Ep 40: Ally Fogg/ People not Labels

Do we have a problem when politicians such as Justin Trudeau and Theresa May call themselves feminist? Especially if they back policies which in their root cause are anti-feminist? And the other big one, does feminism truly lead to a liberation of traditional masculinity? Or does it just critique? And if it just critiques, where does that lead the men who want to find their own masculinity?

Ally Fogg, writer for The Guardian and many other publications, has been asking these questions for years. And not only that has worked to push the UK government for a more gender inclusive language when they talk about issues like violence.  We spoke in the summer a little after the many terrorist attacks in the UK, which we get a chance to speak about, and we also talk about the dangers of labels, especially on politicians.

I would encourage you to check out Ally’s fight with the UK government in the role of mislabelling male victims of abuse over at his blog. I would also encourage you to check out one of his latest posts about stopping men being violent through the lens of Raewyn Connell. Asking instead the question “why does society value violent men?” which makes it hard for men to walk away from violence.

This episode of Modern Manhood is brought to you by the Edmonton Community Foundation which is host to the Well Endowed Podcast, check out their new episode with the one and only, George Takei

I will also be speaking at the upcoming Rad Dad’s event called The Summit. Check out Rad Dads on Instagram and Twitter if you want to come.

Modern Manhood is a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB

Ep 39: Andrew Paul/The Powerful Women Who Shape Your Life

All of those times I changed my career path, they really gnawed at my question of identity. What was I supposed to be? What am I supposed to give out to the world? And it also answered the question that the path for a career, even for yourself was never in a straight line. We’re lucky if that happens.

Andrew Paul faced the same questions of identity. But Andrew is quick to say that his story is not singular, and it is actually helped along with the many fantastic powerful women in his life. We also ask what kind of man am I if I’m not doing my passion?  Who shapes our passions? And who questions them?

You can find more about the Well-Endowed Podcast and the Edmonton Community Foundation here.

The podcast I Don’t Get It is back too!

Desmond Cole is our Man of The Hour, and you can find out the store of Beverley Braham here.

Ep 38: Kristian Basaraba/Punk Rock Fatherhood

Kristian Basaraba grew up on punk rock, and his idols were punk rock singers. But he didn’t play or he didn’t sing, but he still wanted to do something punk rock. Being a dad he saw didn’t look punk rock, so Kristian has injected a bit of it to the Dad movement.

raddadHe paired up with a local designer (Nigel Hood)and created a skull and hearts logo to make Rad Dads, a chapter of a group down in the states of positive, active fathers wanting to create a network of empowered dads in the community. Why did he want to do it though? What brought him to a place of saying I want to build something cool for my son and for other little kids? And why dads?

Well his story has heartbreak and lessons learned, and his story should be heard.

Check out Rad Dad Edmonton on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

On this episode we talk about Robert Webb of Mitchell and Webb fame, and his fight against traditional gender normative, especially as a man.

You can find more awesome podcasts at AlbertaPodcastNetwork.com, support for Modern Manhood comes from ATB and on this episode The Edmonton Community Foundation

 

Episode 37: Carl Landra/Can Hockey Players Be Idols?

How we as men here in Canada, especially in Alberta, view hockey players is right at the top of the masculinity hierarchy. This has been ingrained to us since we’re kids. And I can say even as adults we admire these players to what they can be, and look to them to be examples of leaders, to show us perseverance, resiliency, and humbleness. So hockey players have a distinct role to play in how Canadian men act and behave, so the question then becomes, are these men doing a good job?To try to answer these questions, I invited Carl

To try to answer these questions, I invited Carl Landra who runs The 4th Line Podcast and also part of the Alberta Podcast Network. And we take some time to talk about issues like LGBTQ representation in the NHL, Domestic Violence with players, and questions like does the NHL care about players being idols to kids.

Music By:

 

 

Episode 36: Carolyn Petit from “Feminist Frequency”/Discrimination and Masculinity in Video Game Media

Today we’re going to continue our exploration of things “nerdy.”  by talking about video games. And to help us, I invited Carolyn Petit who is the managing editor for Feminist Frequency. Now you might have heard of Feminist Frequency because of it’s executive director Anita Sarkeesan who was a prominent player in Gamergate. But besides this whole mess, I was more interested in how an almost male dominated platform as video games has effects in masculinity.

How we see ourselves in this monster of a medium, in which many boys partake in, and how we can work to show a more wholesome narrative. Carolyn not only has experience in critique of these platforms, she’s also worked at GameSpot.com and is herself a transgendered woman. And we get a chance to talk about all of this.

You can find Carolyn and Feminist Frequency here:

Modern Manhood is proud to be part of the Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB

The music for this episode is by:

“Deconstructing the Clubhouse” by Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc

**In the last episode of Modern Manhood, we talked to Brandon about why there is a gate keeping attitude within the comic industry. Little did I know that Brandon has talked about this before and at length, and because I think a lot of people might want to hear the full story, I asked if we could reproduce this piece here on the webiste. So this is Reproduced with permission from Danica and Brandon*

When we decided to start Variant Edition, we were very mindful about how owners of small businesses often curate the experience of being in the store – especially in a store’s infancy. When it comes to places that cater to perceived niche markets, that curation can often become intentionally (or unintentionally) exclusionary, with the culture edging towards the strict confines of audiences such as they’ve existed for years. This quickly becomes problematic when you’re attempting to work within an industry that was formed with a largely white male audience in mind.

When dealing with entertainment media in general, the content has always skewed heavily male – and lately, there’s (finally) been some pushback against this culture. People are starting to question why there’s a need to quantify the difference between the concepts of “comics” and “comics for women” – and they’re following that line of questioning to a natural conclusion: why that qualification effectively “others” an entire gender.

This isn’t anything that’s limited to gender either. The late, great Dwayne McDuffie famously spoke of a “Rule of Three” – which plied to comic industry’s quickness to label a comic as “black” if there were more than three black characters on a team, or in the story. McDuffie noted that this wasn’t always a malicious label, but one that people ascribed to books without much thought. The majority of the book’s cast could still be white, but for the larger public, it would be something different, something other. The same occurs with books or movies with largely female casts, or forms of media that feature anyone other than a white male as the lead. Suddenly, it’s not a comic, it’s something outside of an actively accepted norm.

This “othering” can get a lot harsher within the comic book industry because of the way it has evolved. When the medium first formed, it was found everywhere – the funny pages in newspapers, on newsstands, easily accessible for the masses. For a time, this public accessibility made for an environment where there were comics for absolutely everyone – although given the prejudices of the time, comics for women were largely about teen feelings, romance, or domestic life – and comics for non-white people were fairly ghettoized altogether. As the industry evolved over the years, various content restrictions and societal pressures whittled the core audience into a niche. When fears that adult comics would make their way into the hands of children caused a crackdown on content, the entire medium took on the roll of a childish sibling to that of television, books and movies. It’s a connotation that remains today, and has often been applied to those who would read comics – a childish medium for childish people.

Much of this started to change with the emergence of specialty comic shops and the direct market in the 70s and 80s. Despite the childish connotations, groups of people (rightfully) found entertainment within the pages of comics that bloomed far into adulthood. With disposable income in hand, many sought to collect comics, and the industry adapted to this audience, first building spaces for them to find products, and then building products to suit this more adult audience. For the comic industry, this was both a boon, and a curse. While it did offer the medium a lucrative stream of money in the face of the rising costs of production, it was also the moment that literal walls were put in place. A core audience entrenched themselves inside the walls of comic stores. Outside, they were ridiculed for enjoying a childish medium. Inside, they were accepted.

The danger in this should be very clear – when society attempts to other a specific group, the reaction is often (and rightfully) fierce. If you read comics past a certain age, or spent a second too long indulging in the medium, you weren’t perceived as normal. When this happens, supports are formed as coping mechanisms. In this case, comic shops started to take the form of clubhouses, and those within started to become the arbiters. This naturally collided with the patriarchal structure of the medium. The overwhelmingly white male lead series begot an overwhelmingly white male audience who identified with the characters. Attempts to push out of this realm were either largely tone-deaf, or designed to also appeal to the already existing base. This would lead to product that didn’t seem to connect with the audience, the core rejecting something they didn’t connect with, and anyone outside the core lacking the content or the means to connect. This would in turn lead comic publishers to focus on the existing audience with their product line, which would lead to the further entrenching of this specific audience.

Of course, since the formation of the direct market, things changed again. The digital age once again brought about wider access to the medium through web comics and digital copies. With the structure in place to work around walled off comic shops, you now find an increased focus on reaching the audiences who were excluded from the old clubhouse structure. With the means to reach a wider audience in place, projects that appeal to the audience outside of the old structure have started to get traction, and the medium has been reacting to that – though not without severe growing pains.

Having spent years talking about how the medium needs more respect, the existing clubhouse structure is bristling at the ways in which that respect is being earned. As more diverse characters are introduced to the fictional landscape, the core is clawing at what was once only theirs. Some of the uglier bits of this community have gone so far to ply the terms “feminizing” and “blackwashing”, illustrating clearly how out of depth they are in dealing with othering. While women and people of different races or sexual orientations have been treated as others in ways that more often than not affect their basic human rights, white males have had very little experience with not always having what they have been basically given – and the reaction can often be childish.

That’s not to say that the entire core audience is like this – for the most part, most individuals are open to listen and grow and change, while a select few bristle and dig in their heels while making a lot of noise. It’s not so much about the individual, but the built structure as a whole. While open to change, many people are afraid of it, and when dealing with a structure that’s supporting an entire medium, change can be slow moving or stagnant. It’s easy to see where we need to be, but there will always be those who stop and wonder if everything might fall apart trying to get there. Fear takes over, and the gears gum up. People start yelling their opinions about what direction to go, or whether things need to be going in any direction at all. That’s always going to be the case – but as always, there’s things that can be done by individuals that can help.

Almost everyone wants people to like the things that they do. It’s part of the human condition. We like comics. When we find other people who enjoy comics, that makes us happy. We can talk with them and connect. When othering occurs during this process of connection – when it becomes an “us vs. them” thing – that’s when everything breaks down. Pointing fingers and digging trenches does nothing to further a cause. Nobody has been swayed to the other side of an argument when their opinions or feelings aren’t at least treated with a modicum of respect.

Working on the business has provided us with a deeper understanding of this point. While we always believed that comics can and should be for everyone, it became swiftly apparent that action was needed, in addition to words. With the structure still taking baby steps outwards to accommodate a larger audience, it doesn’t serve to be complacent. Ordering can’t occur without thought. When we go through the order book, and when we put together events, we try to do so mindful of what those orders and events say. For example, if there’s a company that produces books that almost exclusively feature women contorted into nightmarish “sexy” poses, there’s a high chance we will not be hand selling those comics. We will order them for anyone who wishes to read them, because we respect everyone’s right to their own opinion and taste, but actively stocking those books on the shelf or talking customers into buying those books enforces old, outdated structures.

In being mindful of the product that we offer, and the way in which we offer it, we’re hoping to do our part in getting this medium into the hands of as many people as possible. It can be done without shaming, and should be done without shaming. Your taste is as valid as someone else’s, and that simple statement of fact and purpose allows for mediums and stories you love and enjoy to be experienced by more and more people without unconsciously building walls and limitations – and while there will always be those who will kick and fight and froth for their right to keep their precious things to themselves, they will inevitably be left behind, stuck to the ground while the structure, slow moving as it can be, leaves them behind.

by Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc

Episode 35: Brandon Schatz/Comics, Introverts, and Wonder Woman

Wonder Women came out in May, and along with it came a wake of good feelings, well wishes, and empowerment among women superhero lovers. Now of course, with anything involving geeky fandoms and women, the trolls came out. First it was whining about the all female screening of Wonder Woman in Texas, and then the just souring of the movie as some sort of “propaganda tool.”

Not only that we see it not just with women characters, but also any characters that don’t fit the white male archetype. I’m thinking of Squirrel Girl, Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel, and Black Panther. Why do men, specifically white men, get so riled up with the diversity this industry needs?

Well I brought in a lived experience expert, Brandon Schatz, co-owner of Varient Edition comics here in Edmonton. He’s got expert knowledge as to why males behave this way, and it has a lot to do with the history of the matter, he’s also indirectly lived the sexism when opening his store with his wife Danica. Besides that we’re also going to talk about his own life as a business owner, his life as an introvert who helps other introverts, and why he puts his money where his mouth is.

Question of the Episode: What was the coolest, most selfless thing another man has done for you? Send me your anwsers at @modernmanpod

You can find Brandon’s store Varient Edition at 10132 – 151 Street NW, Edmonton, AB or online at varientedition.com

You can find brandon on twitter @soupytoasterson please send all geeky questions to him! He knows a lot!

You can check out more Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB at albertapodcastnetwork.com