The newsletter to fuel — and thrill — your mind. Read for deep dives into the unmissable ideas and topics shaping our world.
Aug 19, 2021
It’s an interesting time to be a man. Expectations are changing. Bad actors are being held accountable for their toxic behavior. Powerful men are recognizing that they can’t always get away with unacceptable actions. “In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week, as he announced his resignation after a probe commissioned by the state attorney general concluded that he had sexually harassed 11 women. “There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate.”
So how do we teach the next generation of boys to be better stewards of the changing times? From toxic masculinity to sexual fluidity, today’s Daily Dose explores the future of manhood, introducing you to the societal shifts and faces of change redefining the male identity.
Hush. Don’t talk about it. That’s long been one of the trademarks of toxic masculinity when it comes to a subject that’s often swept under the carpet across the world: male victims of sexual violence. Nearly a quarter of American men experience contact sexual violence during their lifetime. And 1 in 4 men who are victims of rape or attempted rape first experience it when they’re between the ages of 11 and 17. Yet while sex crimes against women go underreported, men are even less likely to speak up about sexual violence they’ve faced, according to the World Health Organization.
2 - Mental Health Pandemic
But it isn’t just sexual violence. Some 6 million American men battle depression every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But they’re much less likely to seek help compared to women. Instead, men struggling with mental health often try to self-medicate, turning to drugs and alcohol to hide their problems. But the problems don’t go away. Deaths from suicide in the U.S. are four times higher for men compared to women.
3 - The Underlying Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored how deep-seated gender identities can hurt not just individuals who subscribe to them but entire societies. Multiple studies have shown that men are less likely to wear protective masks or to maintain social distancing compared to women. In Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak and in Mexico City during the H1N1 crisis, similar scenarios were observed. To some, it’s just not cool. To others, any sign of vulnerability runs counter to their idea of masculinity. Yet having good friends can help counteract toxic masculinity, a recent Australian study suggests. It found a direct correlation between decreased positive support from friends and traits that foster bullying and misogynistic and homophobic behaviors.
Stylish enough for the Hollywood elite and comfy enough for Olympic athletes, this shoe brand has become a favorite of celebrities. So isn't it time you got on the Cariuma train? Stay ahead of the curve and get $15 off a pair of these sustainable kicks using code OZY15.
A romance book club . . . for men? That’s what former Olympic fencer Jason Rogers started in 2019 after getting inspired by Lyssa Kay Adams’ novelThe Bromance Book Club. The idea is to get men together, discussing romance, love, intimacy — subjects that have traditionally been seen as feminine — through books. “It’s an interesting mechanism to get guys to question their ideas and perceptions of gender norms, especially gender norms in relationships,” Rogers tells OZY. “It has served as a bridge to get us into really important discussions about love, sex and intimacy that guys aren’t really having.” It’s the opposite of locker room talk. And it’s about time.
2 - William Jackson Harper
Emerging faces in Hollywood are doing their part to change societal assumptions of masculinity. Harper, best known as Chidi in the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom The Good Place, takes the stereotype of a male lead and rips it apart in his role as an indecisive philosophy professor. “I think realizing that there are certain ideas of Blackness and certain ideas of maleness that sort of pervade a lot of art and media, I like to subvert that when I can,” Harper told OZY on The Carlos Watson Show.
The Nigerian designer is defying his conservative country’s deep-rooted traditional views of masculinity with a gender-fluid clothing brand that has become wildly popular — in a nation where same-sex marriages are banned and gay groups are criminalized. Orange Culture deliberately embraces styles and fabrics perceived as effeminate to challenge mainstream notions of what men should wear.
What about trans men? As he started pumping his body with testosterone in 2010, Thomas Page McBee knew he wasn’t a woman, and transitioning to a man was something he had to do. But he was scared: He associated men with violence, and that’s not what he wanted to become. More than a decade later, McBee is a leading trans voice using that unique perspective of transitioning to not just spotlight toxic masculinity but to address it with sensitivity. He has even been in a boxing match at New York’s Madison Square Garden in a bid to understand the need for violence that many men feel. It’s an unconventional approach. Maybe that’s what we need.
Can changing the way we speak alter the gender stereotypes we otherwise grow up with? Yes, suggests a growing slate of research. According to a 2011 study, societies with genderless languages — such as Finnish, Chinese and the Bantu language system of Africa — have less gender inequality than countries with languages in which gender is central. That’s why Spain’s socialist government has proposed rewriting its constitution in gender-neutral language, while Argentina’s Parliament is debating whether to make such words mandatory for its proceedings. But it’s a divisive subject, with similar initiatives in France and Germany facing pushback.
From the American Psychological Association through powerful public service videos to the emergence of academic programs focused on masculinity studies, there’s a growing movement working to destigmatize the need for mental health care among men . . . and the need to cry. While the taboos around gender and mental health are problematic in the U.S., they’re even more entrenched in several other parts of the world, including the Middle East and South Asia. There is a good reason for those stigmas to be torn apart: They’re unhealthy. Research has shown a direct correlation between repressive coping mechanisms like holding back tears and cardiovascular diseases.
3 - And Bathe
It’s also about having fun while breaking down stereotypes. That’s what a growing number of groups are doing, reimagining activities traditionally considered feminine. Take Men Who Take Baths, a group founded in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement. It facilitates conversations on how to become better men . . . through interviews conducted in bathtubs.
4 - Men Teaching Men
If the examples of Jason Rogers, Adebayo Oke-Lawal, Thomas Page McBee and William Jackson Harper tell us anything, it’s that men need to — and can — lead the way in redefining masculinity. Men need to rethink what to teach boys moving forward. Thankfully, a growing number of organizations, initiatives and programs — including at universities — are trying to help men do just that through peer-to-peer learning.
5 - Sexing It Up
If the problem is the misguided notion that seeking mental health care is weak, effeminate and unattractive to an intimate partner, why not flip that script? From TikToks to women publicly speaking up about how they’ll only date men who seek self-help and therapy when needed, the conversation is changing.
You may know Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette in Hamilton, for his acting work in Blindspotting or Soul or his rapping or writing careers. Today, this multi-talented artist joins The Carlos Watson Show to share how his “reckless commitment” to blending these skills together led to the illustrious career he now has, and opens up about growing up in San Francisco’s East Bay as the child of a Jewish mother and Black father. Plus, he reveals how his desire to stand near his partner, Emmy, shaped the Hamilton staging forever. Don’t miss it!
OZY is a diverse, global and forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “the New and the Next.” OZY creates space for fresh perspectives and offers new takes on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment.