On Villains, Heroes, and Why We Talk about Good Men

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About Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project. "I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public and become part of the popular culture for years to come." Connect with her on Twitter.


  1. Julie Gillis says:

    “And because any definition of good is often defined at the moment where there is an issue, a conflict, a moral dilemma, when an important choice has to be made — there will, in fact, be a difference in what is seen as a good man and what is seen as a good women as long as there are gender differences in the social constructs of the day”

    Amazing piece. I’ve said this before Lisa, this is messy work, hard work, but it’s work of great importance. This is a beautiful piece.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks Julie. I also like your view that we “act as candles and mirrors for each other, lighting the way and reflecting back goodness.” Not easy in the least, but we have to try.

      • Julie Gillis says:

        Yes we do. And you clearly do so for me as do the writers here. I’m grateful for that. It’s sappy but it’s true.

  2. Great post, Lisa – I really like your point that it’s in the expectations, and the context, and the fact that society and history have given men and women different issues. For me personally, I’d like to see us deconstruct that into what are *human* issues.

    But, of course, that’s my place – and this, again, is the Good Men Project, not the Good Person Project. I applaud it for that – a place men can, as you say, pick from traditional gender stereotypes if they so choose, but *also*, and maybe more importantly, learn that they don’t have to. They can define good, they can define *themselves* as they want to.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      There are certainly things I like being about a woman that I wouldn’t want to lose — so too should men, imo, be able to keep what they like about being a man. And what’s cool is seeing men describe all shades of they both like and dislike about being a man.

      • See, yeah, but we have to remember that it’s not traits like being strong or a protector that are feminine or masculine. It’s either taking from gender stereotypes or from outside them – which really means breaking them down so we can determine without them. In addition is the point you make: it’s the context and expectations, too. What is difficult about being a man as society explains it to us that we’d change? What would we keep?

  3. DavidByron says:

    While I knew the word “good” was subjective, what I didn’t realize was that the word “men” would be up for debate as well.

    Haha, that’s just what I thought when you were talking about how to define “good”. I thought, well at least they get to define “project”. And I think you have from time to time. It’s the least powerful of the three but it still packs a punch.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Project, to me, always meant this whole big thing that we’re building. The combined effect of over 5,000 stories of or about men.

      It *never* meant to me that *men themselves* were a project, something that had to be changed. What’s weird is that some men see it that way. It’s too bad, really. We really set out to celebrate male goodness, just to do so honestly, forthrightly. Men can be loved and valued just for being men. That is enough. That is good.

      • There is a joke that goes like this:
        Men marry hoping their wives never change,
        Women marry hoping they can change their husbands completely.

        So you may have hit a hidden nerve with the whole project name,because so many gals take on a bad-boy as a project to try to fix him,then complain endlessly to the nice friend zoned male.

        So there is your hidden resentment there,or part of it.
        Glad to be of asistance

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          Thank you freebird. I can see that now.

          Drat, well — don’t you go changing, ok? And thanks for sticking around to help build this thing.

  4. DavidByron says:

    Well now I had to go read the original article over at AVfM. To me the whole thing boils down to AVfM saying “I figured the Good Men thing was about saying what men had to do for women, but now I’m not so sure though still suspicious”. I think one of the most significant lines was therefore,

    in recent times that Ms. Hickey’s “voice” has begun to express a great deal of compassion for men; not for men that are being what women want them to be, but for men as they are outside of their utility; men demonized; men in trouble.

    Go Lisa!!! Yay!
    (although I disagree with the “in recent times” part)

    Now he did say he’d had some harsh words* in the past about “Ms. Hickey” so I guess this is a turn around. That’s really the big take away from this entire piece I think. He’s saying OK maybe I was wrong about you guys — or maybe I was right and you changed.

    The other comment on that quote is that it’s not quite right. It says “not for men that are being what women want them to be” but I think it ought to say, “not ONLY for men that are being what women want them to be”. Sometimes people are square pegs in square holes. Some guys like to dedicate their lives to women (or one woman). You can say well, that’s not the best way, or you can say, that’s not for me, and you certainly ought to say men shouldn’t feel pressured to have to do that, or “well the woman should be dedicated back”, but people are different and some men are going to want that. In fact let’s be honest here. That the option is damn attractive for a lot of men. It is a big part of how this whole mess got this far. Men love doing stuff for women.

    Anyway the article seems like an olive branch, so I’m happy about that.

    (*) “increasingly vocal shill”, was the worst I could find which seems like a rather odd insult for an advertising executive. Isn’t that pretty much a compliment if you are in advertising? Isn’t that kind of the point of that job?

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks David.

      Yes, I did see this as an olive branch, which I was willing to accept with my reply.

      When you talk about how some men like to dedicate themselves to women — well — it’s probably in part for what women give back. When it is an equal partnership, it is truly wonderful. Why would anyone want to go ruin that by declaring war?

      (*) The thing worse that shill that Paul called me was “lying feminist scum”. Which got me riled up for about 5 minutes. But now, when I go do speaking engagements, and talk about what happens when you actually have a voice in the internet, I tell the audience — “Let’s see what happens when you google “Lisa Hickey” + “lying feminist scum”.” And then I actually google it in real time so it shows up on the big screen behind me. And there’s always a gasp, and then I say something like “isn’t that awesome” and the whole room laughs. It’s my way of reclaiming the word for myself, the same way black people took back the n-word and women activists took back the word slut with slutwalk. It’s a great feeling to be empowered by a word that was someone else’s attempt to marginalize you.

      Thanks for all your great comments here.

      • Lisa – some are still trying to figure out is it “Darth Hickey” or “Lisa Skywalker”?

        Just be grateful that no one has as yet decided you are just a drone, and made it C3PHickey or R2-Lisa-D2!

        May the force be with you!P^)

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          Thanks MediaHound! That’s the *really* interesting thing about talking about goodness — how easy it is to be held up as bad — yeah, Darth Vader bad, even — just for having the conversation about goodness. It’s been fascinating real-time looks at social behavior, for sure.

          • Lisa – It is not just the conversation of goodness that is considered to be you meddling with the Dark Side!

            It’s putting the words “Good” and “Men” on the same page! Yikes – the galactic meme is in danger – and no Wookiees or Ewoks in sight to save the day! P^)

            Besides – all of the Star Wars films are gender biased and hopelessly sexist as the majority of charters are presumed male – and some are still wondering how do you sex a Wookie – and for that matter a Droid! P^)

            You need to be cast in the role of “Mon Mothma” – this explains it all – “Why Star Wars is Secretly Terrifying For Women” http://youtu.be/V2uNKqcsAeg P^)

  5. Well, Lisa, i came here from AvFM expecting to be nauseated by another ignorant article. While I’m not attracted to most of the white knight proscriptions on this website I found your above article reasonable and relevant, and I would add more pertinent than Tom’s response. Why more pertinent? Because you address the “women and children first” issue that worries many contemporary males.

    Thanks for attempting to address the hot concerns raised, you did well.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thank you John. I was really aghast when I tried to put myself in the shoes of those men. I really can’t imagine it. That has got to stop.

      Appreciate your stopping by to say so.

  6. Marcus Williams says:

    “Good”, “Men”, and “Project” all seem to have stirred controversy at one time or another. Sure, those are all interesting to dissect, but isn’t about time we blew the lid off the really controversial part: The!

    Why THE Good Men Project? What’s with the definite article? You don’t think there might be other good men projects out there, or other good projects, or man projects, or men projecting good? Sure, you abbreviate it GMP like it’s all humble and indefinite, but anywhere it’s official, you pump it up with “the”. Just look at the banner at the top of the page, where it’s pretentiously spelled in caps. (Smallcaps, sure, but caps.)

    We need some the-controversy, don’t we? We can call it the-gate, and tweet about it. Definitely. (Or indefinitely, depending.)

    (Also, I liked your article, so just put me down for “ditto” for the other nice things people have said.)

    • DavidByron says:

      I guess Sean Parker wasn’t there.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      HAH! Believe it or not Marcus, every time I get to thinking that my job is too important I realize that I am the sole defender of the “The”. Now my cover is blown! I wish I had a better reason for liking it other than the be cause I like it. I like being definitive. I like being proprietary. I like the fact that “the” is a simple word, a word you might find in any story.

      And yet — David — that was one of my favorite lines in the movie. One of the best decisions they made. So now I’m torn…

    • entertaining post, a great read

  7. Its difficult for this publication to use a PHMT argument when the publication has been tirelessly promoting feminist myths about reality that create patriarchy.


    Every time there was a HS article published and supported by the feminists that think this conversation is about them that cast men as human doings, and women as human happened upon’s this social system that feminists call “ze patriarchy” was reinforced.

    Ever time the lie “men can stop rape” ir the feminist depiction of rape culture is repeated here, this social system is reinforced.

  8. Please inform us of anything, one single quality, that you think constitutes a part of being a good man – that does not also apply to being a good woman.
    Maybe I’m being too simplistic but ideally the only one quality that a good man has that a good woman doesn’t is that he is a man and she is not.

    But as has been said with the way “man” and “woman” have been constructed there some traits that some believe only apply to either a good man (like giving one’s life up for a woman) or a good woman (like being a competent parent).

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      What’s funny Danny is that that’s exactly where Tom and I started. We would make a site for men, because men are men and they are not women. It seemed simple enough. Who knew?

  9. Obviously the gendering of abuse and victimhood and presumption of male guilt as per. feminist doctrine was hugely problematic here.

    Moving on to a humanistic, non discriminatory and fact based understanding of abuse and victimhood is massive step forward for the publication.. It was also going to be very problematic if the publication was going to be continuing to publish feminists that were lying about abuse. Legal, social and ideological misandry and male disposibility in the culture are going to have be discussed further down the track as the publishers of the publication become more aware of it.

    I think that because the mens movement is years ahead of feminism and the mainstream on these issues, I suggest that the proprietors start reading the foundational modern mens movement books and writers and academic papers so that mistakes like incorrectly gendering abuse aren’t made in the future.

  10. DavidByron says:

    It;s an interesting (and short) article anyway but I thought this was relevent especially here:

    The general consensus of sociologists is that, whereas a woman’s marital satisfaction is dependent on a combination of economic, emotional and psychological realities, a man’s marital satisfaction is most determined by one factor: how happy his wife is. When she is happy, he is.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    Lisa. I don’t get which men you refer to in your comment of 10:19.


    • DavidByron says:

      I assume it references this quote from the article:

      Take the very example used in Paul’s post — how the Costa Concordia cruise ship tried to evacuate “women and children first”. That has everything to do with a society that perceives there to be differences in men and women – a systematized, ingrained perception that a “good man” has to give his life in a way women are not called upon to do

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Oh, sorry Richard, that wasn’t clear at all. I was referring to the thought of being a man on that cruise ship and being told “women and children first.” Horrifying. It should just never happen.

      So many things went wrong on that ship — things that actually might have gone better if we all stopped looking at such rigid roles. The fact that the crew and captain didn’t radio for help right away. (Unable to admit a grave mistake quickly?) Then, when it was obvious there was trouble, few people stepped up to lead — many wanted to help but didn’t know how. There should always be leaders in an an emergency — men, women, doesn’t matter. And they should quickly assess the situation and hand off additional leadership as needed to those who can help take charge. From reading the accounts, it seemed to me that everyone would have been able to get off that ship safely if they had started evacuating earlier and people had worked together. Forget “women and children first” — it should be “let’s all work together so we can all get out alive.”

      • Great article, but I’ve got to disagree with you on ‘Women and Children First’. Maybe it’s because I’m old, but to me it will always be ‘Women and Children First’. I was horrified to read accounts of the Costa Concordia where men pushed past women and children to get to the lifeboats. I repeat, it’s always ‘Women and Children First’. Hey, maybe that’s the ‘Male Privilage’ the “Feministas” are always railing on about!

        • Actually, there was a statement I read in another article on this site. A statement so simple, yet so profound, it explained most of the difference between men and women in todays’ world Women are allowed to be, but a man is expected to do”.

    • DavidByron says:

      Did you mean that thing which went round where people expressed compassion for the men who didn’t want to leave their families (because they were serving a function they get to live) but said the single men ought to have volunteered to die?

  12. Richard Aubrey says:

    If it’s not women and children first, it’s women and children last because men can always kick the women and kids around and get to the lifeboats–or whatever other lifesaving devices fit the situation and of which there are too few. I think feminism is going to have to come up with a code word for difficulties, something that says, convincingly, “We didn’t mean it. We were kidding.”
    Now, of course trying to think about what the men of the Titanic thought as the water came up, the freezing North Atlantic in April, and the life boats drifted off is tough. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have done what they did. Of course it was tough. That’s the point. If it were easy, there’d be no reason to think one way or another about it.
    One of our culture’s founding documents says, in part, “no greater love than this, that he lay down his life for another”.

    Or, as Kipling said of the Jollies, “once in a while they can finish in style, which I ‘ope it won’t ‘appen to me.” and “to stand and be still to the Birkenhead drill is a damn’ tough bullet to chew….” Point being, it was admirable while not desirable, but the speaker was hoping if his luck was out, he’d be able to do the same.

    Yeah, a lot went wrong on that boat. Having said that…now what?

  13. Richard Aubrey says:

    David Byron. Your observation reminded me of something. The 101st Airborne had its worst day not in Normandy, or Arnhem, or at Bastogne. It was when a bunch were returning from the Sinai zookeeping duty. Their charter crashed just off the Gander–iirc–airfield. Turned out the single guys volunteered to take later flights so the married guys could get home for Christmas with their families.
    What annoys some people is that the official explanation is a power failure and crash, the autopsies, such as are not redacted, show guys with smoke products in their lungs. IOW it was on fire first.

  14. I really like the idea of a place for men to share their stories and discuss masculinity.
    My main worry is that people may be expected to understand and accept the basic doctrines of feminism before the things they say will be taken seriously.
    I’m not saying I want to bash women or see this site turn into a copy of The Spearhead, I would just like to see a truly open discussion where men can be honest with themselves and each other without feminists (or MRAs) dictating what is and isn’t allowable to think or talk about.

    That being said, I am very glad Hugo Schwyzer left, as I felt like his mind was made up regarding manhood, and the last thing he wanted was an open discussion or dissenting opinions.

    I am just a lurker and sometimes-troll, but that is my two cents.

    • @ Melanas – people are always interested in two cents, especially in these economically challenging times!

      But – I want to know more about this “I would just like to see a truly open discussion where men can be honest with themselves and each other…”!

      I’m interested in the other 98 cents, mainly because you really can’t get much these days for less than a full dollar!

      So what would “truly open” look like to you?

      How does honest look like and how does it get written up?

      You said you were a “lurker and sometimes-troll”, so what would you need to stop lurking and give up any association with creatures under bridges?

      Does GMP need to give up what some see as Bridge Building and leave no places for Trolls to hide? P^)

      I’m waiting for the full dollar!

  15. Elam’s question is a show-stopper at first glance. But it’s a red herring. No one is questioning the common humanity of males and females. Neither sex has exclusive claim to goodness. Goodness is not gender-specific, but it is gender-related. That is, it shows up differently in males and females, as your piece points out. And as David Byron says, goodness requires different things of men than women—in his terms, a kind of doing more than being. Almost universally, manhood is a culturally defined and mandated achievement in a more distinct way than is womanhood. Moreover, we have to continue for most of our lives to prove that we are still men—eg. not appearing “thin-skinned” in a tarmac encounter with a female governor. In some cultures the pressure is unrelenting. Being a good man may require similar attributes to being a good woman, but becoming a good man requires a very different journey than becoming a good woman. And that’s why the stories of that struggle for men are so important to hear and why Elam’s question is irrelevant.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Well, exactly Larry. Thanks for your very articulate explanation.

      Paul Elam is not the first person to question the use of our words “good” and “man”. But — really — how telling is it that we can’t even have a conversation about the term “good men” without being questioned.

      Exactly why we’re having the conversation.

  16. We can “have a conversation” Lisa but it cannot involve women.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      I obviously disagree, gwallan. One contributor (a man) said “we, as men, like to look at ourselves from the inside looking out, but also from the outside looking in.” And for me, personally, well, I don’t think there’s a conversation on earth women can’t feel they can be a part of.

      That said — I would of course respect your personal desire to talk only with men about certain issues. You should never feel as if you had to talk to someone you didn’t feel comfortable with. No one should.

    • I think it can not only possibly invoved but that it must involve women if for no other reason than men and women both must either co-exist or perish in the long run (I say in the long run because while they both exist now look at how things are so messed up).

      But I do agree that women should not be able to dominate the conversation. In fact its not too different from the noise going on about Hugo is terrible for daring to take a leadership position among feminists given that he is a man.

      But as Lisa says there simply some things that will be off limits to women, which will vary from man to man.

      • @Danny…

        Lisa continues to misunderstand. This isn’t the “good person project”. Women have no place in defining a man let alone defining what constitutes a “good” man. I would assert the opposite just as strongly.

        The greatest loss men and boys have suffered over the past half century is that of male only institutions. A male entering a female environment alters the dynamic of that environment. This is recognised hence numerous female only environments are encouraged. The opposite is also just as true but is not acknowledged. The mentoring, leadership and guidance once provided by men for younger men and boys has been lost to the forces of political correctness.

        • Women have no place in defining a man let alone defining what constitutes a “good” man. I would assert the opposite just as strongly.
          Agreed which is why if I did get the sense that Lisa, Joanna, and the other women around here were trying to impose thoughts on what a good man is on us I’d have left long ago. (Which is why I’m glad that folks like Hugo are gone and/or going, people like that that try to tell us what we should be shown the door.)

          The greatest loss men and boys have suffered over the past half century is that of male only institutions. A male entering a female environment alters the dynamic of that environment. This is recognised hence numerous female only environments are encouraged. The opposite is also just as true but is not acknowledged. The mentoring, leadership and guidance once provided by men for younger men and boys has been lost to the forces of political correctness.
          While I don’t fully agree that they are a necessity I do readily agree that the fact that male only institutions have been attacked and questioned so much is not fair. I’ve noticed that there are people who will in one breath say that female only spaces (not just learning institutions but gyms, clubs, etc…) hold some sacred purpose while at the same time declaring that all male only spaces exist for the sole purpose of excluding women, and of course painting up “excluding women” as a universally bad thing.

          I would prefer to see men and women co mingling as much as possible but I say that under the express condition that excluding women, or anyone is bad in and of itself.

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