fromforming, 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 ownpain." p.82is this a stereotype? why or why not?
feminist masculinity“…only a feminist vision that embraces feminist masculinity, that loves boysand men and demand on their behalf every right that we desire for girls andwomen, can renew men in our society. Feminist thinking teaches us all,males especially, how to love justice and freedom in ways that foster andafﬁrm life.” p. 111bell hooks’ wisdom has opened up new possibilities for all men, and it’s upto us to take the initiative, educate ourselves, get in touch with our ownemotions, our own human-ness and connection to others in a non-dominating way, and work together in love and resistance. We don’t justowe it to women, trans and genderqueer folks, we owe it to men too.
dominator model“When culture is based on a dominant model, not only will it beviolent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.” p. 116Most often it looks like jokes, put-downs, humiliation, scorn, andexclusion, but violence is at the heart of the matter. In fact, middleschool and high school in retrospect look like a 7 year-long gauntlet ofviolent social training. Learning to express pain without shame, andwield anger not against oneself (or others) but against patriarchalsociety, isn’t something that can change overnight.
exchange relationships of powerfor relationships of meaning... “To offer men a different way of being, we must ﬁrst replace the dominator model with a partnership model that sees interbeing and interdependency as the organic relationship of all living beings. In the partnership model, selfhood, whether one is female or male, is always at the core of one’s identity. Patriarchal masculinity teaches males to be pathologically narcissistic, infantile, and psychologically dependent for self-deﬁnition on the privileges (however relative) that they receive from having been born male. Hence many males feel that their very existence is threatened if these privileges are taken away. In a partnership model male identity, like its female counterpart, would be centered around the notion of an essential goodness that is inherently relationally oriented. Rather than assuming that males are born with the will to aggress, the culture would assume that males are born with the inherent will to connect.” p. 117
save themselves“Ultimately, boys and men save themselves when they learnthe art of loving.” p. 16“The vast majority of feminist women I encounter do not hatemen. They feel sorry for men because they see how patriarchywounds them and yet men remain wedded to patriarchalculture.” p. 109What are some concrete interventions that are safe?(might not be safe even in our families) VMEN, MRAV, peer educators, peers...
Loving MenWar and WarriorsEmotional Awareness “We do not love better or more than men, but we do ﬁnd it easier to get in touch with feelings , because even patriarchal society supports this trait in us.” (p.178)Sex - an emotional outlet (p.180, 181)Erotic p.183