The Mandate Letter, by Jason Rogers, focuses on the evolving state of masculinity. Thanks for being here. If you were forwarded this email, get your own:
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First of all, we had an uptick in subscribers over the last week, so welcome to the 27 of you (Will, Christian, Dave, Chad, Marian, just to name a few!) that have just hopped on board!
This week’s Mandate Letter is going to be a short one. But I do have something important that I’d like to share. Last week, Men’s Health published an article that I wrote about men’s groups on Clubhouse (the popular audio-only social media app). But before I send you off to check out the piece (if you’re so inclined), I’d like to set the stage.
If you read the Mandate Letter I wrote about the ManKind Project, then you’ll know that that I’m generally a fan of men’s groups. I feel they are important because they create safe spaces for men to be seen and heard by each other — two essential ingredients that contribute to emotional growth.
Of course, they are not without their shortcomings. Barrett Swanson wrote beautifully for Harper’s magazine about Evryman’s failure to address the structural problems contributing to male loneliness. And when you watch promo videos for the retreats on offer by various men’s work organizations (e.g., this one with Sacred Sons), you quickly realize that cultural appropriation abounds. (The ManKind Project has issues with this too).
Still, they are an important instrument of change because they help bring guys together in a constructive context where they are focused specifically on reconnecting with the difficult feelings and experiences from which they’ve disassociated themselves.
Late last year, I discovered that men’s groups were popping up on Clubhouse as the app took off in popularity. And the notion of a men’s group in my pocket, accessible at the ready, whenever I needed, was tremendously exciting.
However, what I experienced in many of those groups didn’t feel quite right. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was just a nagging sense of disquiet. Men’s groups only work when there’s full trust between the participants involved—when everyone’s cards are face-up on the table.
However, as I moved through these spaces on Clubhouse, I finally put my finger on the question that was scratching beneath the surface: what’s for free and what’s for sale?
(Also, it appears that Men’s Health has recently changed its paywall settings, so if you can’t access the article through the link above, try this one. If that doesn’t work, send me a note by replying to this email!).
Department of Links
The Millennial Vernacular of Getting Swole — I absolutely loved this piece by Emily Contois about the media’s influence on the ideal male body. It’s exhaustively researched and a delight to read. Talk about media IQ! She’s also the author of Diners, Dudes & Diets, a book about the relationship between food and masculine identity, and I’m hoping to interview her — Culture Study
Floyd Mayweather Fights Logan Paul — If you recall the Mandate Letter I wrote last year about the rising trend of Youtuber Boxers, then you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m not crazy about the fact that Logan Paul is back at it again. Over the weekend, he fought Floyd Mayweather (one of the most celebrated boxers in history) at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The fight was an exhibition match rather than a pro match, so I can’t level my chief complaint from my previous article (the Paul brothers have previously fought as professionals, which can lead to dangerous outcomes). However, I thought the NY Times described it well in calling it “a moneymaking spectacle pandering to the general public." — NY Times
How to Tell Dad You Care — I wrote a little something about Dads for the fine folks at Man Enough (the positive masculinity movement started by Justin Baldoni) — Man Enough
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