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The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  923 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are -- w ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 21st 2004 by Washington Square Press (first published December 30th 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alex
Jan 19, 2009 Alex rated it it was amazing
Shelves: patriarchy, favorites
bell hooks defines this project as an attempt to love men enough to understand how patriarchy affects them, and understand how their pain can help them transform and challenge patriarchy. For me it was a profound experience reading this because it touched on so many aspects of my life as a male, from childhood, to school, to sex and relationships, to friendships, etc. It allowed me to see old memories in new ways, and understand that my feelings of pain, confusion and shame were a result of the ...more
Dominic
May 22, 2011 Dominic rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
When I developed my feminist sensibilities in the 1990s, it was bell hooks who was first to validate not only my place as a feminist man but to ardently argue for my space as a comrade in feminist work. It was going to take feminist women and feminist men collaborating together in order to do the work so desperately needed.

Ever since then, bell hooks has been a huge part in my growth as a feminist, teacher, and man. And since the publication of The Will to Change in 2004, I've probably returned
...more
Miri
Dec 22, 2014 Miri rated it really liked it
Important and original. I appreciate how much space hooks spends on quoting and citing other authors (especially psychotherapists, which made me happy); it's the mark of a great thinker who isn't afraid to give credit where credit is due. This is one of the rare books on masculinity that addresses the topic with sensitivity and also without blaming women or feminism for all of the problems.

My two main criticisms are:

1) hooks seems very gender-essentialist. She continually expresses her arguments
...more
Sara-Maria
Apr 05, 2009 Sara-Maria rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: al(l)i(e)son, kalia, jess, ladies and gents
hooks writes, with care and patience, of the social disease that is patriarchy and its attendant costs for men, women and the relationships that sustain them. in conversational tone, she tells stories of how the ways in which men learn to deny or displace their feelings creates a whole population of emotional cripples, subject to constant suffering. And by avoiding this pain and the ways oppressive systems oppress across all divides, we women are not only doing an injustice to the men in our liv ...more
Sajani
Jan 03, 2013 Sajani rated it it was amazing
This book has answered almost every question I've ever had about men and why they are the way they are. It has helped restore my faith in men as a sex. Instead of just pointing out the injustices of patriarchy, Hooks explains, step by step, exactly how men are socialized to be violent, and given misguided notions about what it means to be 'male.' For the first time, I was introduced to the idea that men suffer from patriarchy even as they are privileged by it. Because of Hooks, I've been inspire ...more
Sivananthi T
Dec 05, 2015 Sivananthi T rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a long time back, at a younger age, when the concept of love was still something small, and limited in my mind. I shrugged off much of this book then, because I could not grasp the profundity of what hooks was talking about. I returned to this same book so many years later, and find that I now understand what she calls us to do, in transforming masculinity, not men, but the concepts of patriarchy which dominate the interpretation of masculinity. And what it demands of us, not only of ...more
Sham Al-Ghazali
Jul 22, 2014 Sham Al-Ghazali rated it it was amazing
I finished the book within a week, and I concluded that Bell Hooks is the greatest contribution to feminism. My favourite chapter was on the male sexual being, it was so horrifically true, especially the paragraph on violence being equated to sex (fucking, bashing, banging, etc).

I think it's falls on the duty of feminists to not exclude men from the movement, because in doing so we are indirectly contributing to patriarchy. To show men love, real love, is the most forward way of thinking to be
...more
Martin
Mar 07, 2013 Martin rated it it was amazing
What a human being bell hooks is. Despite being a female, she pierced my depressed and troubled soul fraught with self-inflicted wounds from masculinity. Every chapter was a journey with different aspects of myself, and I often put the book down to ruminate on her words and wisdom. She lays bare, clear for anybody to see, the contradictions of masculinity and patriarchy, and how they harm men and women. Above of all, it is the severance of men from their emotional self that harms society, that c ...more
Walter Briggs
Mar 18, 2015 Walter Briggs rated it it was amazing
This book absolutely changed my life. How often do you get to say that? Even better, it was a gift from one of my daughters (who was then surprised that I read it!)

It told me more about myself, my upbringing, and my place in the world than I could have imagined. If this were required reading for every member of modern society, the world would be a more habitable place. It could literally end war…

It's not easy, but neither is life. Women and men will both gain new insight into how we are all perp
...more
Victoria
Apr 13, 2015 Victoria rated it liked it
I have profound respect for bell hooks. She is and will probably always be one of the most clear minded and insightful feminist theorists for years to come. Her works and lectures can be both mind blowing and humbling.
And a book like this is important because men need a better understanding of their place in the movement as allies and we need to be reminded at times that they can and should be better.
That being said, it was clear that this book was going to be far more likely to appeal to a ma
...more
Michelle
Jun 02, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
I was surprised at this book. I was looking for a book that I could hold up to someone's face and say: "look--I'm right and you're wrong!" But it wasn't the case. bell hooks is really is a complex writer who challenges everybody. This book is not just for men who want to look deeply into themselves and see how Patriarchy effects and privileges their existence, but it also explains why men have so much less depth of emotions. It also forces women to see how we uphold patriarchy just as much as me ...more
Jessica Malice
Jul 20, 2012 Jessica Malice rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fictitious
I have read quite a lot of feminist literature that has similar themes to this book, but I found this to be one of the most inclusive, lovingly written examples yet. I'd recommend this to every man I know and every man I don't, as well as to every woman who feels angry towards men and thinks that men only ever benefit from the patriarchy, and that it is only men who perpetuate it, intentionally or not.
Maruk
Jan 31, 2015 Maruk rated it it was amazing
Incredibly cogent analysis on patriarchy and the ways in which men are stopped from expressing their own emotional angst. Hooks also notes that the system we live in is patriarchal, imperialist and capitalist, and all of these elements go towards explaining why the humanity of men is sacrificed to create emotionally crippled beings for a dominator society.

A must read for both men and women.
Annie Mahon
Jan 24, 2016 Annie Mahon rated it it was amazing
This book was a paradigm changer for me. If you are interested in understanding the painful ways in which men are socialized to ignore and repress their hearts, and want help knowing what we can do about it - this book is for you. The best book I've read in a while and one I am recommending to everyone.
Troy
Mar 23, 2016 Troy rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read something and it resounds with you. It is one thing to do so in fiction, with characters of your own making, in their own worlds, but it is another for a book to touch upon a very real issue in THIS world and try to address and remedy it.

As a Black man, hooks' memories of her and her brother struck me, mainly because I've been through them too. To go through an indoctrination of "be hard, don't cry, man up" was infinitely damaging to me and my peers, and we all came out somewh
...more
Laurie
Dec 25, 2015 Laurie rated it liked it
My younger son suggested that if I enjoyed Gloria Steinem's recent book then I should definitely read some of bell hooks; when pressed for a specific book he noted that he had read and appreciated this one. Never having heard of bell, I spent a curiosity-quenching hour researching her on the Internet, visiting her Twitter account, leading to Emma Watkins on Twitter, leading to this essay Feminism Is Fun! I also learned bell hooks is the pen (and preferred) name of Gloria Jean Watkins.

[Update: My
...more
Andy
Dec 20, 2015 Andy rated it it was amazing
"If we cannot heal what we cannot feel, by supporting patriarchal culture that socializes men to deny feelings, we doom them to live in states of emotional numbness."

While I have been educating myself in feminist theories lately, I started thinking about how much energy and emotional real estate I squandered due to misogynistic ideas and words. I have played my part in patriarchal gender norms and let me tell you, it was incredibly toxic. This book really hit close to home for me. Anyhow, I fe
...more
Ryan Mishap
Oct 24, 2015 Ryan Mishap rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, guide-books
An interesting book that reads like almost like self-help, albeit with a focus on patriarchy and a radical politics behind it rather than some fluffy New Age bullshit or ridiculous metaphor.

While she references and quotes many other works, hooks is writing directly from her experience and observations. Used to heavily footnoted books, I had a hard time settling into what she was saying, as I kept thinking, "Where's the evidence for that assertion? Any studies on that?" Not everything in our soci
...more
Annie
Mar 15, 2015 Annie rated it it was amazing
"Caring about men because of what they do for us is not the same as loving males for simple being. When we love maleness, we extend our love whether males are performing or not....In patriarchal culture males are not allowed simply to be who they are and to glory in their unique identity. Their value is always determined by what they do." pg. 11

"....rituals of power, using shaming, withdrawal, threats, and if all else fails, physical violence to maintain their position of dominance." pg. 57

...more
Kimberly
Sep 27, 2014 Kimberly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: men.
Shelves: felon-project
Interesting break-down of how patriarchy (the imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy in particular) negatively effects men.
And also how patriarchal mothers/women deserve a lot of responsibility for perpetuating the patriarchy!

"clearly patriarchal mothers who have rage act out with their sons. they may force the sone to enter into an inappropriate relationship in which he must provide for her the emotional connection grown men deny her or engage in emotional abuse in which the son i
...more
Samiam
Oct 13, 2014 Samiam rated it it was amazing
Changed my life in a majorly positive way, incredibly affirming, highly recommended.
Marta
Jun 07, 2012 Marta rated it really liked it
While I did not necessarily gain any new insights into the world of men, this book was a really great read. The chapter on feminist masculinity was especially helpful in articulating what, to me, feminism is really about: not just the desire for equal rights for women, but the desire for connection among and freedom of self for all genders from the oppressive damage of patriarchy.
Macy
Apr 03, 2016 Macy rated it it was amazing
A true masterpiece. I am forever grateful for the friend who recommended this book. Every work by bell hooks adds so many degrees of enrichment to my life, and new perspectives for the issues that I witness on a daily basis. I read this book at a pivotal point in my academic career, as I'm currently working on the methodology chapter of my dissertation (to be completed today!). The points raised in TWTC have inspired many of the questions I intend to ask the males in my study. I'm interested in ...more
Austin Dunmore
Feb 02, 2015 Austin Dunmore rated it really liked it
The Will To Change presents itself as a solution for men to embrace change, love, intimacy, and authentic masculinity. I don't know that it will hit those targets for all, or even the majority of men who will read it. (Just because hooks doesn't see evidence of an empowering men's movement doesn't mean there isn't one: she just doesn't move in the same circles, by the same token that not many of those men will have been exposed to her writings.) But what it does function as is a primer for men o ...more
Liz
Mar 05, 2015 Liz rated it really liked it
User-friendly guide on how the so-called "patriarchy" (hot button word if there ever was one) harms not only women but men. i like this book and the ideas therein, but sometimes i find her reliance on pretty much anecdote only to be kind of annoying; anecdote not being inherently a disqualifier, but i prefer anecdote paired with some more like, current-eventy kinds of things (i like how zizek does this) to illustrate or demonstrate a 'point.'

essentially patriarchal values destroy men's self-est
...more
junior
Aug 05, 2008 junior rated it did not like it
this is maybe the worst and also the most hilarious book i have ever been made to read. i sort of love it because of how ridiculous it is, never buy this book or try to read it. just call me and i will read you some quotes to laugh about to feel better.
T. Browning
Apr 15, 2014 T. Browning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was continuously challenging and stimulating and flows the way that only bell hooks can flow while talking about theory. I would have loved for this book to be a little more academic, with at least a bibliography and an index, as well as some more research (although lack of research is probably a big issue in this area). Part of this is that I am uncomfortable reading theory, but part is that the book feels a little rushed. That can't pull me away from giving 5 stars to a book that tau ...more
Nneka Ngene
Jul 03, 2014 Nneka Ngene rated it really liked it
I'm in awe of this woman. Bell Hooks effortlessly dismantles that which we have put up with for so long and shows us a different way. I don't have adequate words to describe how eye opening this book is. It brought clarity to a lot of things I'd already known but hardly understood.

A lot of the behaviour exhibited by men today is as a result of how they are socialized. What stood out for me over and over again is the process in which, young boys are made to kill their emotional side. They then g
...more
Alethea Bothwell
Jan 25, 2015 Alethea Bothwell rated it liked it
I liked everything she said (and agreed with most of it) but it wasn't an argument, more like affirmation after affirmation.
The patriarchy is bad. Women aren't the only ones hurt by the patriarchy - and indeed some of them help perpetuate it. Men are hurt by the patriarchy, and need to escape, to regain (attain) their full humanity. Women should not give up on men, but help them. They need love.
Well, yes, but that is what a lot of us have been doing all along, and some of us are tired of cate
...more
Christina
Apr 20, 2012 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a man, or know a man, this book is worth a read.
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bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in ...more
More about bell hooks...

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“Most gay men are as sexist in their thinking as are heterosexuals. Their patriarchal thinking leads them to construct paradigms of desirable sexual behaviour that is similar to that of patriarchal straight men.” 15 likes
“This fear of maleness that they inspire estranges men from every female in their lives to greater or lesser degrees, and men feel the loss. Ultimately, one of the emotional costs of allegiance to patriarchy is to be seen as unworthy of trust. If women and girls in patriarchal culture are taught to see every male, including the males with whom we are intimate, as potential rapists and murderers, then we cannot offer them our trust, and without trust there is no love.” 14 likes
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