What will we be talking about? What do we write about? We’re glad you asked.
The Good Men Project is a community site. We have over 350 contributors who believe in what we do: namely that we are fostering an international conversation about men and goodness in the 21st century.
We currently publish about 50 posts per week. Anyone who has a thoughtful submission that relates to our brand and mission will be considered for publication.
Twice per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have topics where we encourage multiple submissions. Past editorial topics have included the following: Race, Class, Spirituality, Prison, Male Lust, Male Guilt, Men Are Funny, Women’s Obsession with Beauty, Over 50, Rape and Sexual Violence, The End of Gender, and Male Heartbreak.
We encourage everyone in our community to send us topics that might be of interest. Please email publisher Lisa Hickey with ideas: [email protected]
What do we write about when nothing is scheduled?
The Good Men Project explores manhood in the 21st century from unexpected angles, using a combination of first-person narratives, debates over provocative topics, personal essays, thought experiments and reported pieces. The idea is to find the goodness and strength in manhood that seems, somehow, to have been lost, at least in the public discourse and culture. That doesn’t mean we shy away from the very real challenges of being a man these days—whether as a father, partner, son, friend or worker—but it does mean that we are interested in seeing men for who they really are in all their diversity. We aim to foster a frank and honest conversation that doesn’t attempt to come to one monolithic view of manhood or goodness but strives to talk about the things that have gone unspoken and threaten to drag us all down together.
Marriage/Relationship: Most men want love and to be loved intimately. They want to be good husbands. But many men struggle with exactly how. We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of how and why men struggle with intimacy and what they can do about it. We talk about gay love and straight love, marriage and divorce, and the ways that men and women are just missing each other. And how they are connecting, deeply and with fulfillment.
Sex/Porn/Sex Trade: Common wisdom is that men think with their dicks. That may not be far off given the stats on porn in our country. But where other magazines basically jump on the bandwagon, from SI to VF, we stop to talk about the different shades of gray in the sex industry. We try to speak openly and honestly about what it means to have a sexually fulfilling relationship. We provide the space for an ex-Playboy bunny to tell her story right alongside a prostitute who happens to think most of her Johns are good guys. The idea isn’t to shy away from sex but to talk about it in a thoughtful, non-dogmatic, and unexpected way that allows the tough questions—“is the epidemic of boob jobs a good or bad thing?”—to be answered with depth and many different equally valid voices.
Fatherhood Many men say that being a father is the only thing they know is important in their lives. Many men also say that they didn’t have the dad they wish they did (while some certainly do). The bond of man to his child, and especially father to son, is something that we want to take the time to highlight whether in the changing role to more SAHDs, to working fathers who just are trying to figure out how to be more present with their kids. Fatherhood is being redefined in the 21st century as more and more men are taking on things beyond the “traditional” role of father. Let’s talk about what those changes are, and how they are impacting both men and their families.
Work Freud said there is love and work. For men, work has always played a key role in defining us. But what happens when we are in economic disarray? When we value being a husband and father ahead of our work lives? How do we find meaning in our work without it consuming us? Or how about those men who still see their mission in their work as the defining characteristic of their goodness, whether a life saving doctor or war zone photojournalist?
Prison: There are over two million men locked up in this country, nearly half of them black. Rather than fix broken education system, growing inequities of wealth, and stagnant class mobility we’ve decided to just lock guys up. Yes, crimes have been committed. But what does this say about us as a people? What does it say about manhood? Are there stories of redemption that shed light on a way out of this mess? Go into any prison and spend time with the men inside and you will come back convinced that courage and goodness and human misery all present even amongst those that are supposedly the worst of the worst.
War/Violence/Conflict: We live in a culture that still defines manhood as being dominant with the ability to violently defend what is yours. America is currently fighting two of the longest wars in history, even after electing a President who ran on a peace platform. The war zone is ironically one of the few places that men can show open love for one another. On the home front, however, our boys consume ever more MMO games that are intensely violent. We prefer ultimate fighting to boxing these days. Our NFL heroes are committing suicide by shooting themselves in the heart to preserve their brains for science to try to understand why they have done such grave damage to themselves in the violence of the game. Is violence synonymous with manhood? Is there a way to use the testosterone-fueled energy to non-violent ends that are more productive? Or are we a people that needs to bomb others to prove who’s boss?
Courage The Good Men Project started as a series of 31 first person essays about a life changing moment in each man’s life. And in a way that is still the heart and soul of what this aspires to be. That moment when you wake up, look in the mirror and have no f*cking idea who you are or what just happened to you. It might have been a death, an addiction, a job loss, a war, or mental illness. A moment when everything changed because the sleep-walking was over and something real, something you no longer could ignore as much as you would like to, became clear. Those are the stories that inspire, the guts of what it means to be a good man, a man of true courage. And when we write about race, or class, or sports, or marriage or sexual orientation or fatherhood, the aim is to write from that POV. Those pivotal moments when manhood is so real and true, and f*cking painful, that no one can say it’s not. And everyone who reads it is changed by the reading.
Education: The statistics are clear that boys are falling behind at every level of education. So this is a men’s issue for sure. But it’s also a national crisis of epic proportions. One could argue that it’s the most important national issue bar none. We have a dual track education system with the few getting excellent private education, and the majority getting a sub-par public education. This means the majority of Americans, and particularly men, are falling further and further behind the privileged few and frankly the rest of the world. At the upper end, there is an extreme focus on grades and getting into the right college, while for the rest the chance of getting out of high school reading at grade level, or making it through college, is almost non-existence. Layer on race and the numbers only get worse. If we expect there NOT to be riots we have to do something about this trend. America was supposed to be the land of opportunity. It simply is not anymore, especially for men. And on a more personal level — what can men do to remain involved in their children’s education in hands-on, tactical ways that go beyond showing up at PTA meetings or helping their kids with homework?
Addiction: Many men suffer from addictions—from sex to coke to gambling. The addictive personality is actually a double-edged sword. It helps us succeed in certain limited ways. The addictive personality is that guy who will blow through brick walls not only to get his fix, but build a company or create the most amazing piece of art. It’s tunnel vision. But the pain and suffering involved in addiction to both the addict, and those he loves and love him, is undeniable. It limits the ability to be good at anything other than the most narrowly defined ways because addiction is fundamentally a disease of lying. The addict lies to himself and then everyone else at pretty much everything. So dealing with addiction often requires what is called a “complete psychic change,” whereby the addict learns to become rigorously honest about themselves, and their world. These guys—the active addicts, the ones in recovery, and the ones hanging around a world filled with such addictive personalities—are all ripe for discussion of what the hell it means to be a man, a good man. And it’s not the endless cover story about Tiger or Arnold or Charlie. It’s what happens after the fall we are interested in.
Mental Illness: Men struggle to admit that they suffer from profound mental illness, from depression to outright insanity of various forms. Yet it’s a topic that is just there under the surface. Not to diminish stories of addiction, but we hear less about mental illness than we do addicts (some studies show 60% of addicts also suffer from mental illness separate from their addiction). Suicide, or suicidal thoughts are the most extreme form of this. Men in the army—as well as men coming home from war with traumatic brain injury are hit very hard. So too are boys who are gay and those struggling with issues around sexuality.
Sports: Like porn, sports is a category that already gets a boatload of media ink. We aren’t interested in covering the mainline sports from a traditional POV. What we are looking for is the story behind the story that speaks to the underlying issues of manhood in the 21stcentury. Gay football players, the impact of steroids on masculinity, the big time player who comes back from addiction, sports that are not as popular as they might be but speak to some aspect of manhood and shed light on the bigger issues of The Good Men Project in a new light. The way sports impact our boys and connect us to them as fathers. The corrupting influence of money and fame, magnified in huge proportions to represent super-manhood — a fantasy destined for a fall. Why do we hold these men up to that standard? Why, as men, do we spend so much time following sports that have no objective meaning? Is it a vocabulary that allows us to show love for each other without feeling like queers? Why can’t we talk about real stuff the way we talk about fantasy football?
Faith/Religion: “Good” is a very loaded word. It implies morality and may imply some sense of piety. Many men in our times look to some form of faith or religion to inform their own struggle to find goodness in themselves. Yet religion is also the flash point for huge change and conflict in America and around the globe. We want to explore the range of those who are Believers, those who use faith in a more general sense, along with avowed atheists. The point is to tell stories where faith and religion intersect with manhood in some specific and profound way, either positively or negatively.
Politics: We spent a lot of time last fall coming up with a list of 10 politicians who are “good” men independent of party or stated position. The motive was simple — politics are important. And the way that politics affect men and men affect politics is important. We’d like to offer up stories of men who lead here in America and around the globe, those who attempt to do good in the world independent of party blinders.
Race: Tom Matlack writes: “We recently published a handful of stories about race that started out as my reflections of travelling to Africa and experiencing being white in a black land for once. It turned out mine was the least viewed and the least significant of the stories that appeared on the topic of race. With a million black men behind bars, the education and wealth statistics, and the reality of a more subtle form of racism than faced the 1960s era Civil Rights Movement, we all seem to be resistant to talk about race AGAIN. Yet, there it is. I was involved in a theatrical performance by black actors educating the audience about one of the worst racial incidents in our country’s history. It was picketed by black people as being too controversial. That’s a problem.”
Class: As highlighted by the Occupy movement and media, the top 1% control as much wealth as the bottom 70% combined. Class issues threaten to rip our country apart. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting a lot poorer. Sales at Walmart are down because the average guy in middle America can’t afford to shop there anymore. We would like to continue the discussion about the impact of class and wealth on each of our attempt to find our way to being good men.
Gender: The issue of what it means to be male and female in our culture turns up in pretty much everything we do and say. When we talk about what it means to be a man, to be macho, to be a husband and dad, we really can’t do that without doing it in the context of what it means to be a woman. We don’t believe having the sexes be equal but identical is the answer, at least not for most people. We want to talk about how we can be both different and equal. How, in fact, our differences as men and women allow us to help each other out.
Sexual Orientation: Gay, straight, bi-sexual, transsexual, pansexual, transgender. We want to be actively inclusive of how sexual orientation helps us define ourselves as men. Fresh perspectives on how open-mindedness around sexual orientation help us all. We want to include stories of gay men who are getting married, having kids, writing books, living their lives and defining what it means for them to try to do the right thing.
Arts/Entertainment: The issues of manhood are increasingly reflected in the art, books, and film/TV of our time. We want to cover those works that speak deeply to what it means to be a man, and a good man, from a blues singer to a gay African American painter to “Men of a Certain Age” to the haunting photographs of war by Michael Kamber and the late Tim Hetherington.
Pop Culture: If you look at what is popular by pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable you often find answers to what is really going on culturally. These stories also have the advantage of a common language and focal point. Lady Gaga has something to say about manhood as does pretty much every other pop culture icon. We’d like to dig deeply into the work of these pop culture figures, as they wax and wane, to bring resonance and meaning to how we might be understand our role as men.
Want to contribute? Here’s how:
Submit Here: Includes submission guidelines.
Want to be on our weekly Evangelist Email that comes out every Friday? (Includes pageview counts of the most popular posts of the week, upcoming content ideas and social media hints and tips.) Email [email protected]
Questions are always welcome.
Photo by Joe Lanman / Flickr