Review | The Will To Change Men, Masculinity, and Love

*yay my first book review.

I recently purchased some books from Amazon, 'The Will To Change Men, Masculinity, and Love' being one of them. I decided to review this book first, as it is a topic I have taken a lot of interested in recently. This is my first book review and I wasn't sure how to approach this, hopefully you like it.

First Impressions

If I'm honest, I didn't expect Hooks to approach the topic in the way she did. Typically when I think of women speaking on feminism I expect it to be quite cold and man nating. I assumed Hooks was going to go down the route of being one sided, or the type of feminist that is most commonly known. You know the feminist who apparently hates men. However Hooks has taken more of a well balanced approach when addressing feminism and the inclusison of men within the movement.

I 100% agree with the message Hooks pushes thoroughtout the book. Feminism and dismantling patriarchy cannot be successful with the support and involvement of men. Originally when I took to feminism I wasn't thinking about the involvement of men, it never even crossed my mind.

I tend to get really involved in the writing, so this may be a long post.

Favourite headwrap from; Sunukër & Artificial flowers are from; Wilko

About Men - Preface

"I had not been able to confess that not only did I not understand men, I feared them".

Hooks starts the book off with her journey towards discovering feminism and figuring out where she fits in the whole movement.

It's interesting to read that Hooks believes men are capable of change, but that men feared change. I can definitely understand where she is coming from there.

I think when women today identify as feminists they go about life in a very different way to the past generations of feminists. We saw what past generations did with feminism, and still wondered why so many things were still off limits for us. I feel as if the reason why so many women, especially black women today are for the movement is because it's liberating and puts the control of our lives back in our own hands. Feminism allows us to understand ourselves on a whole new level, you begin to explore your personality and question some of your choices.

"It is true that masses of men have not even began to look at the ways that patriarchy keeps them from knowing themselves".

I don't think men have the freedom to be able to do know themselves. Women of colour are used to feeling like the odd ones out in society. I feel like many women feel as if they have nothing else to lose, but rather a lot to gain from female empowerment and gender equality.

My Thoughts

I bought this book because of the title, unaware that Hooks would delve into feminism and patriarchy. I spoke about feminism in my Rambling On About Feminism post. Originally I wasn't sure If I was a feminist, and I am still unsure about where I am within the movement, however the easiest way to explain my views on gender equality is to say that I am feminist.

I love the fact that Hooks explores all the factors that come into play when addressing patriarchy. It's not just her one sided view only addressing how women are the ones affected by patriarchy. She talks about the emotional abuse men face from the moment their gender is revealed, to the day they die.

"Patriarchy is the single most life threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation"

Hooks doesn't hold back, and I love it. This isn't a male bashing book. This is raw, the truth about the systematic abuse women and men face due to patriarchy.

Men who consciously or unconsciously uphold patriarchy sacrifice experiencing self love and love for anyone else. You cannot love if you're incapable of understanding love in it's authenticity.

I thought by the end of the book, I would get an answer. I thought I would know what to do next to end patriarchy. I now realise that this is bigger than me and that this book only looks into the many factors that keep men trapped in this system, the only way out is if men challenge patriarchy.

"They think that men will go mad if they cannot act sexually. This is the logic that produces what feminist thinkers call "a rape culture"

When I first started reading this book, I thought it would be great for women who want to understand feminism and patriarchy better. Now that I have read it, I think this is a book men need to read. Hooks mentions that women are the ones reading these books but there's not much we can do with this information other than spreading the word. But even then we are looked at like we are crazy and trying to ruin a mans masculinity. Which isn't the case, I don't believe masculinity is a negative thing. However patriarchal masculinity is highly destructive. Hooks expresses the need for a new form of masculinity; feminist masculinity.

 "Men caught up in the logic of patriarchal masculinity have difficulty believing that their souls matter".

Hooks explains how patriarchy has men in a constant lie. Constantly wearing a mask, hiding their authentic selves in fear of being shamed. Men are unable to be whole as they are constantly trying to be somebody else. We now see a large amount of black women creating spaces for black women to be carefree, to be surrounded by like minded women, to exchange experiences. Men rarely have spaces like this, which is why patriarchy continues.  Men need spaces to take off their masks and spaces to express themselves.

"Men suffer depression frequently because of their own unfulfilled expectations or their perfectionism (which can never be satisfied since to be human is to be imperfect)".

I can definitely put some faces and names to that statement. Sometimes I get the feeling that men are constantly competing to be the jack of all trades. We are not perfect people, however patriarchy has taught men that they must tick a certain amount of boxes in order to be the right kind of man. And if he doesn't tick all of the boxes he is a failure and that's when the depression kicks in.

"For years patriarchal culture has taught men that their self hood, their manhood, is affirmed by a lack of interest in personal growth; all of a sudden in the wake of feminist movement, women were bombarding men with new emotional expectations. Collectively men responded with a feeling of depression"

In my Rambling On About Feminism, I said that I think men laugh at women claiming feminism, because they know there is too much power within patriarchy. Men know how much women value relationships, marriage and having children. Men know that a lot of women aim for marriage and children. Men know that women have a time frame, they use it to their advantage.

Why be whole when you can still attract women? When you can still be employed? When you can still find women to have sex with? All the things that define a successful men. Men are praised for sexual conquests and employment, whereas women are praised for their looks, their ability to carry and raise children and all the other stereotypical gender roles.

"Patriarchy as a system remains in tact, and many people continue to believe that it is needed if humans are to survive as a species".

Patriarchy is so embedded into society that people genuinely believe that without it men will no longer have a place in society. I think it would be way too drastic for masculinity to completely disappear, men will still hold onto patriarchy even if it is no longer a norm. I think that's why Hooks suggests feminist masculinity, instead of the masculinity that is taught now.
Rating out of 5


I think I went on a bit too much in this post, so I will end this post with a short and sweet final review. I think this book is a great read for those looking to understand patriarchy and feminism. I wouldn't say this is exclusively for anyone specifically, however I think men will benefit from it more.

I have given this book top marks because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's a topic I enjoy learning about, like anything enlightening it does make you feel hyper aware of certain behaviours. It has made me look at men differently, as well as relationships. I do question how relationships work when you are aware of these things. I guess that's a topic for another post.

If you know of any books on the topic of feminism, please do let me know in the comments. I would love to read some more books on feminism.

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