Introducing: The Mandate Book Club
Fill your brain with thought-provoking writing about men and masculinities
The Mandate Letter, by Jason Rogers, focuses on the evolving state of men and masculinities. Thanks for being here. If you were forwarded this email, get your own:
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Many of you may be familiar with the article I wrote last year about starting a romance book club for men. My small group of guys still meets every six weeks or so, and I have to say it’s been one of the most fun and enriching experiences that I’ve done in the past few years.
In the same spirit, I’m excited to announce the formation of the Mandate Book Club. Often, when I’m writing the Mandate Letter, I am taking personal learnings and sharing them out loud. And I’d like to take that a step further by convening conversations about men and masculinities through important authors’ culture-shaping work.
The format will be pretty straightforward. I’ll pick a new book every 4-6 weeks, set a date/s, and offer some cues/questions to think about ahead of time. Then, we’ll get together on a Zoom to discuss, debate, and generally hang out.
We’ll primarily read work that offers constructive views on the topic. However, we’ll occasionally dig into more controversial books to understand how they help frame the context around modern masculinities.
To give you a sense of the range, here are a few examples of the types of books we might read.
The Will to Change | bell hooks: The oft-cited book offers seminal thinking on how the patriarchy causes men to cleave off their emotional selves. I’ve read this one before, but it’s one that always is worth revisiting. (non-fiction)
The Atmostperians | Alex McElroy: This satirical novel focuses on a cult designed to reform problematic men. In the book, the author describes an epidemic of “man hordes,” a obvious synecdoche for the many issues with masculinities today. (fiction)
The Myth of Male Power | Warren Farrell: This book is a sort of ur-text for the Men’s Rights Activists. We would read this work with a critical eye to understand how the movement has evolved from a (perhaps) well-meaning set of arguments to a misogynist, anti-feminist group. (non-fiction)
If you’re interested in joining or finding out more, click the button below and drop your name and email into the Google form. I’ll be in touch in a week or two!
Department of Links
📚 Notes on an Apocalypse — I just finished this superbly written book of essays by the Irish writer, Mark O'Connell. In the book (among other activities), he travels to New Zealand to better understand why billionaires like Peter Thiel are building bunkers and attends a conference in Pasadena dedicated to establishing a second colony on Mars. Both of those essays peel the skin back on a sort of fragile masculinity. Concerning the Mars efforts, O’Connell writes, “There is something fundamentally male about the narrative of exit, of escape as a means toward the nobility of self-determination. The cultural critic Sarah Sharma argued for an understanding of exit as ‘an exercise of patriarchal privilege that occurs at the expense of cultivating and sustaining a collective autonomy.’ It's a force that she places in opposition to the more traditionally maternal value of care.” — Goodreads
🎙 Hey, Human Podcast — I had a great time chatting with Susan Ruth on her podcast about everything from the intricacies of fencing to the world of men and masculinities. It’s a long chat, but tune in if you’re interested! — Spotify | Apple Podcasts
🎙 Breaking the Boy Code Podcast — Ok, this is turning into a little bit of a podcast fest, but here is another recent interview I did with Jonathon Reed of Next Gen Men. We talk about a young rock climber who is just starting to think about pressure and the importance of positive thinking in competition — Spotify | Apple Podcasts