Justin Baldoni’s “Man Enough” Tackles Toxic Masculinity So Well, All Men Should Watch It

by Sarah C. Epstein

Just when you’d written off all men as mansplainers and ignoramouses and were growing weary of trying to teach them, to no avail, about woes of toxic masculinity, Justin Baldoni’s new web series, Man Enough, may just give you new hope. 

Trying to join the ranks of Oprah, Ellen, and the cast of The View as a talk show host, the Jane The Virgin star uses roundtable discussions, interviews, and intimate talks with his dad to exlplore topics ranging from men’s aversion to vulnerability, to porn, to fatherhood, to men’s health, to body image issues. As Baldoni explained in an interview with Variety, “Our culture has taught men that they need to be strong, confident, and stoic and that emotions are a sign of weakness. Men in our society have been socialized to suppress their feelings. We want to challenge men to open up and be okay talking to each other.”

In each episode, Baldoni sits down to an intimate dinner with a group of five other men, moderating as they discuss problems with traditional masculinity. There are only three episodes out so far, with a fourth in the works that, from its title, “Man Enough: #MeToo,” will discuss sexual assault and consent. 

The show’s content is based on Baldoni’s own journey to “understand the duality of my my own masculinity,” he told Variety. It’s targeted towards male viewers, and its aim, using men to teach other men about toxic masculinity, is unlike any other media currently in the mainstream. The men’s conversations about their insecurities, inner-battles with masculinity, and the societal cost of it all seem unscripted, and are surprisingly touching; at its core, the show is a snapshot of men trying to undress the complexities of gender, class, race, sex, love, and so forth. Sometimes it takes them a while to get at the larger picture, but overall it’s smart and on point. 

While many women and other woke folks might shake their heads as they watch, muttering to themselves that this is the stuff they’ve been saying to men (and society at large) for years and wondering why no one has been listening to them, Baldoni’s show still comes as a welcome relief: It takes the burden off of women to have to teach men how to unlearn oppressive behaviors. Because, you know, women have enough on their plate already — as we struggle with the consequences of misogyny, violence, and sexism everyday — and shouldn’t have to bear the emotional, mental (and sometimes physical) cost of deprograming men’s toxic behaviors.

For anyone that hates toxic masculinity,but loves men and isn’t quite ready to give up on them, you’ll want to check out the episodes here. Or, more likely, you’ll want to pass it on to a man of your choosing so he can broaden his feminist education.

top photo from Man Enough

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