Guys, I get it. I really do.
You’ve been taught all your life to avoid “girly” things. People have told you to be “be a man,” and possibly made fun of you for doing something that appears feminine. You’ve been given an innate fear of weakness, beauty, and other qualities that have somehow become only associated with the fairer sex.
Maybe this led you to play a sport you didn’t really care about. Or pretend to like an action movie you thought was actually poorly produced. Or hide your love of things like poetry, or the “Real Housewives of Orange County.”
You’ve gravitated towards things like man aisles in grocery stores, or sites like The Art of Manliness, because they’ve supposedly made it easy to tell what a real man does – to differentiate yourself from feminine things. New shows like Man Up and Last Man Standing appeal to you for the same reasons.
Enter the new site Gentlemint, which does the same thing online. You’ve heard about Pinterest, the wildly popular online pinboard where people can “pin” images and videos to curated boards for everyone to see your interests. But you’ve also heard that Pinterest is dominated by women, so you’ve hesitated. And now Gentlemint has given you an option that will clearly say, “I’m a man!” Everyone wins, right?
Here’s why I’m going to advocate that you avoid things like Gentlemint. The first reason – the most important reason – is that those assholes in high school (who, let’s face it, may have included your own father) who advocated for you to “be a man” were telling you that because of their own insecurities. The anti-femininity (and thinly-veiled homophobia) that is rampant in locker rooms and around dinner tables in America is a moral failing that not enough parents – not enough fathers – have the courage to address.
We need to be better than this. Because right now, we’re intentionally creating intellectual and cultural ghettos from which men are incapable of escaping. We’re ceding the marketplace of ideas and innovation to women out of a fear of becoming like them – no, out of a fear that other men will perceive that we’ve become like them. And in the process, we’re making the very idea of men a caricature that no one can take seriously.
This is a small window into why some are declaring the end of men. The ghettos we’re creating extend beyond television and websites – they include professional tracks and education. (“You want to be a nurse? That’s a girls job!”) Fear is leading men to a permanent place of second-class citizenship. Sure, we’re not there yet. But I for one don’t want to see my son growing up in a world of shrinking opportunities for men created by our imaginations.
This is one of the reasons why I created FWD – I want to get the marketplace of ideas back. I want to make it OK for men to think big again. And I hope you’ll join me.