Tom Matlack believes in men and the stories they tell.
In the fall-out of debate which has dominated our pages for the last week, those of who care most deeply about The Good Man Project have had to pull back and think very hard about what we are doing here and why.
This is and has always been a Project, meaning a constantly changing conversation. From the very start, we have been very clear on this idea: we do not have an absolute answer about male goodness. Our goal has always been to showcase what goodness means through a multitude of different stories. Our mission isn’t about a result; it’s much more about a process. It’s not a theory but a practice.
As such, a few important lessons have been learned though the last days.
We really are not the right format for discussing gender as a theoretical abstraction. The fight for men’s rights, and the debate about feminist doctrine, are not our mission. Our mission is about the stories and the specifics of manhood in the 21st century. That doesn’t mean we won’t comment from time to time on things like The End of Men, but our bread and butter has been—since our founding— stories about individual men, their lives, and the unique ways in which they strive to be good fathers, husbands, sons, and men.
A crucial concept here is “goodness.” While unafraid to talk about just about anything–certainly including situations where men have behaved badly–we take the view that the way to a modern view of manhood that is nuanced and constructive is by celebrating the myriad of ways in which men have looked deeply in the mirror and risen to the challenge of goodness. That doesn’t mean sticking our head in the sand. It means going into prison, into war, into the realm of lust and telling stories that break the cliche of what it means to be a man and replaces those superficial articulations with the truth as experienced one man at a time.
We have taken the big tent approach to our conversation. We have tried to tackle even the most challenging topics, from sex trafficking to race, and allowed anyone with an opinion to comment. Part of what this last week has taught us is that to have a substantive discussion about what it means to be a good man, even at the granular level of an individual story, we have to enforce conduct that is civil and respectful both in terms of the writing we publish and the commenters who get through our filters and appear on our site. As a result, a group of our writers are now coming up with a new commenting policy and approval process that will insure that all feel safe in engaging in the conversation and civil constructive dialogue enforced.
We will continue to be the place to read in-depth writings from all walks of manhood, to talk about the impact of those stories, and to celebrate men at their best, in every way they come.
We hope you will join us in that effort.