Episode 6: Mike Payne

On today’s show I wanted to explore an area where men I feel are less likely to show their vulnerable side, that’s the cutthroat world of business and finance. Join me as I talk to Mike Payne who is the co-founder of Fancy (thisisfancy.ca), a company that helps startups brand and market in Saskatoon and in Calgary.

He’s helped many start-ups get off the ground with his work in marketing, and also found a home for them to work under. He’s a young millennial with a good heart, strong values, and as you will hear, a general quote machine. He’s been a speaker at countless of places, most notably TedX in Saskatoon, and I was lucky to speak with Mike not just about the business world, and their views on vulnerability, but his own views on gender stereotypes, brotherhood, and his father. Listen below:

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If you want to be on the podcast, email me at modernmanhoodpodcast@gmail.com

Episode 5: Ryan Valley

We’re very lucky today to have one of the founders of Men Edmonton, Ryan Valley, and the powerful story he shares about his path today as a well rounded man. Just a warning, it might be triggering for some (abuse), but it’s a rewarding listen. I encourage everyone to do so:

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If you want to be a guest on the show please email me at modernmanhoodpodcast@gmail.com or on twitter @modernmanpod

If you want to know more about Men Edmonton, please visit the webpage at menedmonton.org

If you want to learn more about resources for fathers, please check out abdad.ca

Orlando

This one I’m kind of reeling still. It’s not just because we lost 50 lives. It’s because of the lives we lost they were mostly:

Latinos.

Males.

Queer.

In singular form, they are populations I care about deeply. Together, they form a community that is marginalized not only in their own country, but in society at large. Not only that, it was another male that did the killing. Another man killing people who are already fighting an upstream battle.

When I started to dig deeper into this story, it became clear to me that this is the reason why I got into the work I do, helping other males in battling this issue of masculinity. Because believe you me, Omar Mateen would’ve never killed anyone if he was in control of his masculinity, and not given in to what others thought of being a man. The more we hear about Mateen, the more I notice his lack of control in the pull of what he wanted to be. A belief system telling him to be one thing in battle with the reality that was happening in his own heart, and the people around him. I would never understand what he had to deal with internally, because making the decision to kill is not something you make lightly. There was obviously something going on mentally for him to make that choice, and having access to weapons to fully embrace that choice is the issue that is plaguing America right now. But I believe the battle that needs to be fought is the battle of toxic masculinity.

People enforcing their views upon others, especially in the form of masculinity, is not a new thing, and especially is not just a north america thing. It’s forms are prevalent throughout the world, funnily enough, in many different variations. I say funny because all these distinct factions of masculinity (ie. How you SHOULD be a man) all claim that their way is the correct way. Be it the macho jock type, be it the radical spiritual type, be it the Men’s Right Activist, etc. The commonality is the way these men respond when they are not comfortable to question those “rules” and see others who break the rules: violence, hate, and oppression. In Canada alone, 83% of reported hate crimes due to sexual orientation, the perpetrator was a man. And it has been shown time and time again that the one causing violence have had history of domestic abuse, and held beliefs on specific “gender roles.” This is not a huge leap to make, the correlation is right there. We not only saw it with Mateen, we saw it with Elliot Rodger, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Cho Seung-Huietc etc etc.

I have no qualms in saying that once we solve this, this problem of toxic male-hood, a lot of the other problems will go away.

Start talking guys, and start listening. The judging, the piss challenge taking, the power struggles, the qualifications of men in comparison to other males, the question of manhood, and the challenge to find “real men” must stop. All men are not from Mars, we’re from the same shared universe as everyone else.

How to Make a Joke

One of the biggest complaints I hear on the internet and in the real world, is that society now has become a place where no one can take a joke. That everyone can take offense to anything, and that people’s careers’ have been affected by what they believe is an innocent joke. Jerry Seinfeld has been quoted that he will not do shows in college campuses anymore because, in his words “they don’t know what they are talking about” when they use words like racist, sexist, etc. Chris Rock won’t go near colleges anymore, neither will Larry the Cable Guy. This seems like a real problem to them, and it’s where we stand in modern society in a nutshell. The people saying the racist, sexist, and problematic words are upset that people are calling out their racist, sexist, and problematic words. Offended that others are offended. So much so that they feel like their “rights” are being violated. A lot of 1st amendment rights talk gets tossed about, funny enough because they’re not using that term correctly either.

I don’t believe this is really a problem. P.C culture is some instances HAS gone too far (for instance blocking media from a public area because of “safe spaces”), but for the most part the current P.C. culture has produced an environment where more and more of us are educated in what is causing institutional racism, sexism, etc. It’s not the outward displays of physical aggression, it’s the language we use, the perception we have of different people, and the stereotypes we push on others and on ourselves. Yeah people can go overboard, but I rather that than the status quo. I rather the pendulum shift on the other side for a bit before we can find a comfortable middle ground where everyone is happy to work together in ending this problem with language.

In the meantime, how does someone make a joke that can push the boundaries, be able to “go there,” without being racist, sexist, etc. I’m going to give you three examples, first from the comedian John Mulaney (he of the Netflix comedy special, and the SNL writer responsible for Stefan). In one of his specials he made a rape joke, but the rape joke was directed not at the victim, but himself. Describing a time where he was walking at night to catch a subway train, and seeing a woman beside her pick up the pace. Thinking that she was running for the train, he starts to pick up his pace too. Then it dawns on him:

“Oh. She’s running from me. In her eyes, I’m an adult. And adults rape each other. Kind of a lot!”

Funny stuff, and it shows two things. One, that the joke never made fun of the woman running away, it was never a condemnation or question as to why that woman would ever run away from John Mulaney, it was his own ignorance that he didn’t realize he looked like a predator in her eyes, and for very good reasons. Two, it highlighted the problem that women face every day, questioning always “is this person good, or will they take advantage of me?” And that a woman has all the right to be cautious.

This type of joke was mirrored in an episode of Master of None, where Aziz Ansari juxtapose a late night walk home of two guys (to the tune of “don’t worry, be happy”) to the scary, nightmarish late night walk home for a woman. Both make sense, both highlight problems with rape culture, and both are funny.

The last example is of the crying Jordan meme in short is the face of a teary eyed Michael Jordan when he is being inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame, inserted into situations where someone is humiliated or has suffered a real loss.

It’s the face of one of the most “masculine” men in the world, in a very vulnerable situation but used not to humiliate him, but to poke fun at an event which could be considered pretty terrible. It’s innocuous because it’s used to make fun at people crying, but kind of showing that crying is alright. Jordan has gone back and forth saying that he hates it, but now likes the meme. The New York Times have said that it’s displays a bit of “flawed masculinity ”:

 “You have a masculine star who expresses vulnerability, and people simultaneously mock and celebrate that.”

I don’t know if I agree with that. Sports have lately been a part where crying and femininity has become a little more commonplace, think Teemu Selanne crying over winning his only Stanley Cup, Kevin Durant crying because he won the MVP (making a new celebratory meme, the “You da real MVP” celebrating his mother), and little Riley Curry stealing the spotlight from his dad, Steph Curry. Think of Russell Westbrook and his colorful eccentric fashion, think of Zlatan Ibrahimovic starting his own fashion label too. Saying that though, we’re still not fully there in modern sports vulnerability but the Crying Jordan meme is not something we can decry (no pun intended).

I firmly believe that vulnerability is a strength in men, and that it should be encouraged and awarded. Crying Jordan doesn’t make fun of crying, it’s a joke that puts a light into what could be for a sports fan, a terrible situation. We can make jokes that are not racist, or sexist. And if you feel you cannot, then change your jokes, make them better. You can be funny without resorting to these stereotypes, and don’t be offended if people call you out on your offensiveness.

Episode 4: Jose Figueroa (the 6th!)

Today’s podcast focuses on the Edmonton born, Vancouver residing, but all world raised, Jose Figueroa. The youth pastor from Vancouver came by to chat about spirituality, what it means to be a man of faith that is conscious about his own fallacies, transitions from city to city, and of course marriage. With this, we try to answer the question, how does spirituality affect your manhood?

We also talk about Make Something Edmonton’s 100in1 Day Project and we chat about the 5 stages of masculinity, which you can find here.

As always, if you live in Edmonton and want to be a part of the change in culture of masculinity, check out MenEdmonton.org . And if you want more masculinity stories, check out my twitter account at @modernmanpod. 

Rejection: The Killer and the Savior

Self-Criticism is the killer of self-compassion, and you know what kills self-compassion the most: rejection. But I have stressed before, and in public, that without rejection we wouldn’t have the great pieces of art in the world. Sometimes, rejection is a blessing in disguise, and what makes spiritual people say “There’s a reason for everything.” You see, when we are rejected, and not necessarily by a loved one, it can be a family member, a friend, a career,  when we’re rejected we tap into a very primal instinct of ours. One of emotional survival, something that is so strong we feel it in our gut. We fear rejection so much that some have taken to not form any strong connections at all, fearing that one day they will be broken. It’s the same fear we have of avoiding climbing tall buildings. But the fear of rejection will never stop rejection.

As males, there’s another barrier we face, the one we face in many different ways, the dreaded gender box. The gender box we’re in tells us that males are not supposed to be weak, that we can handle all, and not cry about it. The only time we should feel vulnerable is when our team loses, or we lose a loved one. Therefore rejection is something we should not worry about if we’re “actual” men.

Depending on how we handle rejection though is what makes us human, even with regards to other social animals. After all, rejection is very much a social problem. Animals can reject another animal completely from their tribe and they would be doomed to death, humans have the ability and privilege to seek out new tribes. Hence connection is the key to surviving rejection. Self-compassion can be the key to withstanding rejection, but vulnerability is the key to self-compassion. Understanding your worth as a person and not just as a man. Self-compassion means understanding your thoughts and not fight your feelings.

The thing is with rejection is that two forms will arise, a person that will reach for a hand or reach for a bottle (or another form of abuse). Great or terrible things can happen after rejection, depending on your scale of self-compassion or self-criticism. Be nice to yourself, you never know, you could make our next great art.