The HuffPost Live topic was “Masculinity Now,” a promising, if broad, subject. Hosted by Ricky Camilleri, the interview featured Prof. Michael Addis, writer Eric Garland, Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, and me. There were several thoughtful points made in the discussion, particularly by Prof. Addis and Eric Garland, who offered critical takes on the forms of masculinity valued by society. Ricky referenced one of my current projects, “The Dangerous Fragility of Men,” in which I examine how the loss of unearned privilege can produce profound discomfort and despair in some men. Instead of accepting and learning from the newfound vulnerability that accompanies large shifts in social norms, these men respond with anger and violence.

A few minutes into the discussion, McInnes began yelling and insulting the other panelists, mocking the idea of men taking care of children and of women pursuing careers. What made his meltdown interesting, as opposed to merely irritating, was the naked fear and vulnerability in his voice and on his face. McInnes didn’t just provide a textbook example of the emotional weakness that so often underlies masculine swagger; he also provided an illustration of what it looks like to focus on the wrong target. McInnes sounded genuinely miserable and trapped when he talked about men having to be breadwinners to feed their families, and yet he directed his anger at people who do not conform to gender roles instead of examining the restrictiveness of the status quo. This is regrettable, because the dissatisfaction and anxiety so often produced by rigid gender roles is real and worth discussing. Relentless, baseless policing of gender roles undermines society and individual welfare, and that is a target that deserves our anger. 

Read more about the discussion here

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