Review: The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by Bell Hooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

hooks offers a compelling critique about how masculinity is constructed in American culture and malformed due to the systemic effects of patriarchy.  However, because no one is willing to name patriarchy's negative effects on how we conceive of manhood, it inevitably denies men a fuller and more meaningful sense of masculinity. She traces out some of the ways in which this impacts different genders and sexualities, highlighting how many across both spectrums uphold a patriarchal and often, toxic masculinity regardless of their desire to do so since we have so few examples and scripts to work from otherwise.  Like much of her other work, hooks grounds this in her own experiences to illustrate how she has come to the topic and experiences it within her own personal history. With her, I always find this enhances the experience as she's never using her ideas to say she is beyond something nor does she expect her experience to be the only way to conceive of the problem she is exploring.  The most powerful piece in the book is how she traces out the challenges that men face in trying to be something other than what culture trains into them with regard to how they express and contain their emotional lives but also that it is not just men but others who demand that they do this; the result are troubled men of all sorts who are denied the opportunity to be who they are rather than what society demands of them.

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