What is patriarchy according to hooks

Phil 1

Midterm 2

30 points plus up to 5 points of extra credit

Maximum 6 pages


DUE Wednesday April 2nd at the outset of class.


1.  Longish, Easier Essay: œI don’t have anyone but you. (10 points)


Iron Man:  49:00 “ 52:37 and 1:04:53 “ 1:05:31

Fight Club:  10:05 “ 11:20 and 25:47 “ 29:08 and 39:25 “ 40:29


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If you were to watch these clips with bell hooks, she would likely look at you and say that when we talk about patriarchy almost everyone focuses on how negatively it affects the lives of women.  What few do is to think about how patriarchy harms the very people who supposedly benefit from it: men and boys.


In short, your job here is to explain why these movie clips would elicit this response from bell hooks. You can either write a freeform essay now or construct an essay by responding to the following questions:


  1. What is patriarchy according to hooks?  And how does she distinguish patriarchy itself from what she calls ˜psychological patriarchy?’
  2. By reference to the Will to Change, Fight Club, and the sections of Iron Man we watched in class, what benefits is patriarchy supposed to bring to males in a society like our own?
  3. In what ways do Tony Stark and the Narrator enact patriarchal ways of living in the world?
  4. How does patriarchy let Tony Stark and the Narrator down? That is, what price do they pay as members of a patriarchal society who have been socialized according to its specific ideological ideals?



2.  Short Essay:  œSport fucking (10 points)


Fight Club:  47:18 “ 54:50

Iron Man:  4:14 “ 9:05 and 12:24 “ 16:22


Both Iron Man and Fight Club fetishize patriarchy and males who enact patriarchal modes of living and relating to others.  One might suspect that a feminist like bell hooks would be loudly critical of both films.  In fact, she is critical of one and supportive of the other.  No doubt this has something to do with the different ways the ˜mythological’ content of the two films is motivated.


  1. In your own words, explain the relationship between the literal and mythological chains of signification.  (HINT: I am not asking you to tell me what each chain is; I am asking you to clarify the relationship between the two by discussing both)
  2. Take a moment to explain the difference between intentional and unintentional ˜mythological’ meaning.  Then, be creative.  Give one example of each (they cannot be from our class. Find your own.)
  3. Imagine that you are bell hooks.  From her perspective, which film is an example of intentional and which is an example of unintentional? And Why?


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3.  Long Essay:  œBetter than I’ve ever been in my whole life. (10 points)


Fight Club:  19:12 “ 21:54; 1:07:37 “ 1:09:10, and 1:19:00 “ 1:19:34


While talking with Tyler Durden about all that he has lost in the explosion that destroyed his apartment, The Narrator says œI had it all: a stereo that was very decent, a wardrobe that was getting very respectable.  I was close to being complete.  Even so, he can’t sleep, he is depressed, and he feels like a living dead man.  The Narrator’s prayer for a plane crash or a mid-air collision is never answered, but after meeting Tyler it no longer matters.  Together with his new friend, the narrator creates a space within which there are countless collisions and numerous crashes.  Each weekend, fists collide with flesh, heads collide with floors, and bodies crash to the ground.  This space is called Fight Club.  His fantasy has become a reality.  He, Bob, and the ever-growing number of Fight Club members feel that they are œbetter than [they’ve] ever been in [their] whole live[s].


  1. By reference to Jung’s psychology and hooks’ The Will to Change, explain why the members of Fight Club feel(hint!) they are the best they have ever been in their whole lives.
  2. Then, by reference to Jung’s approach to dream analysis, explain why we Americans living in the USA at this time in its history should concern ourselves with a film like Fight Club.  If this second task is too vague then these questions may help:  Why study this particular movie? What might this ˜dream’ called Fight Club enable us to see about ourselves?  What insight might it offer into our collective symptoms and complexes? How might it help us understand the root of these symptoms and the nature of our complexes?  How might it help us work out our complexes and improve ourselves, our interpersonal relationships, and our communities?


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