Looking for something to read? The Good Men Project Magazine editors share their favorite stories of the year.
Outside an abortion clinic, a devoted husband with a cell-phone camera takes on the protesters who harassed his wife as she prepared to terminate her pregnancy. The couple wanted another child, but the fetus lacks two vital organs and would be born dead. “What are you hoping to accomplish here?” Aaron asks, challenging them to justify their tactic of shaming and humiliating a woman “on the worst day of her life.”
The response to the three-minute video was staggering. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” wrote one commenter. Another: “This piece moved me to tears.” The story went viral; two months later, the conversation is still going strong.
Forrister, born a woman, was never asked to fix a car or a jammed printer—until he transitioned to a male. His story is a thoughtful and educational take on the extent to which gendered scripts—not just biology and hormones—affect male behavior.
Despite all the changes that I’ve experienced, T hasn’t completely altered who I am. I’m not a technology wizard. (My wife is the tech geek.) I don’t turn into the Hulk when I’m angry. I haven’t gained an interest in sports. I’m strong and confident, but I will always be that artsy guy.
And I’ve learned that being open to learning, trying to fix things to empower myself, and helping others is one of the manliest things I can do.
Shane, a prostitute, writes affectionately about some of her clients—men who debunk the “john” stereotype, men whose sexual interest is the opposite of disrespectful and abusive:
I’m tired of seeing men and women buy into the lie that male sexuality is inherently violent and sadistic. … The longer I’ve worked, the more it seems that the sex is often a front. It’s an entry point that allows men to make their real request (for affection, understanding, and connection) while still satisfying stereotypical ideas of masculinity. What most men want is a great romance or, at the very least, a great friendship. They want to feel like they’re falling in love. They want to feel loved in return.
While she acknowledges that her experience is vastly different from other sex workers’—for whom exploitation and rape are very real and constant perils—Shane says she doesn’t regret selling sex. “It’s allowed me to meet many good men.”
Criticism of this piece centered on our ostensible condonation of prostitution, an “evil industry.” But by highlighting the redeeming qualities of sex work, Shane’s story challenges the stigma that suppresses the human rights of workers like herself—and others who may be more vulnerable to abuse. As Anna North at Jezebel noted, we should listen to what Shane and other sex workers have to say: “We need to be open to the idea that what many sex workers want is not salvation, but a safe way to continue doing their jobs.”
We also appreciated the nuanced, sympathetic glimpse into male sexuality. Conventional wisdom holds that for guys, romance is only a means to an end; Shane’s professional opinion challenges that notion.
Ted Cox, a straight man, invented an identity as a Mormon-turned-Christian whose marriage fell apart after he fell in love with his best friend. He checked himself into a program called Journey into Manhood, where he participated in homoerotic rituals designed to exorcise his same-sex attraction.
He intended to expose the retreat as hypocritical, ineffectual, and ultimately psychologically harmful, and he did—click through to read—but after becoming close friends with the men he met, he ultimately had to confess that he’d betrayed them.
Baker, a San Francisco–based writer and digital-media producer, tracks worldwide traditions of mourning throughout history, concluding that our odd inclination to communicate with the dead through their Facebook accounts might be healthier than it seems.
While writing this piece, I looked at Facebook accounts of numerous decedents I wasn’t “friends” with, and I could almost always view their photos, status updates, and Wall posts. On the Wall of a man who may or may not have jumped off a building, someone wrote, “How u doing? Miss you much. Hope you were here with me on my graduation. Be in peace.” Friends of a man who died from a motorcycle accident offer his grief-stricken girlfriend—still in a Facebook relationship with him—childcare help via Wall post.
After all, even though it’s difficult to let go of loved ones when they retain an online presence, “you only have to ‘defriend’ with the single click of a button to leave the wake.”
See also: “The Duke F*ck List and the Age of Zero Privacy” by Miriam Barcus
The definitive list. Tom asked Sebastian Junger, Robert Pinsky, Andrew Sullivan, James Franco, Junot Diaz, and many others to tell us their most cherished “guy rituals”—from drinking beers in the garage with friends, to peeing in the toilet with their sons, to reading the newspaper on the can.
Is social networking inherently self-serving, or does it contain untapped potential for significant innovation and human achievement? Good Men Media CEO Lisa Hickey writes a persuasive argument for the latter.
Tomorrow: Information, news, content will be acted on. The people who get shared information and ideas and know how to act on it will change the world.
She draws from her own experiences—fashioning a social-media presence for the country of Iceland (“Not bad for a Saturday night”), using Facebook to mitigate the crisis of locating an MIA daughter with a dead phone—to show how seemingly insignificant connections “move others forward” and fortify our “investment in the world.”
“Blow-dry” is bluesman Todd Mauldin’s ode to the simple rituals he shares with his son—such as taking a blow-drier and “blasting” the 8-year-old’s post-bath hair until he looks like he “stuck his finger in a light socket.”
I miss those tender moments of just me and him, being together, physically touching. But we have this now, and I get to run my fingers through his hair, and spin him around, and blast him with hot air from a blow-drier, and help him look like he wants to look, and it’s a real thing for me.
See also: Mauldin’s “Diplomacy With Earth People“
GMPM senior editor Belanger, who is a better editor than he is a first baseman, didn’t want to spend a season or two riding the pine in his local straight softball league—so he joined a gay one. He liked gay softball so much, in fact, he sponsored his team the next year. In his third year, he sponsored two: the Brushbacks and—wait for it—the Studs (his teammates rejected his suggestion, the Hammerin’ Homos).
In the league for six years now, he has no plans on going straight. What everyone wants to know, he says, is if gay softball is like “real” softball, or “if guys are skipping around the bases and stepping out of the batter’s box to fix their hair”:
Um, no. But there are other differences. (And I’d know, because I’ve played in a couple straight softball leagues.)
First, the better teams in the gay league would absolutely wipe the floor with the straight teams I’ve played on and against.
Second, there’s a lot more grab-ass and crotch-adjustment in straight softball, and when someone gets a hit, their teammates yell “nice piece!”—a phrase that strikes me as a little gay.
Third, there’s a lot more whining and pouting in straight softball when an ump misses a call.
See also: “When Did You Choose to Be Straight?“
What constitutes infidelity? And can “emotional cheating” weigh as heavily on our trust as the physical kind?
Is it wrong to chat with an ex on Facebook? To have drinks with a female coworker? To look at porn?
“Emotional fidelity is a lot harder to quantify than sexual infidelity,” says Men’s Health editor Jason Feifer. “Where’s the line? … You know damn well if your wife is lying in your shared bed or someone else’s, but you’ll never really know where her emotions point.”
And as our own Lisa Hickey notes, “Why is it sex and not love that is the arbiter of infidelity?”
Tom Matlack asked guys what they thought. The verdict’s still out and the forum’s still open. We hope you continue to weigh in.