Black Men x Love x Domination

Carry Out the Four Modernisations of the Fatherland (2007) by Kehinde Wiley

I have been thinking a lot Love + Domination + Black men.

Two weeks ago, I had a fever and couldn’t sleep so I was up dumb early, and I decided to re-read bell hook’s “The Will to Change” and I found that it offered a straight forward analysis of why Love is the opposite of domination and how patriarchy is the glue that holds this domination puzzle together.

hook’s main argument is that when we raise our boys not to feel they grow up to become men who do not know how to Love. #ummp.

I will provide some excerpts from the book below, along with some comments.

Men and Change

Men cannot change if there are no blueprints for change. Men cannot love if they are not taught the art of loving.

Consider this blog post and the other post, on Black masculinity as an effort to open, and continue a conversation about Black people, Black boys + men and feeling.

On Love and Domination

To know Love, men must be able to let go of the will to dominate. They must be able to choose life over death. They must be willing to change.

Game for Free on Women’s Unwillingness to Deal with Men in Pain

We cannot heal what we cannot feel, by supporting patriarchal culture that socializes men to deny feelings, we doom them to live in states of emotional numbness. We construct a culture where male pain can have no voice, where male hurt cannot be named or healed….Most women do not want to deal with male pain if it interferes with the satisfaction of female desire.

This kind of hit me in the gut because I asked on Twitter about men being allowed to feel. And MZ (if I recall correctly, I didn’t screen cap it:/) stated that men can express their feelings to women, but women may not be receptive nor willing to hear it.

This floored me.

This forced me to think about the times in which I did not want to deal with the man when he was in pain.? I then asked myself, did I create the space for such an expression to occur. I stay thinking about it, not just with men, but with my whole crew and with myself as well.

Defining Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a political social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.

Gives a whole new meaning to listening to “Bitches ain’t shit but ho’s and tricks.” #ummhmm.

bell hooks on Loving a Man But Resenting His Feelings

He was right. It was hard for me to face that I did not want to hear about his feelings when they were painful or negative, that I did not want any image of the strong man truly challenged by learning of his weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Here I was , an enlightened feminist woman who did not want to hear my man speak his pain because? it revealed his emotional vulnerability.

Feminist need to reflect on how we treat people too. We human. We make mistakes. We grow. #Ummhmm.

Men Women and Power

We claim our power fully only when we can speak the truth that we need men in our lives whether we want them to be or not. That we need men to challenge patriarchy, that we need men to change.

Wow. Talk about we are in this I Love when writers remind me of this.

The idea that how we raise our boys shapes the kind of men that they will be is incredibly interesting.

Isn’t this a more useful discussion than “why heterosexual middle class Black women can’t find a ‘good’ man?” #ummhmm. Peace to Negro men and women who talk about Black women to pay they mortgages and car notes.

Why is it that we force little boys to suppress their feelings then we are surprised that they turn into men who can’t feel and simply want to dominate?

For men readers, have you shared your feelings with a woman recently? Was she receptive? How did it turn out?

For women readers, to you give the men in your life space to be in pain and show emotions other than rage/anger? How does this work.

REALLY looking forward to your feedback.

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  1. unconventionalist says

    Reading this reminded me of the times when I’ve told my younger brothers or male cousins and friends to “man up” when they’re been emotional. Usually they’re crying about something silly, but even so, I feel like I’m just teaching them what our media and patriarchal society already teaches: real men don’t cry. Real men don’t show emotion; that’s for girls. As a young, black female who considers herself a feminist, I am ashamed of myself. I think I’ve made such comments partly because I don’t let MYSELF show emotion, but also because I’m not comfortable with men — or anyone, for that matter — being emotionally vulnerable. But that’s not right; it’s not healthy. We can’t expect men to change if we continue to condition them with unfair and unhealthy expectations. …I think some of us stone-cold feminists could use a lesson on sharing our emotions, too.

    Thanks for writing this post, it really made me think of what WE can do to help each other change.

  2. She-E-O says

    As a non-Black female (NBF), I react to this, I imagine, differently than my Black sisters. First of all, I was particularly struck by the idea that we (women) are unwilling to have men disrupt our “female desire,” which I feel we’ve worked hard to be socially privvy to. In fact, our sisters around the globe are denied emotional, sexual, spiritual and countless other desires the author of this post knows intimately. So, this seems to be a classic divide and conquer. Race versus gender. Read: Black men can dominate Black women, but that is all. Flash back to my intro comment and I picture the scene in Spike Lee’s “Malcom X” where he makes his white lover kiss his feet. Or, the intro where he explains what hunger makes Black men seek lighter women: taking back something from white men; revenge or spite, not love, driving them. In the end, though, he marries a Black woman. I mention this because sometimes, as a NBF Asian woman (white to some) I find we (NBFs) attempt to be tolerant of Black male emotions (or any man, but here especially) but fear our efforts will be in vain when eventually he’ll end up with a Nia Long (sweet, cute BF) or Alicia Keys (strong but tender BF) or Erykah Badu (funky, wild, down, vegan BF) type. I’ve never really verbalized this, so thank you for inspiring this candor. All this being said, we do not allow men to feel because we are afraid to challenge ourselves. I love my man because when he is vulnerable to me, I must painfully face my own shortcomings and growth is an uncomfortable thing. I’m constantly learning how men need us to let them be human. In Kanye’s words: “We all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it.”

  3. says

    As always you bring forward a very important conversation that we need to have as couples and collectively as a community. I am currently in the throws of writing a post on how patriarchy also damages men and what you have presented is the main reason. Men, especially hyper-masculine Black men, do not have a safe space to be full human beings- mostly because they are unable to express emotion, feelings, pain, weakness, etc. This masking imo leads to terrible mental health issues that our men are also unable to adequately express +have diagnosed. I speak of Black men’s mental health here:

    I think Hooks comments about Black women NOT allowing Black men to express pain is valid. There have been times when I have equated those expressions with whining. Terrible. I’m trying to move past that.

    I appreciate you always for creating a forum for us to speak on these things, and also for helping me be a better more thoughtful person.

  4. says

    Peace. I’ll answer the questions below.

    >>Why is it that we force little boys to suppress their feelings then we are surprised that they turn into men who can?t feel and simply want to dominate?

    My mother, proud as she is, was not one for a lot of emotional expression so in turn my brother and I became an exact replica of her. She also feared us being “soft” so she was extremely tough on us. But the undercurrent to this type of raising, in our case, is that we had a grandmother who continually doted on us, let us express ourselves fully and never held us back. Yes, true…the dichotomous nature of our lives took a tool on me as an adult but it never manifested into this this perpetual need to dominate. I never got into that. If anything, that manner of rearing made me a little less expressive and had me repressing who I was but not intentionally trying to rule either.

    >>For men readers, have you shared your feelings with a woman recently? Was she receptive? How did it turn out?

    Yes. I guess I have and it was fairly recent. She was receptive and I think because I’m single, she thought of it as a ploy for pity/sex when simply, I just needed an ear and expressed so with an almost repetitive slant. Once that ice was broken and she knew I was without motive, it opened up a good convo.

  5. izabellaspoppa says

    Love this post. It reminds me of how lucky I am. I am not one of those men who can’t express themselves to his woman (she’s the best, lol!) or was told as a boy that to cry/express my feelings was wrong. I was pretty much raised by females and all male influence was pretty distant. Now that’s not to say I was taught the opposite of of what most males are taught; I wasnt raised using some “mythical female agenda” or any of that, I was just allowed to be human. I am coming to realize that now. I kind of grew up on the outside of the hyper masculine thing and never understood it (as a matter of fact, I was a victim of it for some years). That’s not to say I was/am uninfluenced by patriarchy at all, it’s just that all of that came from tv/media and most of my male acquaintances and not from my home. Anyhow, this post is excellent as it points to the very true fact that most problems that exist within the “black community” can only be solved through cooperation of some sort.

  6. izabellaspoppa says

    wow. I was reading another post on here that made me rethink this statement: “That?s not to say I was/am uninfluenced by patriarchy at all, it?s just that all of that came from tv/media and most of my male acquaintances and not from my home”
    I just thought about how much my mother and aunts and cousins could’ve been/were affected by patriarchy and how they could have/have passed down certain internalized stuff to me(unintentionally of course). I love this blog…

  7. says

    It’s generational. I am not a mother, however my little cousins are having kids (20 somethings) and they are so caught up on NOT making their sons “fags.” I get on them all the time about calling their sons weak for crying or for taking interest in cooking. Isn’t that I survival skill? …and only the strongest of men cry. On the contrary, non of them are married and always bending backwards to get a man to love them. It is time to break the cycle. Each one teach one.

  8. MoreAndAgain says

    I can’t say that I’ve discouraged men from being emotional, but I’ve definitely never encouraged it; and for the same reason Unconventionalist mentioned, I don’t allow it in myself.

    I don’t allow myself to be emotional in front of others, so when anyone else is emotional in front of me I don’t really know how to deal with it (unless they’re on of my younger siblings who I’ve been surrogate mom to since they were born). I was raised to “be strong”, how does it look if I’m strong and my man is “weak”? That’s the mentality, right? Add to that growing up with a father who has always been emotionally unavailable, and I don’t know what supporting an emotional man looks like.

    Thanks for writing this, though. Now that I realize it, I can work on changing.

  9. says

    As a black man who has always had to re-evaluate my position in r/ships I’ve come to realize that a lot of black women really don’t want to perceive “weakness” in their man. Most of my friends, older folks around me believe and preach this to me that you cannot afford to approach or be in a r/ship with a black woman from a position of weakness, rather strength. Overtime, in my dealings with black women, I’ve found most cannot deal with my vulnerabilities, weaknesses or shortcomings. Esp, if they’re “in love” with you. Its common knowledge amongst us men, the moment you “open up” to a woman (black) chances are, whatever image or pedestal she had you on immediately becomes ground floor.

  10. says

    For more on raising boys to value (or not value) love or intimacy, take a look at Raising Cain. It’s by two white men, published in 1999 and a hugely influential book in the world of parenting lit.

    There are many first-person (and second-hand) accounts of what men do to each other (and what women do to men) to — often literally — beat the vulnerability right out of boys.

    No way to get free of patriarchy without letting boys be gentle, too.

    Thanks as ever for putting your thoughts down for us. xx

  11. john says

    @ Esbee I agree with some of the notions you are making. When I started dealing with black women even as a teenager it was looked at as being weak to show emotion. It was also looked at as being weak to show a lady that you were a good guy! I don’t know how many black women tossed me aside because I was too nice. It also followed me into adulthood. With my wife I think some of the things she used to do were because of the fact that she perceived me as this “good guy” so no matter what she did I would forgive her. While dealing with other women I have been told that I was too nice and that if the yound lady wanted to she could have gotten anything she wanted from me. That took me by suprise that someone would say that especially being that I put her in the role of the vunerable one. She was the recent divorcee, she was now a single parent but yet in still she saw me as prey! In another situation I was told by the women she didn’t want any feelings in the relationship so even though I was really feeling her I couldnt let her know. I had to keep it bottled up and basically make sure that I showed the minimum amount of emotion toward her for fear or being kicked out of her life and bed. But now I think all those esperiences have had a long time affect on me being that how do I not love but show emotion to someone that I love if since forever it was not allowed. I think that most black men have just built up walls that we don’t get hurt by women but especially black women. therefore, I think alot of black men refer to black women as bitches and hoes because that display of emotion has gotten them actually more action than being kind, vunerable and understanding. As a man why trade that if the other as harmful as it maybe still gets me the award that I seek!

  12. john says

    Now before anyone says that I am condoning the way black women are treated in music, in the media, or in our own socities I am not. What I am saying is most men are not going to change the way they are emotionally to accomadate one woman. They are going to go by what they perceive the standard to be. Thay could have something to do with what demographic their in. Who they are being raised and taught by and so on. I feel that there is a much needed rejuvenation on black relationships as a whole, black love included.

  13. john says

    I got all off of the topic of domination by the black male. I see that alot on this site, is there a reason why? Anywho, I don’t think that men have a need to rule over a woman I think that boys do! If a man is comfortable in his skin of who he is and knows his place in the relationship, in society and in GODs plan than he has no need to dominate any woman. I think that the male should take the lead role in the relationship though but that’s not saying the woman has no say in the direction that their union goes, that’s that not saying that her opinions and worries come second hand. But I saw on Grey Anatomy the other a guy started shooting in a restraunt and her boyfriend ducked behing her and she got shot in the arm. LOl well he was telling her that it was just a one time thing and that if the situation comes up again he’ll jump in front of her if need be.( for most of the episode she was talking about leaving him because he was a coward) well the gunman came to the hospital to kill the guy he intended to kill and guess what he did duck behind his girlfriend! She dumped him! I think this is the same outlook that most women have for men no woman that I’ve came across regardless wants a weak man. But how do you define the rules or lines of domination and taking on the male role at times?

  14. john says

    @ admin I was just on another site and it seems that there is a lot of hoopla being made that there isnt any black women on his show. If it is in fact black women who are making all the hoopla why care? This is the same thing that I seen in black women time and time again the guy that doesnt want them is the one they pay the most attention to the one they want and the one they let violate them. Then they put their hurt and baggage off on the good guy which over time becomes in some instances the very guy that we started off the cycle with. why is that?

  15. Renina says


    Your comments were really personal and I appreciate your honesty, a lot of other blogs talk about the same she we talk about but there is a level of trust and vulnerability here that I am proud that you are participating in, and that I am proud that I/we have built. Can I use your comments for a post?

    You hit the nail on the idea head with this comments, but for your patriarcal assed “men lead in a relationship” shit because guess what, who leads in relationship between two women and two men? Luls. #ummhmm.


  16. john says

    lol in all honesty from what I see it’s the person who takes on the masculine role!. When I see two women together its always the one who embraces the masculine qualities? Thats the same when it is two men. my wife was friend with these two gay guys and the guy that had more of the masculine qualities ran the relationship! And you could see it by their interactions with each other. But its seems rather it be women or men the role of masculinity has to be assumed why do you think that is? Or do you even think that is correct logic?

  17. says

    As I was reading this, my mind brought up images of the first time I saw my ex cry and my responses to it. I remember all I wanted to do was nurture him, take the pain away, let him know that he was surrounded by love, and that it will be okay.

    I also asked myself the same question you posed about how often do we create an environment (space) for this to happen? Not often enough. I now understand that my responses to “him” (future significant others) will either perpetuate “the manning up” mentality or contribute to a positive emotional relationship with himself.

    Enlightened by your piece sis.

  18. says

    @renina: the Butch-er one…lol.

    You do know that even in same sex r/ships you still got those who are still gonna be the more ‘masculine’ one right? You ain’t gon’ have two captains on one ship.

    I’m outta here.

  19. Renina says


    4 questions.

    What does it mean to be the more masculine one?

    What does masculinity mean?

    Does the more masculine one have the right to dominate?



  20. says

    Here’s my attempt:

    1. By societal definition/construct, whoever appears to be “stronger” “who takes charge” “who makes decisions for or on behalf of both parties” “the least effeminate”

    2. See above

    3. No, but we’ve got to look at the process of “domination.” How is power shared? What is power in a r/ship anyway? Is it just one person “dominating” or someone else wanting to be “dominated”

    4. See above.