I love being a man! Seriously. I do! And I would love other men to love being men. Yet, I am sensing my love for being a man is under attack. I should be a man based on how women see men. I am reading a great book THE BOY CRISIS by Dr. Warren Farrell. I cannot recommend it enough! The thesis of the book is: WHEN ONE GENDER WINS, BOTH GENDERS LOSE. I love it because IT IS TRUE! And, I am attempting to find a path to get a man to understand being a man is as good as a woman being a woman. In the end, you (man or woman) need to be comfortable with who you are.
I had a very good male friend send me this ted talk presented by an actor I don’t know: JUSTIN BALDONI. Please watch his TED TALK. It is very well done, and he makes some strong points AND he also makes some points that I disagree with.
Mr. Baldoni “confesses” he was “pretending to be strong when I felt weak, confident when I felt insecure and tough when really I was hurting.” Interesting. I wonder if Mr. Baldoni is challenged by Imposters Syndrome. I certainly am challenged by the Imposters Syndrome Dr. Valerie young, an expert on the Imposters Syndrome said we should be confident even when we are not 100% competent. I do believe a man should have an aura of strength, confidence, and toughness. When I see a man crying at a time when the nation / society needs to have a man show strength, confidence, courage … there is a right thing at the right time. Example of right thing / wrong time was watching on CNN a former FBI Agent Phil Mudd breakdown crying the day following the awful shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. At that time, and again this is a controversial opinion (Mr. Baldoni has opinions, as well), we needed to see a man be strong and crying at that time is not a sign of strength. Many people would have said how wonderful it was seeing a female be so strong by NOT CRYING.
Also, I don’t see me displaying strength, confidence, and toughness as some that is “wrong.” By using the word “pretend,” Mr. Baldoni “infers” that displaying strength, confidence, and toughness are “wrong.” I agree with Mr. Baldoni, displaying strength, confidence and toughness is “exhausting.” Yet, they are parts of the role of being a man. I bet there are some “attributes” that women have that are “exhausting.”
“Girls are weak, and boys are strong.” Yes. In some areas, girls are strong, and boys are weak. We (adults / parents / role models) need to support that the differences that women and men have are strengths. A women’s strength can be a man’s weakness. It bothers me that Mr. Baldoni will not promote men and women have individual / unique strengths. Mr. Baldoni gets very close to saying, “Men and women are the same.” No. Men and women are different, and those differences are okay.
And here, in the video, we understand the audience Mr. Baldoni is addressing… they “applaud” at … “Well, I (Justin Baldoni) came here today to say, as a man that is wrong, this is toxic, and it has to end.” Wow! It’s wrong to say in some areas girls are stronger than men and in some areas, men are stronger than women. That is now… “wrong.”
Ironically, Mr. Baldoni’s vision of the “perfect world” only involves men being “bad.” They have the “broken definition.” I may be wrong, but I don’t see Mr. Baldoni so far in the video — three-minutes-twelve-seconds — asking women to look at their “broken definition.”
My life was dominated by women. My mom and dad divorced when I was seven. I lived with my mom / two sisters and my aunt. From kindergarten to fifth grade, I had one male teacher. So really the first eleven-to-twelve years, my life was dominated by women. So, when I see Mr. Baldoni talk about balance, I didn’t have balance! My world prism is through female’s eyes. My feminine meter is probably as far over as it can go – hetero – or – homosexual. I was encouraged to show feelings. I was encouraged to be sensitive. Ya know… those “feminine” qualities. And to this day, fifty-years later, I still have women “compliment” me / “praise” me for how I comfortably cry in front of others. Say, “I love you” so often. Whatever you deem to be feminine traits… I own them and I give those traits much credit for the great teacher I am.
When Mr. Baldoni mentions all the “masculine” traits his dad didn’t give him: hunt, fight, “man stuff,” I didn’t have them either. And guess what? I was gonna be DAMNED if my son was going to miss out on hunting, fighting, “man stuff.” So, I took him fishing. We had a next-door neighbor who hunted. Yup! I had our son go with the man to go hunting. I wasn’t into hunting, but yes, I believe it is a good thing for a man to hunt. And if ya don’t…guess what? I DON’T CARE! I do know that hunting is a good skill and frankly, a skill that I don’t want to have. AND ME NOT WANTING TO HUNT shows – get ready – that I am those cool “masculine” traits Mr. Baldoni listed: strong; confident; and, yes… tough. I had the strength, confidence and version of being tough to ask another MAN to take my son hunting. And guess what? OUR SON LOVES TO HUNT! Makes me happy. The first time I shot a gun? When I took our son to a gun range. Yup! I am “that” dad. I do believe in the “stereotype” of men.
One part of the TED TALK that is insulting (possibly one of few), is only men talk about work or sports or politics or women. Really? Mr. Baldoni, in today’s “modern world” women are talking about work or sports (women are winning awards for their ability to write about sports or sports commentating) or politics (you don’t think women were talking about the TRUMP / CLINTON election?!) or MEN. At a recent meeting with my female colleagues, one of them mentioned how “cute” the new colleague (male) is. Again, really? It’s cool / acceptable when a female says about a male colleague, “he’s cute.” But when a male says, “that girl is hot (MAN’S JARGON!)” it’s frowned upon. SIGH… shaking my head.
Love Mr. Baldoni’s idea of a three-days guys trip… and how about the audience response to that wonderful idea… “LAUGHTER.” They laughed at it. In part they laughed because of the photo he showed, but really…there would be much less laughter if a woman had made the similar statement about having a weekend with her female friends and showed a picture of them. Again, it’s not “just the men” who are “bad.” Come one…. NO ONE IS BAD. I digress…
And of course, Mr. Baldoni opening up / showing his vulnerability is getting all the affirming, heartwarming, tons of love, positive messages from: WOMEN! Why? My guess… women identify with all those “positive” traits. Again, I have received many compliments for all the affection / tears I show. Women love it. HOWEVER, I know plenty of women who want men to be “men.” They do want the chivalry. They do want the man to be strong. AND AGAIN, IT’S OKAY FOR MEN TO DEMONSTRATE THOSE TRAITS, AS WELL.
Mr. Baldoni did a social media test and he shows pictures of him working out, meal plans… and what happened? MEN STARTED TO WRITE TO HIM. Why? Because, men wanted to know how to get the results he was getting. Again, MEN AND WOMEN’S bodies are different. And then that “darn” male fitness magazine wanted to give him an honor. Please know… there are those “darn” female fitness magazines, as well. Guess it’s okay to have female fitness magazines. How come those “approved” female fitness magazines didn’t approach Mr. Baldoni? Answer: MEN AND WOMENT ARE DIFFERENT BODY TYPES!
Then, Mr. Baldoni goes for that applause; much as a politician talking to his / her constituents:
Was that really game-changing? Or is it just conforming? And see, that’s the problem. It’s totally cool for men to follow me when I talk about guy stuff and I conform to gender norms. But if I talk about how much I love my wife or my daughter or my 10-day-old son, how I believe that marriage is challenging but beautiful, or how as a man I struggle with body dysmorphia, or I promote gender equality, then only the women show up. Where are the men? So men, men, men, men! And then the crowd goes wild!
Wow… It’s a problem / “game-changing” that men follow a man who is talking about man stuff? Can the same be said about women following a woman who is talking about woman stuff? COME ON, PEOPLE!
So, just in case Mr. Baldoni wants a real answer to his “real” question, “where are the men?” I AM HERE! I will be more than happy to meet you Mr. Baldoni. I will be more than happy to represent the good in men being “men.” Dr. Farrell would be a great guest for you Mr. Baldoni.
Mr. Baldoni asks several questions, such as: Are you brave enough to be vulnerable? To reach out to another many when you need help? To dive headfirst into your shame? Are you strong enough to be sensitive, to cry whether you are hurting or you’re happy, even if it makes you look weak? YES. YES. YES. I don’t give a damn what others are thinking about my masculinity. What I do struggle with is when men are the “ones” who are needing to change, while women are doing just fine.
Women fight for their rights? Really? You (female) are doctors… where are all the male nurses? You (female) are college professors…where are all the male elementary school teachers? There is a White House Counsel for Women and girls… THERE IS NOT A WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR MEN AND BOYS!! Women… you have more options than men do today. Good. Bad. Indifferent… it is a fact.
There is more to Mr. Baldoni’s TED TALK video and again, PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO. It is an important video. I am grateful for the video.
My final take…
Stop allowing people to change you to fit their “norm.” Mr. Baldoni, as great as his message is – THE MILLIONS OF VIEWS IT HAS HAD — it is another “you are wrong men” message. Mr. Baldoni is asking men to fit his and many others’ “norm” for men. Mr. Baldoni, where is your message for women? Remember, many of these men who experience “masculine toxicity” (disdain that phrase as much as “cultural appropriation”) you admonish were around women a majority of their lives. You (men) need to change. No. We are fine. It is okay to be a man who likes to hunt / fight / fart / scratch themselves. I do have one strong agreement with Mr. Baldoni: BE A MAN JONNY! STOP CRYING! PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER is a crap statement. I see how that statement is “bad.” Yet, I also know there is a time and place for most things. Crying at your parents’ funeral – get it. Crying because you didn’t get the job you want – debatable. Crying because you have been diagnosed with Cancer – I got it. Crying because a person is mean to you – debatable.
I love being a man. And guess what, I don’t even know how to change my oil.