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The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  744 ratings  ·  91 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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Feminism is for Everybody by Bell HooksAin't I a Woman by Bell HooksFeminist Theory by Bell HooksAll About Love by Bell HooksTeaching to Transgress by Bell Hooks
bell hooks bibliography
14th out of 45 books — 1 voter
What's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective ... by Martha Char LoveThe Orphan Conspiracies by James MorcanGENIUS INTELLIGENCE by James MorcanThe Will to Change by Bell HooksClear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
Most Important Books Of My Life
4th out of 29 books — 10 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,520)
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Alex
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
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
Sara-Maria Sorentino
Apr 05, 2009 Sara-Maria Sorentino rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
Michelle
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
Martin
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
Victoria
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
Sham Al-Ghazali
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
Miri
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
Samiam
Changed my life in a majorly positive way, incredibly affirming, highly recommended.
Walter Briggs
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
Annie
"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
jessica malice
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
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.
Kimberly
Sep 27, 2014 Kimberly rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Marta
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.
Austin Dunmore
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
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
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.
Timothy Browning
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
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
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
If you are a man, or know a man, this book is worth a read.
Chris Tempel
bell hooks has written around 50 books in her academic career and is one of the most popular academics in the US.. She writes on topics such as home & belonging, black womanhood, feminist theory, representation in cinema, white supremacy and patriarchy, and love (especially as a review of meaning).

Patriarchy, to hooks, is a political, social, personal affect, and it counts its crimes in murders and broken bonds. Men are socialized from boyhood to carry a gun, so to speak, and others enable t
...more
William
I picked up Bell Hooks' book The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love because Anita Sarkeesian, feminist media commentator and critic of video game culture, recommended it on twitter a midst a flurry of death threats from anonymous douchebags. She was talking about "toxic masculinity," which is becoming a buzzword in popular feminist conversations.

The Will to Change is a feminist book about toxic masculinity, how the patriarchy creates it, and what men and women can do to put a stop to it.
...more
Amanda
Why this book is not required reading for men and women alike, I have no real answer for. Public education is an endless cacophony of fact memorization; we are supposedly priming our youth for the real world, for what every parent would say is for the future good of their child. There is no greater good than the insight The Will to Change can provide on truly loving maleness.

Instead of grooming children for war, we should take our education system to task for failing to supplement an answer for
...more
Matt Fimbulwinter
A good - but not light - read. hooks captures a lot of the issues with traditional models of masculinity. She goes further than I would in linking violence with the patriarchy, and uses the word love differently than I do, but that isn't a bad thing. The central idea, that feminism needs male buy-in so that we can smash the patriarchy that is screwing all of us over, is one that is pretty important to me. I went for this book because so much of the reading I do around that central idea is by men ...more
Catia
Filled with so much compassion and wisdom. A must for anyone looking to bring their feminist pendulum swing back to centre. Bell Hooks managed to deliver some well thought out words to some long standing innate feelings of my own. It's comforting and inspiring to know that her voice is out there.
Driving home the point that it isn't men that we should be hating per se but 'the man.' That it's the patriarchal system, which has been designed to exploit humanity (i.e war) that actually has BOTH gend
...more
Duncan Robertson
The pseudonym bell hooks is an excellent metaphor for her writing: a pure, ringing sound, dispelling the bloody hooks of patriarchy from one’s very being. Her extraordinary capacity for critical thinking, based in a love ethic, is prevalent in the Will to Change. She uses feminist theory as a framework for compassion, focusing on those humans stuck in the role of the oppressor: patriarchal manhood. Her analysis of it was most helpful to me, her advice on escape strategies more so. I strongly rec ...more
Tarah Fedenia
Read this, all men and women! Wake up to the ways patriarchy affects men and also women. So good, read it with an open heart and it may revolutionize your mind. A cute man who let it help open his heart and give him freedom recommended it to me. Hooks offers a radical politics of love.
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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...
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center All About Love: New Visions Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

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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.” 13 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.” 11 likes
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