This was supposed to be a one-off piece about masculinity; a piece in response to the controversial Gillette ad that ran online a few weeks back and caused a digital uproar among a lot of men, conservative news outlets (here’s looking at you Fox News) and even some women.
Then, it occurred to me. This is not a topic that can be contained in just one piece. Nor, should it be. The topic of masculinity is something so big and so important, that it deserves much more. And so, this column was born
Since the Gillette ad’s premiere, a man named Gary Martin opened fire in a factory in Aurora, Illinois, murdering five people and wounding six, as a result of being fired. And singer/songwriter Ryan Adams was accused by seven women of sexual misconduct and emotionally-manipulative behavior in a February 13 New York Times piece. So, once again the news cycle is focusing on the dangers of toxic masculinity, which is a topic that should be discussed. But as news cycles do, something else will happen and the focus will shift to another, more pressing matter at the moment. Until another mass shooting or story of sexual abuse comes up.
But here’s the thing. There’s so much more to be said. And we’re still not talking about masculinity the way we should be.
That’s why I’m starting this column.
It’s called, The Man Project
This isn’t a column about the dangers of toxic masculinity, though I’ll write about that. This is a column about what it means to be a man in 2019 – the challenges, the problems, the beauty of it. It’ll be about having conversations, about sharing feelings, about the complexities of manhood. Sometimes, I’ll focus on my own stories of navigating the sometimes treacherous road of being a man in the age of Trump. Others, I’ll talk with experts about different facets of masculinity. I’ll also have conversations with regular men and women who have their own stories to share.
But the point of this is to keep the conversation going for everyone—men, women, and even kids. The spectrum of topics I’ll cover will be wide and far-reaching, from gender identity to pop culture to politics to race and religion.
And to be honest, this scares me to death. I’m frightened because it’ll force me to write about my own shortcomings for all to see. But this is also exciting because I’ll get the chance to have important conversations with all sorts of folks from different backgrounds and experiences. And this exploration allows me to learn and grow as a person. But most of all, I have the chance to set an example for my own two young sons to see.
Because it’s at the 1:28-mark in the Gillette commercial that I really felt the impact of the ad’s message. I began to feel my eyes well up with tears. Because for me, the message Gillette attempts to communicate went from being a message for all of the other men out there to a message meant directly for me. It was the part when the father stepped in to help the boy being chased by bullies while his son stood from afar watching. The part where the narrator says, “Because the boys watching today, will be the men of tomorrow.” That’s where it got me.
Because as a father, I want to better myself, not just for me, but for my wife, so I can be a better husband to her. And for my sons as well, so they can be the best men they can be.
If you want to chat with me about the project or have an interesting story, hit me up on Twitter @chachimoss
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