Throughout history, but also in the last hundred years, and back in 2013, and definitely since the 2016 campaign cycle, but also very much so in the last few weeks, we have all come to realize that there is a crisis in masculinity as we know it.
Whether it’s body image, mental health, the pressure to display aggression outwardly, or the continued subjection of women to sexual violence and other forms of abuse in all settings, it’s clear men have some shit to work out. Now, a talk show just for men is aiming to get the conversation started. And yes, Matt McGorry is involved.
Jane the Virgin’s Justin Baldoni is producing and hosting Man Enough, a weekly roundtable discussion web series. In it, he invites other woke men to “have deep (and sometimes uncomfortable) conversations about what it means to be a man today.” It’s set to launch November 28 at wearemanenough.com, and upcoming panelists include Javier Muñoz (of Hamilton fame), Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef, spoken word poet Prince Ea, and trans activist (and the first trans Men’s Health cover star) Aydian Dowling. Oh, and McGorry and...Derek Hough from Dancing with the Stars.
It’s insane that the vast majority of media, which is dominated by men, is so fucked up that men have to take extra space to get a point across. I mean, maybe this vast majority of media wouldn’t have such rigid and harmful depictions of masculinity (which are often predicated on misogynist depictions of femininity) if there were more women and LGBTQ people had a platform on which to speak out and were in more positions of power. Just saying!
While I do think that conversations about masculinity that exclude women (on which a lot of masculinity is imposed!) are incomplete, the range of voices and topics Baldoni is including do have the potential to be much more nuanced than, say, The Man Show.
I have a couple questions about Baldoni’s explanation of the show, however.
Via Hollywood Reporter:
“We have all the shows in the world that empower women to talk about these things – which they should exist by the way because, let’s be honest, women need an outlet – but men don’t talk,” he says.
All the shows in the world? Yes, there are a number of talk shows hosted by women that delve into women’s issues, but there isn’t exactly a dedicated space for women to discuss gender and feminism. There are spaces geared toward women as consumers of pop culture, general politics, and products—and men end up taking space on those shows anyway.
“Even the idea of this show made men scoff, like, ‘Oh, who’s going to watch men talking to each other? That’s how rare this is. This is not The View for men. This is a conversation show. This is a show where men create a comfortable space for each other to go deep and have a conversation and we hope that this stuff happens in real life too.”
Uh, The View is also a conversation show. It, like Man Enough, brings together women of different backgrounds to discuss their experiences. But Baldoni is right—The View does fall flat because it relies on the conflict of diametrically opposed views with little regard for the impact of putting opinions like “it’s totally chill for a bakery to refuse service to lesbians” or “is Bill Cosby really that bad?” on the airwaves. Despite what Baldoni claims, there isn’t really an opportunity for women to have more nuanced conversations about the state of femininity or womanhood on television right now either.
With a well-rounded cast of panelists, Man Enough certainly does have the potential to give us the kind of commentary necessary to begin rethinking how we conceive of masculinity. I just wish there was a show for women like that.