What does “war” mean in bell hooks’s article “Loving Men” in The Will to Change? Why there is no love in patriarchal cultures?

In “Loving Men,” hooks discusses how the notion that men cannot love developed from the need to make men natural killers for war. Thus, war is at the root of socially constructed ideas of masculinity and the development of patriarchal cultures. There can be no love in patriarchal cultures because the men who dominate them are not emotionally aware.

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In bell hook's chapter “Loving Men” from The Will To Change, she says that “to write about men and love, I must speak of war.” She explains that the reason society has taught that men cannot love is that men cannot be both loving and natural killers. If men are “hardwired” to be able to take another person’s life, then they do not have be socialized to kill in situations of war. hooks also cites Barbara Ehrenreich, who calls attention to human history and how

war has been not simply a male occupation but rather ‘an activity that has often served to define manhood itself.

Thus the history and continued existence of war reinforce socially constructed definitions of masculinity. Widespread ideas that men are naturally aggressive and predatory and that the ideal man is warrior-like are all rooted in war. These were ideas developed over time to ensure men were capable of killing other humans for power.

These ideas have also shaped the emergence of patriarchal societies. The notion that men are supposed to be emotionless, loveless, machine-like creatures dehumanizes them and prevents them from being in touch with their true emotions and identities. As a result, we have what are referred to as “dominator cultures,” societies in which men are in control. Many men embrace the idea that they are supposed to be controlling predator-like creatures, rather than attempt emotional awareness and risk being seen as weak. In a society where the controlling forces are not in touch with their emotions, there can be no authentic love.

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