The Astoundingly Simple Truth About Masculinity and Goodness

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About Michael Kaufman

Michael Kaufman is a writer and educator who’s worked for 30 years engaging men and boys to promote gender equality and transform our ideas of good men. He’s the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. Author of 9 books, his latest is The Guy’s Guide to Feminism. @GenderEQ


  1. Ben Kling says:

    I agree with most of this, but I have trouble with the position that men are “trained not to experience (let alone show) weakness or pain.”
    I think they’re trained not to recognize or acknowledge it, but ignoring or hiding the thorn in your side out of shame or a sense of duty doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing it.

  2. Peter Houlihan says:

    “they help individual men cement our roles at the top of social hierarchies. They help individual men take advantage of enormous privileges that men as a group enjoy.”

    I take huge exception to this. Firstly, it ignores female privilege, secondly, it ignores women doing exactly the same thing.

    Other than that I’m not sure I agree with the idea that masculinity is purely social, the asethetic expression of masculinity varies enormously accross different cultures, but the root characteristics are the same. That said, biology isn’t destiny and I think a deconstruction of gender would serve us all better than to lionise masculinity (or femininity).

  3. The Bad Man says:

    I have to agree with the central tenet of not implying gender roles for boys and girls. Now lets follow through with that and campaign to stop violence against everyone. How about some “equality”, hmmmm Kaufman?

  4. It would be interesting to find out whether, in cultures where men are not required to take setbacks with quiet stoicism, if the suicide / alcohol abuse rate is much lower…

  5. Michelle Milenkova says:

    Yo you guys are trippin mad balls, nobodys training you so stop over analyzing life. If you wanna cry then cry if you wanna be a leader then lead and if someone says you can’t do something cuz ur a boy or a girl tell em to suck it and dont kick it with that person anymore. Don’t look at society as a whole because it’s disorganized and hypocritical, just deal with the individuals that give you problems. If everyone did that everything would just be easier

  6. Matt Casto says:

    We live in a world where manhood is not clearly defined. I think that we need to make a go at reestablishing the traditional values of manhood but done so within the context of gender equality, cultural diversity, social adaptation and globalization. I have five boys and the way forward for them as men is not very clear. I knew what it meant to be a man when I was a teenager. My boys are not so fortunate. I the problem is mainstream society do not know what it means to be a man anymore. I am even confused. In the quest for acceptance and equality we have lost manhood. I spend a lot of time with my boys and my primary objective is to help them discover their definition of manhood. It has definitely change since I was a boy and together we are finding the journey quite fulfilling. Together we are becoming men!

  7. David Byron says:

    I didn’t know I was supposed to be able to lord it over women.
    Does anyone want to help me test this one out?

  8. On word… Testosterone. The natural conclusion should follow. Intellectualize that all you like.

  9. PatRiarchy says:

    Our contemporary ideas of manhood simultaneously do two things: First, they help individual men cement our roles at the top of social hierarchies. They help individual men take advantage of enormous privileges that men as a group enjoy.

    Would you please list these privileges.

    Is it the privilege to be killed at work.

    Is it the privilege to have no rights or choices like a female at the instant a pregnancy occurs?

    Is it the privilege to have the education system stacked against you so that more females attend university than men?

    Every time I ask for a list of all our privileges I get no answer. Please explain.

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