Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: "The Will To Change" by Bell Hooks

I recently finished this book and although it wasn't exactly what I expected, I did enjoy the book nonetheless.  The book focuses on "love" and the ability for men to show emotion, express feelings and basically be in touch with their feminine masculinity.  It covers how rare this is in today's society.  The book was written in 2004 and is still accurate for today's times.  It talks a lot about feminism and how the movement back in the 60's / 70's got a bad rap from the women that used it as a "man hater" type of position.  In actuality the book says in it's opening, "Every female wants to be loved by a male. Every woman wants to love and be loved by the males in her life. Whether gay or straight, bisexual or celibate, she wants to feel the love of father, grandfather, unlce, brother or male friend. If she is heterosexual she wants the love of a male partner."

The book goes into great detail telling why the majority of males lack the ability to love in the way that their women would like them to love.  It describes the Male Patriarchy (and uses the word Patriarchy way too much in my humble opinion) as the main reason for the way things are today, the reason why boys are told at a young age not to cry or show emotion, and how this culture brings up children with the idea that the male of the species is in someway superior to the female.

I'll share with you a few quotes from pages I made note to return to after reading the book, these will sum up the highlights of what I learned or insights I enjoyed from this book.

"In an anti patriarchal culture males do not have to prove their value and worth. They know from birth that simply being gives them value, the right to be cherished and loved."

"Many anti patriarchal parents find that the alternative masculinities they support for their boy children are shattered not by grown-ups but by sexist male peers."

"Much of the anger boys express is itself a response to the demand that they now show any other emotions. Anger feels better than numbness because it often leads to more instrumental action."

From "The Heart of the Soul" by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis - "Anger prevents love and isolates the one who is angry. It is an attempt, often successful, to push away what is most longed for - companionship and understanding. It is a denial of the humanness of others, as well as a denial of your own humanness. Anger is the agony of believing that you are not capable of being understood and that you are not worth of being understood. It is a wall that separates you from others as effectively as if it were concrete, thick, and very high. There is no way through it, under it, or over it."

"Usually this moment comes in adolescence, when many caring and affectionate mothers stop giving their sons emotional nurturance for fear that it will emasculate them. Unable to cope with the loss of emotional connection, boys internalize the pain and mask it with indifference or rage. Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them."

"Most folks believe we are hard-wired biologically to long for sex but they do not believe that we are hard-wired to long for love. Almost everyone believes that we can have sex without love; most folks do not believe that a couple can have love in a relationship if there is no sex."

In reference to the movie "American Beauty" - "They echo the patriarchal message that if a man stops work, he loses his reason for living."

From "Love and Survival" by Dean Ornish - "I am learning that the key to our survival is love. When we love someone and feel loved by them, somehow along the way our suffering subsides, our deepest wounds begin healing, our hearts start to feel safe enough to be vulnerable and to open a little wider. We begin experiencing our own emotions and the feelings of those around us."

Old standards of male sex role versus new masculinity discussed and organized in good fashion on this site that I was able to locate with the help of the Goog.

"To heal, men must learn to feel again. They must learn to break the silence, to speak the pain. Often men, to speak the pain, first turn to the women in their lives and are refused a hearing. In many ways women have bought into the patriarchal masculine mystique. Asked to witness a male expressing feelings, to listen to those feelings and respond, they may simply turn away."

"Integrity is needed for healthy self-esteem. Most males have low self-esteem because they are constantly lying and dissimulating (taking on false appearances) in order to perform the male sexist role."

"The love women are looking for in a relationship with men is one based on mutuality in partnership. Mutuality is different from equality."

Overall a good read and it lead me to some other works by Nathaniel Brandon and Terrance Real, among others listed above...

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