Women now earn the majority of college degrees. Men play video games. Women thrive in information-age jobs. Men go to prison. Women hold families together. Men watch football.
This was the opening synopsis of a recent Slate/Intelligence Squared debate called “Are Men Finished?” Despite its overtly sexist overtones, the debate was based off of real trends in our society. For instance, it’s true that women are earning more college degrees, while men are feeling increasingly isolated from the workforce.
But there is also a subtle undercurrent of men from all walks of life pushing back against these stereotypes. Sometimes it is more obvious, sometimes it happens in the every day conversations between guys. But it is there. Not all men are OK with being “finished.”
A few weeks ago, I floated an idea. After having several concurrent conversations with different guys about the state of manhood, I realized that there are men of all walks of life that are discontent. We are discontent with the media narrative about men. We are discontent with the perception of men from Hollywood. But most of all, we are discontent with what those stereotypes are based off of – some truth, some fiction – and what they mean for the future of men, including our sons.
Enter FWD: a conversation with smart men about this very subject. Starting October 12.
Beginning with a small group of guys in the Chicago area, I’m hoping to shake up the current narrative. Like I outlined before, this will function like a cross between the Inklings and a TED conference, where there is a loose structure, but mainly ideas are thrown around to get creative juices flowing. The idea is mainly to get smart guys in the same room together and see what happens.
To me, FWD can fulfill a few needs:
- Connection: Guys get to meet other like-minded guys, and good things happen.
- Conversation: Barbershops and gentlemen’s clubs (the non-sketchy kind) are virtually a thing of the past. Most of the traditional bastions of male-bonding have disappeared. Let’s start another.
- Reverberation: When a group of people passionate about something meet, people take notice. And that changes things.
The nice thing about this new project is that I can honestly say I have no expectations for the outcome. I’m happy with the enthusiasm people have shown for it so far, and I think it will be a great conversation on the 12th. If that’s all it ends up being, I’m OK with that. But I think together we have the potential to make a big splash, and show everyone that, despite the rhetoric, there are men out there who are moving the conversation forward. Let’s aim for that.
Registration is below. See you on the 12th.