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Three Men Redefining What It Means To Be a Man

What it means to be a man doesn't have to include violence or aggression. These three men show us exactly what healthy manifestations of masculinity can look like.

three men sitting on a stoop, smiling to the camera
Necko L. Fanning

Necko L. Fanning

Necko is a veteran, LGBT activist, and writer. In addition to his work as a freelancer Necko writes fiction with the purposes of providing strong LGBT and female protagonists to the world. More of his work can be found at neckofanning.com.

When we talk about broad concepts like "redefining masculinity," we aren't referring to some grand action or impossible-to-achieve standards. Instead, we're talking about living in a way in which we can use our manhood productively and for the benefit of ourselves and others. 

These three men are great examples for doing exactly that. They've managed to build their brands on the healthy presentation of masculinity, and are being celebrated for doing so. 

These aren't the "soy boys" that end up being the punchline of someone's joke. They're forces to be reckoned with.

1. Mike Reynolds

Who He Is: Writer, Activist, Podcast Host

What He Does: Encourages father’s to take more active roles in the lives of their children, breaks down the gender stereotypes of parenting, and promotes men as advocates for feminism.

Imagine the world’s best father and then multiply that by ten and you’ve come close to figuring out Mike Reynolds. Father of two and a strong women’s rights activist, Mike Reynolds leads the charge on father’s supporting their daughters with feminist ideology. He does this with an emphasis on involvement as well as breaking down gender roles. Reynolds has been a fixture at “The Good Men Project” for years and currently runs an online shop aimed at selling feminist merchandise for men: “Our feminist t-shirt line also speaks to the emotional side of men and how we shouldn't feel limited in the way we display our masculinity. Masculinity is gentle, femininity is strong.” In other words, Mike Reynolds isn’t just talking about why masculinity needs to change but is actually living it.

2. David M. Mayer

Who He Is: Associate Professor of Management and Organizations Area at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

What He Does: Teaches with an emphasis in workplace diversity and behavioral ethics, writes about the workplace effects of deviating from traditionally masculine expressions, and advises companies on making positive changes.

As with most things there is a theoretical side to conversations about masculinity and then there is a practical side. David. M. Mayer brings all those theories and conversations about social issues down from their high academic towers and packages them for application at companies. His recent article with the Harvard Business Review “How Men Get Penalized for Straying from Masculine Norms” gives concrete examples of toxic masculinity at work. But rather than leaving it there, Mayer takes it a step further and explains the negative affects of each of these penalties.

3. Caleb Roehrig

Who He Is: Former Actor turned Television Producer and Writer, and YA Author with LGBTQ+ books like “White Rabbit” and “Death Prefers Blondes”.

What He Does: Writes fiction which normalizes LGBTQ+ characters and breaks down gender/masculinity stereotypes.

This wouldn’t be BlakeWrites if we didn’t try to plug one of our book suggestions in somewhere. So, if you haven’t read “Death Prefers Blondes”—and there’s a chance you haven’t because it just came out—then stop what you’re doing and get to your nearest bookstore. Why’s this book so amazing, you might ask? Simple; it’s like “Ocean’s 11” with teen drag queens, has a strong female lead, and doesn’t shirk from being proudly queer. Aside from being a great read, Roehrig is at the forefront of emerging authors deviating from LGBTQ+ tropes in fiction and, instead, are normalizing their characters sexuality. We’re not seeing another coming-out story but a book about characters confident in their sexuality, living their best selves.

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