There are many commercials and celebrities and "celebrities" as well as books and hashtags and about 73 podcasts and at least one bagel-bites campaign that shows us how we can be better dads, husbands, friends and colleagues. Their business is self-improvement – the individual and collective improvement of the male species – and they sell alertness and intentionality, self-confidence and feminism. And we seem to buy it. We must. An entire economy has emerged to serve and exploit people's desire to be better people: better fathers, brothers, spouses and co-workers.
This is a welcome thing in a sense. This magazine has been looking at improvements for years. But now we have a lot of company. The scale of this economy ̵
This summer, for several months, I studied the brighter lights and darker shadows of the Manconomy, and it turned out that these commercials and celebrities and "celebrities" et al. Not only help us find a better version of us when it comes to money. They ask the right questions, trigger the right conversations and start the right fights. Maybe they'll save us all from ourselves.
It used to be so easy to be a man, thousands of years of tradition and legacy and deeply rooted patriarchy had clearly outlined the expected roles and characteristics of real men: robust, heterosexual, independent providers who put food on the table and never asked for help, the vulnerability was weak and feminine, men dominated and women were submissive, heroes were military generals, cowboys and Secret agents: John Wayne and James Bond made everything look so simple.
Masculinity today is decidedly more complex in both perception and exercise, with the #Metoo movement giving women an unprecedented opportunity to hold male offenders and harassers to justice which, in turn, helped normalize conversations about consent and assault, aggression and power wiping out traditional gender norms in conjunction with hard-won advances for the LGBTQ + community, is radically changing sexual policy. All of these changes have caused confusion among many men about their role at work, at home and in society in general. The advantage of social progress is the liberation from the previous constraints of what we considered a man. But there is uncertainty associated with this freedom: we do not know what to do now. We do not know who we should be.
This is where the Manconomy comes in. Podcasts quickly become a hotbed for big ideas and (serious) long discussions about what it means to be a man. Dax Shepard and David Harbor, in a series of Armchair Expert Mark Pagán, deepen their respective struggles with alcoholism and bring up his joke on the subject of male financial insecurities Other Men Need Help . Aymann Ismail reveals the struggles Asian men face against tinder in Man Up and Bill Delvaux on the development of a "new male identity in Christ" for Heroic: Conversations on Surprising Manhood . Overall, these podcasts have collected millions of streams. All of this happens, of course, between advertising mattresses and webdomains and menus.
Joe Rogan rises in the midst of all Woke-Bro podcasts. Since 2009, there have been more than 1,300 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience and in 2017 as well as 2018, it was the second most downloaded show by Apple Podcasts, with more than 6 million subscribers recorded on its YouTube channel. The show's success with its (mostly male) audience is based on Rogan's willingness to engage with (mostly male) guests, covering the ideological spectrum of controversial rights such as Ben Shapiro, Andy Ngo and Alex Jones, to more advanced types like Rogan Charlamagne, the god, Judd Apatow, and Bernie Sanders exploring their perspectives on a kind of Hodge-Podge roadmap navigating masculinity.
Rogan and his podcasting cohort are our closest contact to Manconomy. But beyond the reach of our iPhones, there are real experts and "experts" for masculinity and gender who first write some blog posts before turning a TED talk, signing a book contract and then hiring companies and colleges to listen to their game. Regardless of your budget, you can find a man who can hold a keynote or breakout sessions, or join a panel or read from his book – provided you have the prerequisites to cover meals and accommodation. Some of these speakers (like Tim Mousseau and Jeff Perera) charge only a few thousand dollars for their services. Big names like Jordan Peterson, however, have booking agents who are not supposed to consider bidding below $ 100,000.
What are some of these events? They're probably similar to the L63 lecture hall at John Jay College, New York, where I sat in the far right corner this summer and was set up by a goat-bearded man in the front of the room.
"Repeat after me: we promote a healthy manhood!" The man bellowed, a broad grin spreading across his face. I was on "Multicultural Maleness," a free workshop organized by A Call to Men, an organization whose mission is to improve the "next generation of masculinity." Like the ManKind project and evryman and meetup groups, A Call to Men is just one of many events, men's groups, and wellness retreats with a similar mission to help us reckon with our masculinity. Often for a registration fee.
The crowd of 200 around me was a mix of older academic types, young professionals, and students, all of whom had signed up for seminars called "Redefine Masculinity: A New Lexicon." The majority of participants were colored, and although the audience was mostly male, there were many women in the lecture hall. One of these women was Katie, who works on Long Island for a domestic violence shelter. When I asked Katie what led her to the event, she said to me, "It's about finding the right language, because masculinity is such a sensitive issue for so many people."
We stood up while another man from our seats got his iPhone ready to stick to our common slogan for social media. "We promote a healthy manhood!"