Encouraging Growth One Conversation at a Time
By: Monica Ahuja
“Real men don’t cry.” “Boys will be boys.” “Man up!” “Be a real man!”
These are only some of the phrases that young children hear into adulthood and old age.
But why can’t real men cry? What does it mean to be a man?
How can a person “man up?” And why should they?
Why is being a man or a boy an excuse for a certain behavior? How can someone be “Man Enough” let alone a “real man?”
Actor, filmmaker, writer, and producer Justin Baldoni, who many of you may recognize from the show “Jane the Virgin,” found himself on a journey in which he grapples with the impact of the ideas society has instilled within him, and he faces the concepts of masculinity, privilege, and patriarchy.
He realized that people have become facades of their truest selves to conform to “scripts” that they have been given by society. As Baldoni works to come to terms with his impact, attempts to grow, and discovers his true self, he invites others to do the same.
Baldoni’s viral TED Talk, “Why I’m done trying to be ‘man enough,’” received a range of responses. The overwhelming feedback to the talk spurred the release of his book and podcast.
On the podcast Baldoni states that a lot of women reached out to him after the release of his Ted Talk. From men, Baldoni states, much of the public response was unwelcoming.
However, in private, Baldoni learned, many men feel the same as him; they seek ways to be vulnerable and surpass this “invisible barrier,” as Baldoni states on the podcast, that prevents them from being their true selves and allows them to hurt the people that they love.
Amid the pandemic Baldoni wrote a book called “Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity.” This year he began a podcast with the same name to learn how to “undefine masculinity” and to learn through conversation.
He co-hosts the podcast with producer, writer, activist, and journalist Liz Plank, and musician, composer, and Grammy winner Jamey Heath.
On the “Man Enough” podcast Baldoni invites guests such as Karamo Brown, Shawn Mendes, Glennon Doyle, Eugenio Derbez, Alok Vaid-Menon, Lil Rel Howery, Rain Wilson, Andy Grammer, and Jay Shetty. He also invites his wife, Emily Baldoni, and father, Sam Baldoni, to speak on the podcast.
The co-hosts also take time to share their stories and journeys.
In these conversations Baldoni and his co-hosts create a safe space and allow their guests to speak vulnerably with open hearts and minds. They sometimes have difficult and uncomfortable conversations but encourage their listeners to sit through their discomfort.
A range of perspectives and points of views appear on the podcast. Patriarchy, self-worth, masculinity, abuse, sexual violence, self-image, racism, sexism, substance abuse, conformity, feminism, allyship, parenting, religion, faith, hope, growth, and compassion are only some of the topics that are discussed on the podcast.
After thoughtful and reflective conversations between the co-hosts and their guests, the discussion closes with a few rapid-fire questions. The last question is usually “What does it mean to be man enough?” or “What does it mean to be enough?”
Lastly, when their guest departs, the three co-hosts take time to reflect on the conversation. They talk about what they learned, what they enjoyed, what they disliked, how they felt, and speak about moments that they found to be poignant.
There are moments of deep reflection, tears, happiness, anger, laughter, discomfort, and awe during the podcast. A whole range of emotions are experienced by the hosts and guests, and the listeners are subject to the same experience.
The episodes typically last a little over an hour. The podcast can be found on Spotify, YouTube (along with video), Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Audacy, as well as on the “Man Enough” website.
If you enjoy listening to open, honest, and respectful conversations about growth and humanity, the podcast is worth a listen. So, are you willing “to do the hard work of heart work?”