Does The Good Men Project Have a Mission?

Tom Matlack knows why he started The Good Men Project. Now he’d like to know: Why are you here?

It is beginning to feel, at times, like The Good Men Project has a bit of the Occupy Movement in us in the sense that we all know this is important, but we each have a different reason why. And, as a result, our list of demands can easily come into direct conflict.

I had my own reasons for starting The Good Men Project. I have said many times it was purely selfish: I wanted an excuse to learn from inspiring men from completely different backgrounds what being a good man meant to them. And I have been rewarded a thousand times over, men of color, men in prison, men at war, women who became men, gay men, straight men, swingers. You name it, I have been moved and changed by the stories shared as part of our movement.

But the debate remains, and for good reason, what is the real mission of The Good Men Project?

I got two emails this week from well-known writers, both of whom did not want to leave comments and even share their words. I suppose that in a world where manhood is up for grabs, and the fear of reprisal is great, the truth is sometimes hard to say out in the open.

Nevertheless I am sharing them here in hopes that you will reflect on what it is that you value about what we are attempting here, what is right about our mission, and what you’d like to see more of.

I sometimes feel odd trying to go with the flow of contemporary masculinity. One must, to a certain extent. But I am a defector from what I see as a bankrupt ideology. I overdosed on the whole world of football and its thinly veiled celebration of war and its occult rapist ethics. It is not only at Penn State that it constitutes a cult.

Anyway, I value The Good Men Project for many reasons, not least of which is its willingness to try to meet men where they are and encourage us to ask questions and work out the answers provisionally in our lives. I call myself a feminist because the work of that second wave of feminists was crucial to me in coming to understand the structures of abusive power. But that word has been poisoned (even for young women!) and the earnest mens’ magazines that came out of that feminist revolution end up reaching only their faithful, preaching to the choir and all that. So thank you for your work, that’s really all I was trying to say.

And here is the second one:

I watched the GMP documentary again this evening and was reminded of how–and why–I was drawn to the GMP to begin with. It was because it was nice to hear real men’s stories from actual men, for a change, instead of from women, or shrinks, or talk show hosts, and how moving the documentary actually is–and why.

It just seems to me that if men want to hear what’s wrong with them, especially from women, there is an entire array of magazines and other venues for just that purpose. Sometimes, I think, men are actually OK just as they are, and the one thing they need to work on is the ability to tell and articulate their own stories about the challenges they face as men in their lives after a lifetime of being sneered at, in one way or another, or called ‘whiners’ for articulating them. From the first time a little boy falls down and is told not to cry, to learning how to endure pain and suppress his feelings as an adolescent, the message is “shut up and take it.” Taking it is one thing–shutting up is quite another.

I guess I just never really saw the GMP as a place where there would be a such regular dosage of chastisement for being male. I’m sure I’m not the only guy on the site that groans a little when he reads on the GMP how much work he has to do to “fix” himself, or who isn’t all that interested in constantly hearing about how incredibly well off men are because of their “privilege” (and I can tell you that the much-vaunted “male privilege” looks very different to someone who grew up as a skinny, feminine gay boy to whom “male privilege” was entirely withheld) either in articles or in the letters section–though it’s great that readers express their views so freely.

But as I’ve said before, I know exactly what the response would be if male readers of a site called “The Good Womyn’s Project” too to the letters section to explain to the women how they could “improve” themselves, or be “better women.”

I would ask you to comment on any of this, my original inspiration or what these two writers are saying, that strikes you as true and valuable and what is really not what you see as the proper mission of our collective Project.
Thank you for continuing to make this such a rich and vibrant community of writers, readers, commenters, and thinkers.

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. Matt Casto says:

    Great thought provoking dialogue today from this read. The only comment that seems to leap off my lips is “the guilty take the truth to be hard”. I was taught by my wife that a defensive person is usually guilty. I teach my boys that defensiveness in an indicator to look inward. If a man reads from GMP and becomes defensive or feels overly pressed to change then maybe they should take some humility and look inward. Equally, if a woman gets offended by a man’s attempt to express himself then they too must take a deeper look into the mirror. I believe that the world needs more humility and less criticism. Keep up the good work GMP.

  2. The Bad Man says:

    I just grew up poor and was expected to work to support myself and with expectation to get married. I’m not religious or feminigious. I paid my way for everything, including university, and I starved and struggled at times without special scholarships for whats between my legs. I did all that masculine stuff and traditional expectations. I worked real hard at school, work and at home. None of it matters and it’s not worth the trouble, because everything is my fault as a man. Feminists and conservatives have a lot in common in holding men responsible, while maintaining traditional feminine privilege.

    Where is my male privilege card? If I’m going to be blamed for all the worlds problems and neglected, then give me privilege!

    • You need a clearer definition of “privilege.” Privilege is

      1. Something feminists accuse ALL MEN of having, and
      2. Something that only a tiny fraction of men ever get to take advantage of.

  3. So, Tom, you asked. Permission to speak freely, sir?

    Strikes me that the title containing both the words “Good” and “Project” intimates that most men are, somehow, currently “Bad.” Otherwise, why would one be engaged in a “Project?” That viewpoint (that men are not “Good” as they are, but need to be made “Good”) also tends to be consistent with the viewpoint expressed by a certain professor from the left coast who writes for this ezine.

    For sh*ts and giggles: should we be involved in a Better Men Project? Most of the women I’ve dealt with seem to be genuinely interested in men becoming Better.

  4. rayhaus,
    I’m glad to at least see an aknowledgement that their are Good Men. After being bashed by various
    feminists (almost into oblivian) it’s nice to know their are other men that have had similar negative
    experiences at the hands of “most women”.
    One topic I have yet to discover is the radical “change” in a woman when she has menopause.
    Glad to have TGMP to read and learn from!

    • What “change” do you mean?

      • The Bad Man says:

        PMS lasts for years instead of just a week every month.

        • You can’t generalize about that. It is the opposite for me. Menopause = PMS TOTALLY GONE!!! Yay!!! Things could not be better. I know lots of women like this. Some struggle like you say–certainly not all.

          Please stop generalizing.

          • Boy is this a slippery slope – there’s a good chance I’m going to fall off the cliff here. But that’s OK because I know there are plenty of men out there that are willing to throw me a lifeline. As a GENERALIZATION I can appreciate what Bad Man says. The trouble with generalizations is that they don’t give an accurate picture of specific instances in relationships. For example, one of my ex-wife’s favorite was “all men are jerks”. Well, to be honest there were plenty of times I was a jerk but more often than not I was trying very hard to be a loving supportive spouse.
            As for PMSing: It has become the convenient excuse for any time a woman decides that something is wrong in the relationship and the man is to blame for it. It’s much more convenient for the man to blame hormonal imbalances than to think there might actually be something wrong with what he’s said or done. In my own experience, things seemed pretty normal and smooth as far as I was concerned them WHAM! all of a sudden I’m searching for my armor and sword. I’ve learned the hard way that I don’t dismiss my spouses GENUINE feelings just because I think she’s “on the rag”. Dismissing her feelings is the wrong approach. So is applying logic to the situation. The best approach I’ve found (because I really do love my spouse) is to turn off the TV, put down the book or stop whatever project I’m on and just listen. It helps to get clarifications. (Can you give me an example? Is it like…. HDTMYF- how does that make you feel?) MY SPOUSE is generally non-confrontational so she carries hurts and resentments for a long time before I’m blasted from out of the blue. Usually it’s a passing remark or a perceived slight that had I known at the time bothered her I would have quickly apologized for. But of course over time, that small stray unloving thought or deed has become this monstrous crisis in our relationship. I’m sure you guys can think of many examples. This gives the impression to many guys that PMS is not just limited to a couple days each month.
            As far as menopause is concerned, IN MY RELATIONSHIP, I’m still working that one out. Empty nest syndrome, self worth, Adjusting to the fact that now we’re just the two of us… Guess what guys: relationships are work no matter what stage you’re in. If you’re not willing to work at it my advice is to stay single. My last piece of advice: Develop a good one-on-one with your local florist and keep plenty of all occasion cards on hand…

            • Steve, this makes a lot of sense. I know that it goes both ways too. When I used to have PMS (before menopause), it was sometimes the reason I was upset, and often times not–something real was upsetting. Likewise, my then-husband was often angry. He did not have a hormonal cycle, but I knew there were times for armor and times for flowers. That’s how relationships work. Just as I did not want to be “gaslighted” (Yashar Ali’s term) about being on the rag or having PMS, my husband did not want to be misandristly (not a real word!) characterized as always being angry. Relationships definitely are work, and of course it’s a choice whether you have on or not.

              Steve, the fact that I’m a woman and a magnet for MRA criticism means you will probably be attacked simply because I supported you, and for that I’m sorry! I do appreciate your perspective on PMS, and wanted to tell you that. A lot of women are really sick of certain generalizations about it that are not true or miss other critical points, some of which you have identified here quite well. Also, there are quite a lot of lucky women who never experience PMS in their lives. It is unfair to them when men say they all have it and exaggerate it. No different than how wrong it is for women to say “all men are jerks.” That is CLEARLY untrue!

              • Lori, Understand that under the old mores of what it meant to be a man, anger was one of the very few emotions that was allowed expression (with all it’s destructive consequences). In actuality, if I felt angry, there was another feeling under the surface. (examples: I’m hurt; I’m being treated unfairly; I’m feeling unequal to the task at hand; I’m not being understood; I’m not being treated seriously; I’ve felt cheated etc. etc.) Forget about positive emotions – Those make you feel weak and by no means and under no circumstances do men cry! Sorry to all the guys out there that will criticize me for this, but I’ve decided to identify what I’m feeling and embrace what I feel. That’s how I know I’m alive. Yeah, I still get angry, but I can now identify what is behind that anger and channel that knowledge in a healthy direction.

  5. Mark Ellis says:

    I’m here because one dark and stormy night years ago I got an email from guy named Larry Bean, a call for submissions for a new men’s website. As most writers will tell you, that’s all the bait we need to get interested. I happily posted a few pieces on the old blog and wasn’t sure where the whole thing was going, if anywhere.

    Must admit that when the magazine premiered I was a bit taken aback by some of the content, specifically the gender-bending, same-sex attraction essays, and emphasis on the interface with feminist philosophy. As a writer whose bailiwick is mostly partisan conservative analysis of politics and culture–which the brain trust here has, in my opinion, wisely steered clear of–I was suddenly in the company of writers, thinkers, and readers who were coming from a place well outside my usual comfort zone.

    I had never in my life picked up a traditional men’s magazine like GQ (?). Knowing now what I’ve learned from this site, I would have immediately pegged such content as metro-sexual narcissism.

    So, I had nothing to compare GMPM to, and though I’m sure I qualify in many respects as an old-school patriarch, the folks who created and developed this enterprise, going all the way back to old Larry, have always given me a fair shot, have offered my ideas representation, and have broadened my grasp of the contemporary culture as it exists outside my usual orbit.

  6. For me, the Good Men Project is a venue for the thoughts, the experiences of Men and more broadly Masculinity – So it is about feminine-through-to-masculine men(nontrans and trans), and masculine women. Particularly, how definitions of masculinity and femininity impact, for good or ill, on them. Personally Id love to read more alot articles from trans men, masculine women and, feminine men. About their experiences of how the borders of masculinity and femininity impact, positively or negatively, on their lives

    But the debate remains, and for good reason, what is the real mission of The Good Men Project?

    As with music I dont think the direction of the mission can be forced. It will emerge naturally, this new direction, this new mission, from the articles and comments syncopating off each other into an unconscious consensus between article and comment writers. An example of this is the current unspoken agreement, that feminist women article writers now unreservedly acknowledge in their articles that men too also face profound difficulties. This arose from the strength of the summer/autumn 2011 counterletters written in protest by men and women, to a number of articles by feminist women who thought they would get wild applause from readers. By writing how ‘badly’ women have it, because of men… on a Men’s site

    letter writer no2: I guess I just never really saw the GMP as a place where there would be a such regular dosage of chastisement for being male. I’m sure I’m not the only guy on the site that groans a little when he reads on the GMP how much work he has to do to “fix” himself, or who isn’t all that interested in constantly hearing about how incredibly well off men are because of their “privilege” (and I can tell you that the much-vaunted “male privilege” looks very different to someone who grew up as a skinny, feminine gay boy to whom “male privilege” was entirely withheld) either in articles or in the letters section–though it’s great that readers express their views so freely.

    But as I’ve said before, I know exactly what the response would be if male readers of a site called “The Good Womyn’s Project” too to the letters section to explain to the women how they could “improve” themselves, or be “better women.”

    I completely agree with you LW2 on all the points youve raised. The good thing is though, that male shaming male blaming articles and comments, are not silently accepted but are vigorously challenged.
    While you were speaking of articles writers regardless of gender. On a related point, Ive seen men on other sites complain about the high number of articles written by feminist women on GMP. I dont mind that, as the benefit of having a high number of feminist women writers, is that their often feminist-women-focused articles fan quickly the flames of debate, as men and women rush in to correct points in the article. Illuminating errors in feminist perceptions, in feminist thinking to the undecided reader. Male shaming male blaming articles and comments, are vigorously challenged.

    Ive always wanted to know if the GMP’s focus is on the articles, or in the letters in response to the articles? Is GMP article or comment driven?
    Ill know youll say both however if the latter, I feel that sometimes the number of articles posted daily can overwhelm and not allow for discussion to develop. As an article can either be missed, or lost in the stampede towards the daily trending article/s.
    For example, the posting of the 11 article “Our Sexual Vocabulary” series – all on the same day, and inaddition to other new articles. I felt that the articles would have had more replies if the series had been posted over 7 days.

    In the year Ive been on GMP, GMP has broadened out from Tom’s original intention of an inspiring collection of mens stories, to being a debating forum between feminist and antifeminist (from equalatist like myself, through to mra) on the nature and severity, of the problems that feminine men and ‘The Masculinities’ face. [Masculine-sphered Men(nontrans and trans) and masculine-sphered women are what I call ‘The Masculinities’, we are part of the same family, we tend to cluster around the same behaviours and instincts.]
    I found GMP through an antifeminist site piece discussing the site, and stayed here to help challenge the forces of female supremacy. It is a daily must read for me. Congrats to you both Tom and Lisa, For hosting a rare meeting place where feminist and antifeminist commenters are roughly equal in number. Where there are provocative articles. Where the discussion is as Lori correctly wrote, intellectually stimulating and of a fine order.

  7. I’m beginning to think the “Good” part of the title is unfortunate, because anyone who points out pitfalls men are struggling with is heard to be saying men are “bad.” This leads to the observer being branded as a feminist, whether male or female, and once pigeon-holed, the pigeon-holer stops listening or trots out the familiar canned responses trying to belittle the observation.

    I think this project was a great idea, but has lost the plot…sadly devolving into superficial bickering and bad manners based narrow-minded assumptions about others’ motives and what is politically correct.

    I was drawn to the idea that a middle ground might be possible that would permit genuine debate and enlightenment, but frankly, I only rarely visit anymore. I wonder if people of various perspectives have simply stopped visiting because of the smug spin of many of the regulars.

    • On further reflection, I think that what I was trying to say is that the original GMP effort seemed to arise because Tom Matlack had pursued hot sex and other short-term highs to the point where he realized it cost him more than it was worth. Having learned a lot, he then wished to make possible a discussion of balance and the possibility (at least) of long-term commitment…not in a dogmatic or exclusionary way…but more as a tribal elder inviting other farsighted perceptions and related hopes that he might help others avoid the pitfalls he had lived.

      My impression (which I hope is mistaken) is that the Diversity Zealots have pretty much grabbed the microphone her, and are quick to shame, and mischaracterize the motives of, anyone who even suggests there’s something to be gained from seeking balance or lasting commitment. They also do their best to cajole the Editor into believing they represent the majority of readers here. Sadly, perhaps they already do.

      If Matlack has any interest in steering for his original goal, he may want to adopt a new editorial policy. I could reflect, proportionately, the various elements of our society instead of over-representing a minority who are actively working to dilute Matlack’s vision. I realize that no precise division would be possible. But the alternative of allowing the most vocal to set the agenda has probably already vastly shifted the audience of this magazine away from Matlack’s intended target audience.

  8. Years (ok decades) ago, there was a comic strip named “Bloom County” one of the features of which were the male characters periodically parking themselves on the men’s couch either for idle chatter or for something more intense. I think GMP is that couch for me where I can laugh at the outrageous, shed a tear when I need to, talk back when I want to, and occasionally offer up a bit of wisdom acquired over the last 58 years. GMP is a forum for all of us who are still figuring things out.

  9. I’m here because I am the mother of a beautiful 17 year old son that I unschool. He and his friends are not exposed to anti-male attitudes and male hatred of feminists or in our society. He is growing up feeling good about himself and cherished for who he is. I am here because I am the author of Instead of Medicating and Punishing and I am in the process of writing a second book, this one the focus is on Attachment Parenting boys and natural education for them. I am here because I am trying to find authentic voices of the pain men are facing. Unfortunately there still seems to be a great deal of male apologizing on here and catering to feminists as if placating the feminist need to believe women are victims and men are perpetrators. However, the articles do have some great points and expressions about some of the suffering men face. I just started going through the website- I hope there is a section on here for abused males, boys and men affected by sexual assault, physical assault, rape, domestic violence, psychological abuse and other forms of abuse by women and men.

    • I want to clarify that I meant in my comment above, “male hatred BY feminists” nor “of”. How I wrote it was unclear.

      • Ms. Couture – thank you for weighing in here.  It is a breath of fresh air to hear a woman tell it like it is.  Thank you! 

        Your book has incredibly positive reviews on Amazon.  I am intrigued and may pick up a copy.

        Please offer your comments here as often as possible.  You can be an excellent female voice of reason, and your perspective is sorely needed.

        Please know that not every man here is a feminist apologist or placater.  For example, I try to provide facts, logic, and reason, in order to shed light on the realities facing boys (and men), in stark contrast to the blame/bash boys and men approach of the feminist movement.

        Regarding your son, I come from a line of strong single parent women who respected and believed in men, including their sons – just as you do, never dismissing them or their concerns due to “male privilege” or any such. 

        By no coincidence, none of them were by any means feminists.

      • The Bad Man says:

        “gender feminists tend to see conventional masculinity as a pathology and the source of much of what is wrong in the world”

        Does anybody else recognize that trend or is it just me? Is there something wrong with men having choices too? I’m like totally pro-choice, so I guess I’m the man in the middle.

    • Yours is an interesting situation. A woman trying to raise a boy on her own is at a severe disadvantage, and not just financially. Women literally do not “get” what it means to be male, any more than men “get” the female experience. So providing resources and examples to help him deal with his gender and its place in society is a special challenge without a father figure to draw on. I wish you the best of luck with this challenge!

      Beyond that, I applaud your recognition that too often the message of feminism amounts to “men are bad,” and that your son deserves better than such a toxic influence. Men being vocally supportive of/subservient to feminism has, sadly, become almost a survival trait in our misandric, man-bashing society. You’ll even see some of it here, but thankfully at least it can be challenged and debated on this forum. On feminist sites that’s not even an option.

  10. I’m here for the attention.

  11. The term ‘Project’ makes all the difference and can’t be emphasized enough. Stories of trying to better yourself rather than articles on how to ‘fix’ yourself ARE what people, women and men, need as an alternative to a century of marketers trying to sell us our own IDs and Superegos.

    Likewise, we need an alternative to half a century of digging into the apologist or reactionary (wimp or bully) positions. There are enough opposite but equally lop-sided articles, by men and women, that try to counteract the macho poison rather than acknowledge that it isn’t entirely external. It doesn’t need to be neutralized, just re-directed.

    Women and feminine men (gay and straight AND bi) need the good men project as something MORE masculine than the other male versions of cosmo etc. A good man is a strong man, the masculine venture IS just as important as the feminine nurture, and a good man beats a ‘tough guy’ any day, and that is the goal here, not the regressive nostalgia, not the static propaganda, the goal, the project.

  12. Mike Sorenson says:

    I personally love the accessibility of the GMP – we don’t have to be professional writers to share our stories, and we are encouraged to provide feedback to those who are willing to pull back the curtains and let us take a look into their world. And the ability to see so many different perspectives on manhood and what being a ‘good man’ is really all about. There is, of course, no solitary answer to that question and the GMP does an amazing job of showing that.

  13. I agree with Writer #2. I see the GMP forum as an opportunity to get away from the feminist view of men–i.e., blaming and shaming–and start looking at masculinity from the MALE perspective for a change. As something to be explored and understood, rather than complained about and corrected.

    TGMP, for me, is a place to discuss the issues and challenges facing men, from an actual male perspective. As such, feminism has nothing to contribute to its discussions.

    • As such, feminism has nothing to contribute to its discussions.
      The coach-and-horses that we antifeminists(whether equalatist through to mra) gallop easily through their feminist arguments, is instructive for the uncommited reader though

  14. I find TGMP’s ‘aberrant posts’ are actually much more representative of men and what men want to be than the traditional men’s magazines. These magazines sell ads at the cost of the quality of the content. They sell a lifestyle that was obsolete decades ago.

    Inherent in such much of the media is the assumption that men are bad or broken… and if you just by X you will be fine. I might not agree with all your posts, but I like the fact that men and women are writing about what the see and feel. Your writers are not selling products or a way of life.

    I would like to see more stories on men helping themselves along with suggestions on how they can do it. Since the Industrial Revolution we have not had fathers and men around to teach or model a masculinity that works. In the collective of men is what we missed. There might not be a man left today that innately processes what was not taught. But between all the men out there exists what any man might be missing.

    We are in this together. Together we can define then embody a masculinity that works.

  15. I’m a relative newcomer to this site, but have enjoyed the articles a lot. So far this is one of the few sites that reflect my situation in life, trying to live as a good man, but also dealing with all the challenges associated with that.

    While my father was a great role-model as I was growing up, he lived in a very 50’s mentality. So I’m quite sure that if I was living in the 50’s I would be adequately prepared… But in this new millennium, the only role-models are from TV or magazines… And we all know how those depict men…

    If I was to define a mission for the GMP, it would be to provide role models for this time. Deal with issues that men generally were taught to “Suck it up” and help us all to become better men. Provide articles that inspire and teach us the skills to navigate this world of masculinity.

  16. I love Mediahound’s comment. So many perspectives possible-sons, grandfathers, friends, other things besides sports that men love. I love Lori’s comment. Lisa has been amazing and I value contributing here and learning from all the writers and commenters. I love learning challenging myself as a writer and a thinker and as a human. I wouldn’t be a good humanist if I didn’t listen, read and challenge myself.

    I hate that things devolve into win/lose when there is so much more opportunity for growth by moving out of traditional roles and frames. Things do seem frustrating that’s true, but growth and movement can cause rough edges, tension. That doesn’t mean the path is wrong. It may mean the path is right, Tom.

    It’s hard to see the squabbling, I can tell. Much like with raising kids, or managing employees-you can see the vision and often they might not be able to see the big picture. So know you are doing something great and that we love participating because it’s a unique place to do so. And it teaches us.

    • Julie, I had a fabulous mentor once who told me that when it comes to matters like politics, society, and so forth, there is danger in all being in agreement. That is a way to all go gently down the wrong path together. The differing and dissenting voices are needed to have the kind of process necessary for thoughtful and positive change. This mentor also told me to think about the Coliseum in Rome, and that you want people yelling at each other, and you want some thumbs up and some thumbs down. If you have that, and you do not feel you are pleasing everyone, and you feel you “just can’t win,” then you know you are being a good leader. I’m not sure I always agree with this–and sometimes I don’t–but I must admit the metaphor has stuck with me through the years, and that I have found myself in situations quite often where it felt true. GMP is one of them.

    • Julie

      Maybe GMP needs a specific section headed “Science Corner” so anyone who posts anything which relies upon a report – a study – some findings published in any form – that is where it goes. Then the boffins can all look at it and dissect the beast. It would then not interrupt so much other communication.

      I am concerned that low quality material is being used to create perceptions that are biased. I do love science and study so I do love weeding the wheat from the chaff – and I am the first to admit that inquiry can lead to extraordinary findings and breakthroughs. But…. it’s a big But… Hugh – not at the expense of creating the pseudo science I call Bullology!

      It has other names too – but I’ll save your blushes! P^)

      I’m all for creative friction – it gets a fire going and it can change the landscape very quickly. But – Bullology is more about smoke signals, and tends to be cryptic to hide it’s true nature. Change is never cryptic – it’s direct and very natural.

      • Julie Gillis says:

        Awesome idea.

      • Yep, love this idea. I get really frustrated with all the diversion and deflection from reciprocal discussion cause by people trotting out studies, some of which are reputable and many of which really are not! It becomes the dance of the dueling studies, and it can be really challenging to respect them all equally when you do not believe they are equally reputable.

      • HaraldEiaDocumentaries says:

        Wow! So science is not welcome unless people who may know nothing about it approve its implications. That would transform GMP into a politically correct bubble of trivial observations.

        May I suggest that anyone who believes political correctness determines what is scientifically valid watch these brilliant documentaries by a Norwegian sociologist who realized the “politically correct” sociologists in Norway (who were saying many of the same things I hear from the PC police here on GMP) were ignoring recent findings on gender and sexual orientation?

        The segments are also highly entertaining.

        Brainwash 1: 7 – “The Gender Equality Paradox”:
        Brainwash 2: 7 – “The Parental Effect”
        Brainwash 7: 7 – “Nature or Nurture”

        The password is “hjernevask” (no capital letters, no quotes).

  17. Tom – I have been looking at the two questions you have posed – “Does The Good Men Project Have a Mission?” and “Why are you here?”.

    Those two questions are in many ways Mutually Exclusive – and combining them can get ideas quite muddled. It even runs the risk of combining them to create a sort of status quo that can be quite insular.

    GMP says of itself “Our content reflects the multidimensionality of men — we are alternatively funny and serious, provocative and thoughtful, earnest and light-hearted. We search far and wide for new stories and new voices from “the front lines of modern manhood.”.”.

    The front-line is not always to be defined in words – it’s multidimensional, and a picture can speak a thousand words.

    Does GMP have a mission? Mission is a grand word – but Aim seems more appropriate. The Aim of engaging men in debate and communication about what it is to be a 21st century man is different to defining what is a 21st century man. Once the Mission is about making or re-making all men in one likeness it reduces the pool of readers, contributors and even makes some unwelcome and unwilling to take part. It runs the risk of simply re-building stereotypes that need to be repeatedly broken and re-built.

    I joke about the GMP being middle aged – and even W.A.S.P. – but just look at the headings for contributions.

    Dads – as if all here are Dads. It fails to address Sons, and they have a place too in being part of The Good Men franchise. All Men are Sons to someone, and youth is part of the adventure of being a man. What about a few Grandfather types who bring a wider view of time, and even a few wry observations about how views of the world change? Are all Good Men to be made middle aged? P^)

    I was having a laugh last night when I was reminded of the Monty Python Sketch – The Four Yorkshire Men. It’s a gross caricature, but all such caricatures are built upon reality. How does GMP ensure it does not end up a caricature of supposed Good Men?

    Sports? Sorry – but not all Good Men think sports are a religion that they have to bow down to. I have green fingers and toes, and would rather spend my hours tending my Arisaemas, Coprosmas and Fuchsias – others collect stamps and even more esoteric objects. There seems to be only two male hobbies or pastimes that have a place at GMP – Sports and Porn. P^)

    Recently I was reading about how men are just not romantic. It’s a supposed fact! We lack any emotional capacity that provides men with the ability to be romantic “As Others Define”.

    He does not like Picnics in the park – he has hay fever – He likes picnics on the beach she hates sand. Who is the unromantic one? If there is a complaint of lack of romance, it tends to be one sided!

    I was struck by this as it reminded me of a trip I took, flying across continents to surprise my Love Interest who thought I could not make it to a special event for them. They were an Opera Singer and it was their first major role as a soloist – so when it came to the curtain call, guess who was the one to present the bouquet of flowers to them on stage? There was even a theme tune for the whole escapade – Moments Of Pleasure – Kate Bush.

    There is a great deal written about how men seemingly get it wrong – in fact at times it’s like a Tsunami attempting to wash away all that is male to be replaced with a new species. So how about giving guys a small corner where they can say how they are romantic as Guys – what romance is to them – what they have done that is romantic and even why. Think of it as a few pebbles on the beach against the Tsunami.

    Music that is special to them and which reminds them and others of what Kate Bush sings of as “these moments given are a gift from time”.

    There is this presumption that men have either different emotions or even a lack of them. Maybe the language is different and what is needed is a place for translation? That sounds terribly like Her On Venus Him On Mars – more stereotyping – but where is the place for men to show they are not stereotypical?

    I have read some great writing here that is Emotionally Charged, but it seems to lack comment and air time.

    Maybe allow it under a heading of “Big Boys Do Cry!”, and give the stereotypes and nice twist as they are served cooley and with a uniquely male flavor – sort of a BBQ Smokey Beef to go with the chocolates, flowers and champagne…. and mix up the content so it’s not just text.

    I think of what I have read which gave me ideas of a Good Man. I’m odd – but one thing I have read that sticks in my mind is the three page tribute that Frank Herbert (Of Dune Fame) wrote about his wife Beverly and included in his book, “Chapterhouse: Dune”. It is a real tear jerker – and honest in ways that could only inspire. To quote:

    “Is it any wonder that I look back on our years together with a happiness tran­scending anything words can describe? Is it any wonder I do not want or need to forget one moment of it? Most others merely touched her life at the periphery. I shared it in the most intimate ways and everything she did strengthened me. It would not have been possible for me to do what necessity demanded of me dur­ing the final ten years of her life, strengthening her in return, had she not given of herself in the preceding years, holding back nothing. I consider that to be my great good fortune and most miraculous privilege.”

    GMP has a format that has come from the development of the Net over the last 20 years – and some refer to that as blogorrhea – where words take over from the message. There are men out there who are not good at writing, but they too have valuable messages – so how do they contribute and join in? Some are not Web and Net Savvy – so they need easy access and differing routes to have a voice.

    Where can they post even a photograph of a special moment that for them defines what it is to be a Good Man and show how they see the world and even how the world sees them. It’s not all wedding albums and kids on a swing! One of my friends has a most Poignant Portrait hanging on his wall – It’s him at the grave side of his best friend. He calls it the greatest moment in his life – the biggest change that made him who he is. It may not be romantic, but the emotions communicated are very real – and worthy of great respect.

    If GMP has a Mission to use the Net and new Media, there are ways that may well need to be explored so that voices and messages of all men of all types can be raised.

    There is a word that has sort of gone out of Vogue – “Inspire”. Who are the guys who inspire other guys – what are the ideas that inspire – It could be Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek and his battles with The Prime Directive to The Homeless Guy who saved your life when you were being mugged. Hero’s is a word that has many meanings to many different people. It’s not all sports types, military men and CEO’s.

    I have met many Hero’s in my life – and men who inspire for so many reasons – yet looking at GMP there is no where to mention them in a way that makes sense. Some have written about Steve Jobs and his Vision – and yet what about someone like Mark Shuttleworth and his humorous take on innovation – he developed HBD as a socially aware business because on the map it was marked “Here Be Dragons”. Then he challenged the whole IT concept world wide with Ubuntu. It’s free to give people the chance to innovate – not have to buy innovation. For me that’s a Good Man – a Human who does not just inspire by what he does, but by what he allows others to do.

    It may be cliche – but where is the GMP top ten Good Men Of The Year? It could be the Nobel Prize for just being a Good Guy. Forget Politics, Money and even Media – celebrate the Good Men who do it just because being a Good Man is an ends in itself.

    “the front lines of modern manhood.” – who is drawing the lines and why? Maybe the map that says “Here Be Dragons” needs to be cast aside. How about here be Pussy Cats – some are Lions and Tigers whilst others are sort of Tabby and even Moth Eaten = Purrrrrrr!

    As To “Why are you here?” – I live in hope, and I find people fascinating!

    GMP is a microcosm of so much – I almost think of it as a fish bowl and I feed according to whim and need P^)

  18. Marcus Williams says:

    I first discovered GMP three months ago, when an outside link brought me to Lisa Hickey’s 9/11 article, where I contributed what I thought would be a one-off comment that led to a very engaging discussion. You could say it was atheism that initially brought me here, because it was Lisa’s atheist take that I first connected with. It was encouragement by Lisa and the other active participant in that thread (Roger Durham) that led to my first article contribution, and it just snowballed from there.

    Honestly, my primary attraction to GMP is not it’s core mission, but the writing opportunity. As I started reading more of the articles, and being impressed with the variety and quality of perspectives, I thought, “Hey, I’ve thought and written about this stuff! I could write here!” Like Lori Day above, I have found GMP to be a rewarding and intellectually challenging online community. I’ve read some excellent writing, and feel like I’ve connected with at least a few readers in my own articles, but besides that, I’ve met friends and mentors I never really expected to meet. I didn’t really come to GMP to get inspired or grow as a man, but by hanging out and interacting with thoughtful people, I know the former has happened, and hopefully the latter has, too.

    To be clear, it’s not just the articles and comments I agree with that inspire me or present opportunities for growth. It’s not unusual for me to sit and read something at GMP while shaking my head back and forth and feeling insulted or blamed for being a man. By reflecting on my disagreement and seeing how others express why and how they disagree, I often clarify my own thinking on issues I hadn’t really given all that much thought to. When a few voices are consistently unpleasant without offering any novel perspectives or insights, I try to tune them out like I would anywhere else, but that’s the nature of the ‘Net, not something unique to GMP.

  19. I feel that I have something to contribute to what can help men to be better, in a balance way, that lays approriate responsibility on men but doesn’t demonize them.

  20. I love GMP and am so honored to be part of the team.

    I do think that we need to do two things, and we’re doing them:

    1. affirm what men are already doing right
    2. challenge men where we still need to do better.

    I try and do both, but I tend to do more of #2; Tom tends to do more of #1. But we’re all on the same team here, with the same fundamental goal: helping all of us understand men a little better.

  21. What I tell people when I share this link is that if they think the internet is only for killing brain cells, then they haven’t read the incredible writers on this site yet.

    There are so many articles on here that no site in their right mind would touch because they are taboo, or too controversial, or because no one wants to hear it. For specific examples I mean: The Top Five Unmanly TV Characters (and why we love them), articles about the double standards when it comes to blow jobs vs. cunnilingus (which spoke volumes about my own understanding of sexuality and unconscious pressure that I wasn’t even aware of), not just criticizing JoePa but taking a second to show how we can implicitly become tolerant of sex abuse on a small scale, and other great articles like them.

    I’ve just never heard anyone talk about those kinds of things (publicly or not) and so to have a whole site devoted to talking about this kind of stuff is amazing. It’s gold. It makes me really happy and I truly think that sites like these can be life-changing. These are the conversations people need to start having with each other, and you are removing the smoke and mirrors and giving us tools to do just that.

    And the great thing is that this site has a lot to do with gender, sex, how we misinterpret either gender, and other things that I can understand and apply in my own life.

    Basically: I’m really, really grateful.

  22. I’m here because I was told there would be punch and pie.

    Alas I kid. I’m here to share my stories and imbibe the stories of others, in the hopes of gaining a greater understanding of self and helping others to do the same.


  23. Tim Stobierski says:

    I look at The Good Men Project as a conscious reflection of what it means to be a truly good man. It is a mirror in which society can look at itself from all lights and angles and see not just one representation of “man,” but many. And by looking at all of these different views, we can find a way to reconcile the seemingly contrary images in order to finally come to a firm understanding of what a good man is, and what he isn’t.

  24. Are women’s comments welcome here? I’ll hope so and comment anyway.

    I’m here for lots of reasons:

    1) I really like men and boys. I grew up surrounded by them, and I worked for many years in a boys’ school with 100% male students and a heavily male faculty and administration. That experience was mixed because I LOVED the school and the job, and believed the boys were in an amazing environment. At the same time, I faced sexism and discrimination everyday. I love being part of a site that explore what is *good* about men!

    2) I am extremely interested in gender issues. This is a great place to write about them, and to learn from others.

    3) I have yet to find a place for my writing that speaks to me in the way GMP does. The writers are a tight community, Lisa Hickey is an incredible mentor, Tom’s vision is extremely inspiring, and I feel supported professionally as well as personally valued…even when not everyone agrees with everything I write.

    4) The readers and commenters on this site are unique. Nowhere else that I write or comment has a community of readers who are as intelligent, educated, diverse, thoughtful, passionate and committed. Even when things get heated, everyone keeps coming back. That speaks volumes.

    5) For me, there is nowhere else that I feel I can advocate for both girls/women and boys/men with passion, and without a seeming contradiction. I do sometimes complain that when I write about girls/women (yes, from my feminist perspective) there are certain men who jump all over me. But when I write about boys/men, feminists jump all over me–and I am one! The point is that it’s ok to be myself here…to try out *all* of my views in writing, to take risks, not to feel I have to please this group or that group, to really explore gender, and especially masculinity, as a *woman*.

    6) GMP is one of the most rewarding and intellectually challenging online communities I have ever encountered. I do sincerely feel honored to be a part of Tom’s mission, to be welcome here as a woman (generally speaking…not always by all commenters…but for the most part), to feel my life experiences can benefit others as theirs can benefit me, and to get so much intellectual stimulation. In a world of dumbed down media, this is a smart place! My brain aches for this kind of engagement. I discovered GMP by being asked to submit a guest blog. When Lisa asked me to write permanently, I wavered. I was stretched too thin. I didn’t want to over-commit. How quickly I got hooked!! Now it is my FAVORITE blogging position, and my favorite community, and I feel so lucky and honored to be here.

    Thank you, Tom!

  25. To put it bluntly, I’m here because the culture of Men’s Health, Maxim, GQ, etc. is simply disgusting. I was attracted to GMP because it is something for men to read that doesn’t sexualize women (and almost everything else for that matter), and doesn’t try to sell me whey protein every other page! GMP is sane and balanced and the readers/comments are actually mature in a very deep, very real way.

    I forget how I stumbled upon GMP, but it reminded me of my husband (a self-proclaimed feminist) and how he has been harassed even as an adult for not fitting into masculine stereotypes. Until I was with my current spouse, I never realized how much pressure men put on other men to act “manly”.

    We’ve come to the conclusion that a “real man” is someone who exercises critical thought, is clever enough to avoid brutality, cares for their surroundings, the earth, and mankind in general, and above all else is graceful and kind (watch the series “My Name is Earl” for a character study of an emerging “real man”.) As for all the comments I see on this website that claim that GMP is some kind of feminist conspiracy, I ask, how could a “real man” when defined this way NOT be a feminist?!

    Also, I find the debates here to be amusing. I often click on articles not to read the main text, but to see what is happening in the comments section! The contrasting thoughts of readers is the most thought provoking part of visiting GMP.

  26. Well it seems that the GMP has turned into a debating class where the definition of men is to be fought over!

    Maybe that is needed – but also a place where debate is less and experience more the content.

    So maybe a few more domains should be acquired – and a few side rooms created.

    That way the debate and tinkering with man can be kept in the garage – and other rooms in the house can be used for more focused dialogue, or just relaxing. P^)

  27. PursuitAce says:

    I’m here to learn about women. They’ve always been a puzzle. So it’s pretty much self-interest. Sorry…

  28. At first I was attracted to GMP simply because there are so few forums for men to express themselves. Typical men’s rags are devoted to sports, sex or style. I was looking for something deeper; more pertinent to changing roles and awareness. I wanted to hear and give/receive feedback on our stories. I submitted one article and received only one male reply. Perhaps it’s too soon in the journey for most men to feel comfortable putting their feelings and motivations out there for the judgement of others. One thing I do know – we will not discover who we are by becoming more like woman. We have to discover and embrace what makes us uniquely male…

  29. Chris Flux says:

    I’m here because I believe in getting the best out of men and bettering humanity! Why does our culture have to sink into a false view of masculinity that benefits no one, when we could embrace an exciting, vibrant and fulfilling vision of masculinity which benefits everyone?


  1. […] The Good Men Project founder Tom Matlack posed the question: Does the Good Men Project have a mission? In his article he asks, amongst other things, why are you here? I have to be honest and answer, I […]

  2. […] founder Tom Matlack posed the question: Does the Good Men Project have a mission? In his article he asks, amongst other things, why are you here? I have to be honest and answer, I […]

  3. […] comment was on Does The Good Men Project Have a Mission? The comment was by Matt […]

  4. […] Does The Good Men Project Have a Mission? It is beginning to feel, at times, like The Good Men Project has a bit of the Occupy Movement in us in the sense that we all know this is important, but we each have a different reason why. looks very different to someone who grew up as a skinny, feminine gay boy to whom “male privilege” was entirely withheld) either in articles or in the letters section–though it's great that readers express their views so freely. I love GMP and am so honored to be part of the team. […]

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