The Paris Review

Staff Picks: Hooks, Twizzles, and Symphonies

bell hooks.

In a compelling and widely read editorial published Thursday, “,” Michael Ian Black argues that the blame for our society’s gun-violence epidemic lies, at least in part, with our broken standards of masculinity. While feminism has expanded the definition of womanhood, he writes, no commensurate movement has helped boys to reimagine what it might mean to become men: “I think we [men] would benefit from the same conversations girls and women have been having for these past 50 years.” Black is correct that masculinity has failed to evolve, but conversations about that failure have in fact been happening for some time. One person who has consistently tried to break the silence is bell hooks. In her 2004 book , hooks, like Black, criticizes what she interprets as an intellectual and cultural silence on the subject of men. “Feminist theory has offered us brilliant critiques of patriarchy,” she writes, “and very few insightful ideas about alternative masculinity, especially in relation to boys.” In personal, approachable prose, she examines how both women and men perpetuate a patriarchal model of masculinity—albeit to disparate reward—and explores “what the alternative to patriarchal masculinity, it strikes me that the continued paucity of such alternatives stems less from a lack of answers than from an unwillingness to ask the question. —

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