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January Meeting Recap: The Will to Change by bell hooks

Updated: Jun 1

Discussion topics, relevant themes & media recommendations to wrap up (or kickstart) your reading of bell hooks' The Will to Change!

ID: (From left to right) Hottie Douglas is seated in front of sunlit windows, smiling and holding a copy of The Will to Change by bell hooks. Hottie Nick is seated in front of a white wall in a white sweatshirt holding a copy of The Will to Change by bell hooks. Hottie Alea wears an orange hat and a gray sweatshirt holding a copy of The Will to Change by bell hooks, next to Hottie Charles wearing a red sweatshirt (text reads: OHIO STATE) -- the two stand in front of a line of bare trees.

For our January meeting, we decided to revisit one of our favorite authors from our first year with Hardcover Hotties, bell hooks. We hosted our meeting discussion virtually, and were met with both new and old members ready to discuss The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love.

In January of 2022, we read All About Love, and couldn’t wait to further explore its parallels through a continuation of hooks’ revolutionary love manifesto. This book challenged many of our assumptions about patriarchy and its impact, prompting the self-reflection necessary to begin dismantling its harmful structure both internally and externally, while engaging in critical analysis of its theoretical shortcomings. Below, we’ve outlined some of the key points of our discussion. Feel free to incorporate them into your reading of or post-reading reflection upon The Will To Change!

If you haven’t read The Will To Change or All About Love, we highly encourage you to do so! Both books by hooks encourage change on approachable yet deeply relationally powerful levels. By breaking down the different arenas we find ourselves in– romantic relationships, friendships, families, and even the workplace – we are met with an approach to positive change that feels approachable and accomplishable. The themes highlighted below touch upon this, and the media recommendations can further your learning on related topics. If you weren’t able to make it to the meeting, or are curious as to how Hardcover Hotties meetings work, check out the Zoom recording on our Youtube channel!


Discussion Topics & Relevant Themes

Initial thoughts & criticisms

  • The importance of naming

  • Hooks does the hard work of deconstructing common notions of patriarchy – what it looks like and how it hides – by identifying and clarifying its manifestations that are particularly problematic, which she deems imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy. In naming, she arms readers with the tools to articulate issues within these harmful societal structures.

  • “This made me angry.” - Jennifer

  • Hooks calls for feminists to center men. For many Hotties, The Will to Change was frustrating. From the start of the book, she is clear about who her audience is: feminists who have left men out of their activist practice. At times, it felt as if it served as a romantic guide to understanding men, or to explain away individual cases of patriarchal violence. It can be especially difficult to think about these topics, when they are loaded with fear, frustration and resentment.

  • Bioessentialist language and a focus on cisgender-heterosexual perspectives left readers wanting a more inclusive analysis.

  • The solutions were lacking

  • A culture of love and non-patriarchal masculinity is desirable. But is it feasible? Is it viable in our current economic, political and social states?

Reflecting on personal enablements of patriarchal violence

  • “Damn, it’s really everybody.” - Douglas

  • Queer spaces are not free from perpetuating patriarchal violence

  • Book connection: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

  • At what point, does (men = patriarchy) stop being true?

  • We find ourselves tying men intensely to the patriarchy. A man is a patriarchal man until the moment that one feels safe, secure, heard and loved.

  • “Masculinity is a performance. Patriarchy is a prison.” - Charles

  • Unlearning can be an especially isolating task, especially for those most affected by patriarchal masculinity. You may be forced to deny parts of oneself.

Emotional presence in the workforce

  • “Work stands in the way of love.” – Brynne

  • Work is oftentimes falsely seen as love or as a form of love, at the expense of caregiving and maintenance of familial and romantic relationships. Hooks’ discusses at length this common disconnect that is seen between the household and the workplace, as well as the generational gaps that persist in this realm.

  • Encouraging connection building in the workplace can make a huge difference in the way that people act and interact inside and outside of the office.

  • The love ethic

  • Healthy and fulfilling relationships require of us to unlearn the belief that relationships will maintain themselves with emotional distance. We must relearn, and in many cases learn for the first time, how to love and what it takes to be successful in that.

Who is a father?

  • Emotional expectations

  • How often do we find ourselves holding mothers to higher emotional standards? Why is it easier to forgive fathers for their emotional shortcomings than it mothers?

  • Book connection: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

  • “There is no better person to be a friend than a child.” - Alea

  • How are we to start and maintain accountability conversations with those who need it? How are we to bridge these emotional gaps?

  • It takes courage and bravery to have hard conversations – they’re intended to be uncomfortable.

The burden of patriarchal (un)education

  • What is equal power?

  • Equal power can adequately be described as collaboration, cooperation and collective care. For one to lack a “will to change,” they bear an inability to give up power and to strive toward hooks’ conception of equality.

  • Why is the burden of education on the gender minority?

  • It is the gender minority that are having these conversations and doing the hard work of self-reflection and self-education. It can be frustrating when feminist conversations and confrontations are oftentimes met with projections of patriarchal insecurities in response.

Accountability, extending care & bridging emotional gaps

  • Question men

  • Do non-masculine things with men

  • Ask “how are you feeling?”

  • Meet people where they are at

  • Loving people & loving the things that made them

  • Patience

Media Recommendations


See you next time!

Thanks for reading with us! Check into our Instagram @hardcoverhotties soon for March Book of the Month and meeting updates :3

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