June 9, 2021

Man Enough: Undefining Masculinity

Man Enough: Undefining Masculinity

Our guest is Justin Baldoni. He is the author of "Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity."


"Jane The Virgin" star Justin Baldoni explains how his new book, "Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity," helps readers think outside of the traditional definition of masculinity. 

Baldoni's ultimate goal is to share the connection and joy that can be found for anyone who identifies as male on the journey away from “enough.” A journey instead that is undefined, complex, sensitive, open, and rooted in the connection between the head and the heart.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • What is man enough?
  • What It Really Means to Be Brave
  • How the effects of traditionally defined masculinity have become one of the most prevalent social issues of our time.
  • Strength and vulnerability, female empowerment, relationships and marriage, racial justice, bullying, gender equality, body image, work-life balance, and fatherhood.
  • The Body Issue: From Head to Toe and All Parts Between
  • Raising Children When We're Still Growing Up Ourselves

Resources

Guest Website

Fit Mess Toolkit

 

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Transcript

 

Jeremy: [00:00:00] This is the fit mess conversations with world-class experts in the fields of mental, physical, and emotional health. And this episode,

Justin Baldoni: [00:00:09] I have compassion. An empathy for those fathers who so many of us resent because they were doing their 

best 

and they didn't have the tools. And what they were trying to do was protect us from other men that heard them and from other boys that will hurt us.

Now, here are your hosts, Zach and 

Jeremy: [00:00:31] Jeremy, what does it mean to be man enough? What are the traditional ideals and traits that come to mind? Strong in control stoic. Sometimes the words that are used are worse, even toxic and often whatever words are used, they don't feel quite right to the men trying to define themselves this week.

We're joined by actor, filmmaker, and now author Justin Baldoni. We'll talk about his new book, man enough. Undefining my masculinity and how we can create different visions of masculinity that make room for all kinds of men. This is a topic that, that means a lot to me because in a lot of ways, it's the foundation of this show.

It was the fact that you and I were able to have pretty open and vulnerable conversations about our struggles to, to be healthy, to be happy. That gave us the idea to do this publicly and to share the struggle that is life and trying to take care of yourself. But it is so interesting how there are these really extreme ideas of what masculinity is, what it means to be a man where that comes from how we're raised, uh, and how that really seeps into every aspect of being a man for your entire life.

Yeah. 

Zach: [00:01:47] And not just from the man's perspective, right. There's males and females out there who expect a man to be a certain way. So yeah. It's a lot to live up to when it's just doesn't come naturally. 

Jeremy: [00:02:00] And, and I do want to acknowledge, because I can hear the voice in my own head. I can hear, you know, the, the women and the truly oppressed, uh, people of the world hearing a couple of white guys, uh, middle-aged white guys complaining about how much of a struggle it is to be a man.

I get that. We're talking about this from a point of pretty extreme privilege. However struggle is relative and it is as real for us as other struggle is for other people who have it much worse. So I do want to acknowledge that. However, there are things about being a man that are difficult, um, that at least for me, I, I know it was rooted in my upbringing.

I was raised with a very hardworking, emotionally, relatively unavailable. That kind of stuff. And being in that environment and looking up to a dad who was your BR you're pretty typical tough guy, dad, knowing that wasn't me, I think laid some foundation for not being enough, not being man enough, not being good enough, not being strong enough, all of the things.

And it is funny to look back now and realize there were so many lessons. He was trying to teach me that I was blowing off. Cause they, I didn't identify with being the kind of man he wanted me to be. And it's just interesting how that is something that has followed me my entire life and has led into other issues like imposter syndrome and just generally not feeling like I'm a good enough person.

Good enough, man. All those things where if I had been raised to think how you are, is how you're supposed to be. I think that would have set me up for, uh, a more balanced way of being, I guess. 

Zach: [00:03:39] Mine was mine was kind of similar, but, um, I had a weird situation. My dad was by no means perfect. He was born in 1928, grew up in the depression.

He was 50 when I was born. So like, you know, he was already an older, older guy and he was very set in his ways and, you know, typical guy from first half of the century. But in comparison to my mom, like he was a rock star. Far and above like the bar, the bar that my mom set was like 

Jeremy: [00:04:10] below ground. Yeah. I was going to say it wasn't that he was such a rock star.

It's just, like you said, the, he didn't have the distance, the 

Zach: [00:04:16] distance, the distance between the bottom and okay. Was really far, but yeah, no, he was, it was, it was very similar, right. It was, um, you know, to the point, I remember when I was eight or nine, I was roller skating and I fell and I, I hurt my wrist.

And I went four days of like, you know, my wrist really hurts dad. It really, and he's like, ah, just, you know, put some ice on. You'll be fine. You'll be all right. And after like four days of complaining and he's like, all right, we'll go to the hospital. Well, it turns out my wrist was broken. Right. And that happened again with the other wrist.

It was really interesting. He showed me that to be a man. You had to be. You know, out of touch with your emotions, not vulnerable, mental health was not a thing. You just, you know, you get up, you rub some dirt on it. You, you keep moving. But then later on when he got sick and he was about to die, we started having some really vulnerable conversations.

And I, and when I say really vulnerable, not like you and I having them, they were. Just cutting the edge a little bit, but it was really deep for him and I, and that was like where I really felt I connected with him, which is kind of sad because I only had that for a couple 

Jeremy: [00:05:30] of months. Well, and we should acknowledge too that for our dads and, and I'm not sure of the age gap between them, but for previous generations of dads, there were not bookstores full of information about how to talk to your kids about their feelings and how to get kids to be emotionally intelligent.

Like. It was a different world, both from an emphasis on paying attention to emotions, knowing that they were as critical a thing as we now believe them to be. It just wasn't normal. That wasn't something that guys did. My dad was his, and I know to this day he believes he did what dads do. He went to work, earned the money.

That was his thing. That was his way of contributing as a father. So to compare my knowledge and what I know and what's available to me to his is it's just completely unfair. It doesn't stop me from doing it. It doesn't stop me from judging a lot of the decisions that were made and the impact it had on my life.

But I do have to, in the middle of that sort of internal, mental rage go calm the fuck down. He had a different deal. Like he, he likes to give himself credit for being better than his dad. Cause his dad was a piece of shit and. I to some degree do the same where I'm like, you know, I'm, I'm being a better dad than my dad was to me.

So, so pat myself on the back, but I do have to acknowledge that it, you know, he came from Mars compared to what I'm doing with the information I have available to me. Yeah. 

Zach: [00:07:01] The resources that we have today is incredible. Like it's a, it's a game changer. I mean, there's no, it doesn't surprise me that. The chain of parenting is being broken as, as big as it is right now.

Like there's still a lot of people that aren't interested in actually learning and reading those resources, but you know, you and I are parenting so differently than our parents did. And you know, all my friends, a lot of people, I know they're doing the same thing. So it's, it's really 

Jeremy: [00:07:28] great to see that speaking of the resources, I mean, you know, we're going to get into a really interesting conversation in just a minute about masculinity.

And I've been involved in some online sort of debates or discussions about what masculinity is. Is it toxic inherently and all these things? And there are so many people that are hung up on the, you know, it's a definition. It's, it's just like a number. It, you know, you can't change the definition of something.

Well, first of all, we changed the definition of words all the time. That's a very common occurrence. However, in this case, anyone who's hanging on to the definition of masculinity as their, their root in what it means to be a man. You haven't read the definition because it literally, and then I'm pulling it up right now on the, on the dictionary online.

Zach: [00:08:12] One of those resources that we as dads 

Jeremy: [00:08:13] have access to definition of masculine male, having qualities appropriate to, or usually associated with a man. 

Zach: [00:08:22] All right. So no emotions, right? 

Jeremy: [00:08:24] Nothing, not only that having qualities appropriate to, or usually associated with a man. That is open to evolution that is open to change.

That is something that the five characteristics of being a man are not there in the definition. So you can hang on to your definition, but it's not that one. Yeah. And I just think it's important. Here's what I know. Anytime that I have not been open to change that I've not been open to another perspective to another way of seeing the world.

I've caused myself struggle and heartache and difficulty holding on to things and holding onto your beliefs and holding onto these ideas that are taught to us and, and are sort of forced upon us, closes you off from a broader perspective and a broader experience in your life. And so I would challenge anyone.

Who's hearing this and going, oh, this isn't, that's not what it means to be a man. That's not manly enough. That's not masculine. You're hanging on to something that is going to cause struggle for you. So I would hope that you would open yourself up to the idea that, that what you believe it is to be a man, may be something else.

Well, 

Zach: [00:09:36] and also think about it this way, what it is to be a man could include all the things that we include as being a man. But what we're talking about. Is adding things to it, opening your mind to additional things, right? You can still be all of those things. You can still be strong. You can still earn the money.

You can write, you can do all that stuff. You can still be manly in that way, but there's a whole nother side. That's going to allow you to grow as a human being as a person, to be a better dad, to be a better husband, to be a better whatever to whoever you are. Right. It's just adding things and opening up to new experiences.

Jeremy: [00:10:17] And that is a great place to get into our interview. We had the opportunity to talk with Justin. Baldoni a lot of people know him from his role on Jane the Virgin. However, I know him as the author of. Man enough, undefining my masculinity. We had a fantastic conversation about all of these things, where we get our ideas about masculinity, why they are so difficult to live with and how to sort of change your own relationship with the word and what it means to be a man.

Justin Baldoni: [00:10:47] Yeah. I think it started for me where it starts for most of us young boys, which is as a young boy. You know, growing up in America, I remember being socialized, but I didn't know it was, I didn't know what socialization was. I honestly didn't even know what socialization really was probably until, you know, five years ago, because he grew up, you know, you don't really think about socialization, right?

You don't really, uh, It's not something that is ever present in our minds. We're just consuming. We're consuming, we're consuming, we're taking things in and we're learning, but we're never taught to actually question what we're learning, where it comes from or why. So growing up, I remember distinct feelings.

Of wanting to say something, wanting to be a certain way, wanting to feel or to cry or to, you know, to, to just be, and having a part of me say, no, you can't do that. You can't be that way. There'll be a consequence if you do that. Um, don't say that don't let them see that. Don't let them see that. Don't tell her that right there.

There was just this, like it's. It's this constant, it's this barrage of, uh, this internal police force of masculinity that just governs our every action or like, non-action our thoughts, our subconscious thoughts. And, but I remember that feeling. I couldn't put a word on it. I couldn't tell you, uh, what age I was.

I just remember a lot of these feelings and then growing up. You know, you, you you're taught to be mean to the girls. How did the girls know that we like them? Well, we gotta be mean to them. Of course. 

Jeremy: [00:12:42] How do they know if you don't hit them in the head with a lunchbox? I mean, it's so obvious. 

Justin Baldoni: [00:12:46] And when you think about the things that we learned, you just go like, w like if aliens were to come and visit us, They'd be like, what is wrong with these guys?

You have these feelings I'm allowed to feel these things you express your life by being mean. You know, it's just, it would be very, very confusing, I think, to another species to see the way that we govern ourselves and just the way that we allow ourselves to be trained, really, to be robots. And not human beings.

So all that, all that to say, this is a long ass answer to your question, but maybe it's because I've done so many interviews already today. I'm just feeling comfortable with you guys. And I could just not be super eloquent. I just remember feeling like who I knew I was wasn't, um, wasn't acceptable. I wasn't allowed to be who I wanted to be, because if I, if I.

Did I'd be having to trade in an element of an allegiance to my gender. I'd be having to hand back that card that told me that I was one of the boys, right. Because part of being in the boys club is no girls allowed. Right. But I liked girls. I liked girls before I was sexually attracted to girls. I was more comfortable with girls before I wanted to sleep with girls.

I liked talking to them. I liked acting and playing dress up. And, but I also liked sports and trucks. So there's no space. It's like you have to pick one and that's a false choice. It's a false narrative. 

Zach: [00:14:13] I resonate to a lot of what you're just saying. I w as we were started doing a little bit of research for this talk, you know, I found your, your Ted talk and I was watching it and I started to tear up a little bit.

Just because there was somebody saying things that I was feeling and, you know, the programming that you talk about kicked in immediately, and I wiped my eyes and looked around and make sure nobody, I saw that. So I'd love to hear your, you know, how, how do we kind of break that cycle? Like this, this programming that we all have, it's so embedded, but how do you take a step back?

How do you start, you know, moving away from 

Justin Baldoni: [00:14:48] that. First of all. Thank you for saying that. And that's been one of the sweetest things is when I get messages from them, like you were like your Ted talk brought me to tears because I, you were saying things that I feel and have felt, but I've never had permission to say yes.

And I go like, who? Sorry, who the fuck? The science, what we say or what we don't say, who decides that we can't talk about this stuff and it's just. It's just that's how deep we got to go back. So the first thing that came to mind when you just asked that question, and by the way, one of the things for me going on this journey, I don't have like pre-written answers and talking points that I just repeat over and over again.

I love to explore and to kind of learn in real time. Really that's what the book is. So, because otherwise I'd be so bored out of my mind doing all these interviews that I, I would just be saying the same stuff. So when things pop in, I try to honor that. Even if they might be not fully formed. So this might be a very one of my most ineloquent interviews.

So I apologize to the listener, but bear with me, uh, because I'm learning too. And we'll figure this out as we go. So what came to my mind is how do we deprogram anything? There's a couple options. You can just unplug it, which doesn't really always work, or you can take the time. And, but the first thing that popped into my mind was the idea of the gym, right?

It's something that I think a lot of us men can relate to is all of us to a certain extent, want to be healthy, whether we want to be healthy and ripped and have an eight pack or a six pack and like big, broad shoulders and look like, you know, Adonis or whether we just want to be healthy so that we can play with our kids.

We can all, at some point relate to the work that goes into the gym, or, you know, Sports in some way, or if it's not sports, it's academics, it's something we're always striving for something. And in oftentimes for me, I have to, I have to deprogram certain muscles as I'm getting older and I've had injuries or maybe I moved doing a work out the wrong way and I hurt myself, uh, or I have imbalances in my body.

So when I'm in the gym, I'm constantly thinking about deprogramming and reprogram, right? Like, you know, if we're doing a, if we're, if we're on the bench press and. I'm not hitting the muscle. I want to hit. And I'm like, oh wow, I've been doing this wrong for 10 years. I need to adjust. And some man comes up to me and says, Hey, your trainer, we hire a trainer to help us deprogram and reprogram.

Right. It's cool. There. He's like, oh no, you want to do it this way. Like, oh man, I haven't been doing it that way. My whole life, let me adjust a little bit. That is deprogramming and reprogramming to make sure that we're having. The most, uh, we're we're having the most efficient workout possible, but then what is a workout?

A workout is us, um, uh, intently on purpose, forcing growth. It's walking into resistance, it's lifting something heavy. It's being uncomfortable on purpose in order to achieve a certain result. The difference is we support the gym is men. We shame the emotional gym, because you can't see the results immediately because the results don't garner us.

Uh, the, the points in the patriarchy, the results don't don't garner us respect then that like alpha body and presence that maybe we think we want, or that we've been sold. The spiritual, the emotional gym. Is deprogramming and going in and asking ourselves why going to therapy? If we can afford it, having uncomfortable conversations with friends like you guys and saying like, so what, so I did this thing.

She told me that I was really, that, that was really fucked up. I got defensive. I need to unpack that with somebody. Like, do you, what do you think. And, and going and being willing to go in and, and unlearn and say, oh, wow, that actually started there. That's sort of when I was seven years old, that started, that came from my dad.

That's what my dad, his dad did to my mom. Oh my God. And then you have this like mind blowing experience of realizing that this isn't even you, this isn't even me. Right. I didn't learn like I did. I wasn't born. And then just suddenly like decided to talk over my wife, like an asshole. No, I was taught that that was modeled behavior.

That was a patriarchal system system telling me that my voice means more than hers. And so therefore, because my voice is louder. I have the free space because of a man to exercise that space and to use my voice to silence hurts. Doesn't make it right. That's what's been reinforced in me since I was a kid.

We have to unlearn it. We've got to go to the gym. We've got to put on that weight. We've got to let our trainers tell us that, you know what we're doing it wrong. Like say shut up to the part of us that goes like, no, I know how to do it. I know how to do it, man. I know how to do it. Like, no, maybe I am doing it wrong.

Lift the weight, allow ourselves to grow, be comfortable in the uncomfortable because we want the muscle to grow and be in tear and have pain so that it can fill with blood and grow. And then. You're like great. Now I know how to do it. Let me try again tomorrow. 

Jeremy: [00:20:19] You mentioned your dad. Uh, I've heard you talk about your dad and how he was kind of the sensitive guy.

And you wanted him to teach you to work with your hands and all that. I'm sure you've heard a million stories from guys who have that issues. Mine. I related to your story, but, but in the opposite way, my dad was an electrician. He worked with his hands, hardworking laborer guy. Not really around much, not emotionally available most, by 

Justin Baldoni: [00:20:40] the way, just Jeremy that's most that's the most, I would say the vast majority of stories 

Jeremy: [00:20:45] are like yours.

Yeah. It's so interesting though, because he was always trying to get me into his shop to teach me to do the things that you wanted to learn, how to do. And I was like, this is bullshit. I don't want it. This sucks. I don't want to be out here doing this. And it's funny after the fact as I've become an adult and been trying to fit into the man box, I'm always like, why can't I fix the fucking toaster?

If I'd listened to my dad 40 years ago, I know how to do this shit. It's so funny how that relationship with our dad influences who we become. And, and I wonder if it is common, maybe you've heard a lot from people that wish they had listened then, because as an adult, they figured out that had the lessons they'd been ignoring, had they followed them, they would be closer to what they're trying to accomplish.

Does that make sense? 

Justin Baldoni: [00:21:27] Yeah, I think, look, I think it's a couple of things because I think that even if you would have listened to your dad, You would have resented him for something else. Of course. Yeah. So it's an, it's a zero sum game. The one thing that I do feel is universal and what's helped me on my journey is I have so much compassion for debts, especially our dads or the baby boomer dads and older, the grandparents, those men.

And it'd be very easy to be resentful of those men. But if you think about it, And you think about what your dad was doing when he was trying to get you in a shop. It was T he was, he was teaching you what he knew, and he was trying to prepare you for the world, which is why this is so confusing. And there's a whole group of men who think that this movement of undefining masculinity or the, you know, They call it performative, wokeness, all the different various things is attacking masculinity.

And it's the opposite. I'm actually, my, my work is to bring more empathy and compassion permit and to help understand that we've all been socialized in the same system, men and women and us men are not only hurting each other, but we're hurting ourselves because the system doesn't benefit us truly. And so when I think about your dad and other men, what they were trying to do is protect us from the very same system that hurts us.

The system that hurt them. They were probably bullied. They don't feel like they're enough. They don't feel like they could measure up. They don't feel like they provide them enough and protect enough. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. When they go to work everyday and work a job that they hate.

They're exhausted at the end of the day, they're resentful of the fact that the system makes it, makes them have to work so hard that they don't even get to parent during the day. And they're too tired to be fathers before when they get home to be present with their kids. And the only thing they can do is turn on the TV.

So I have compassion and empathy for those fathers who so many of us present because they were doing their best and they didn't have the tools. And what they were trying to do was protect us from other men that hurt them. And from other boys that will hurt us. And so I don't think there's an answer of like, I wish I would have listened or not.

Listen, I think, no matter what we would have been like, man, my dad didn't teach me that the grass is always greener when in reality, it's our job now as men to say, like, yeah, okay. I need to allow myself to be angry and resentful of my dad and now I need to forgive him because that's how I'm going to heal.

And now I'm going to do better than he did. Just like, I know he did better than his dad. Yeah. Those of us that were blessed enough to have a father who did do better or have a father at all, because a lot of others didn't do better. And that's another thing that we need to have empathy and compassion for because hurt people, hurt people.

And a lot of boys they've been hurt by their fathers, especially in that generation. My grandfather, I found out that my grandfather never went to one of my dad's sports games growing up. Ever. He was an Italian immigrant. He worked at Studebaker, a car company. He ended up becoming a Senator in the 1940s, despite being raised very close to the origin of the KU Klux Klan.

And back then Italians were treated terribly. I'm not comparing by the way that the plight of injustices there, but he overcame so much. He didn't have the emotional capacity. He never told my dad, he loved him. And I didn't know that until I wrote 

Jeremy: [00:25:18] the damn book. Oh my God. Okay. 

Justin Baldoni: [00:25:20] And that stuff and that stuff, we don't find out.

We don't ask these questions. We wonder why our dads don't say, I love you. We never ask if it's because their dad never said, I'd love you to them. And if we just were to look at the ladder, the family tree of emotional turmoil and abuse, that happens to us men because of masculinity in this patriarchal system that we're in, we'll find.

That we are byproducts of hurt men who did their best, who didn't belong, who just wanted to make a better world for their children who just wanted their children to have a little bit more than they had. And that helps you feel compassionate and empathy. Yeah, 

Zach: [00:26:02] that's, that's pretty powerful. I, uh, you know, the word that I heard in there was enough, enough, enough.

And when I picked up your book, You know, I looked at the, I looked at the chapters and was reading and they all end with enough. And as I read each one, I was like, yup. Yup, yup. Yup. I really want to hear you elaborate a little bit more on these chapter names and tell us about the book and why you wrote the book.

Justin Baldoni: [00:26:30] Well, for me again, it was this, this has really been a discovery. So for one. The book is not an attack on minutes and invitation to men. If anything, it's a love letter to men. And I just, and if men would just open their hearts to this book and read it with the women in their lives, I know that the women in their lives would have so much more compassion and empathy for that.

And I wanted to reclaim the phrase that I think has hurt us. To be man enough to man up. Right? All of these types of things that we know, whether it's been said to us or not, every boy has had it said to them in some way, and that sticks in your mind. And what if we could reframe what that challenge looks like?

What if, what if we could say that being man enough is challenging the very system that we've benefited from that we actually don't. What if being man enough? Is standing up to other men, would it being man enough is, um, is being willing to ask for help is being man enough is being willing to say, like, I don't know the answer.

What do you think these are not things that we're taught. So for me, the book is me asking questions and using my life as an example. I just use stories here and there. And I talk about things that are important to me. And I talk a little bit about my journey. So it's somewhat of a, it's like tiny bits of memoir, but it's only there because I didn't want to write a book that didn't have personal experiences to back up what I'm saying, because I wrote this book for me.

Hmm. I wrote this book for me at all of the various ages where I needed this book. When I wish I had this book, when I wish somebody would have talked to me and told me that I'm enough as I am. And I don't have to prove myself, somebody would have just told me that, like, it's okay to not know the answer that I don't have to do it alone.

That, that true strength is telling somebody that you're hurting. And so every chapter in the book, and it was really hard to figure this out, but. Cause we actually had to end up combining chapters because the book ended up being way too long and we had to shorten it. Every chapter really could be its own book is we took these, uh, these areas that I think every man consciously or subconsciously, uh, feels like he has to measure up to in society or, or against, or with in comparison to other men.

And I wanted to put those in and make and frame the book around these chapters. So it's brave enough. It's big enough, right? Body image, you know, our Dick size, all of it. It's, you know, smart enough, competent enough, successful enough. Um, w dad enough, you know, loved enough. Right? Um, it's, it's all of these things that we compare ourselves to, and it's an unrealistic never-ending, uh, climb.

And that all it leads us with is, is Discontentment, we're never going to be happy because that's how the system works. That's how masculinity and the patriarchy works is it tells us that we have to, we measure our masculinity and comparison with somebody else. So it's a measured thing, right? So there's, it's not given to us, it's earned and it can be taken away that doesn't make it.

How does that make any sense? Yeah. So you're telling me that my worth as a man has to be earned compared, and it can also be taken away. Well, what's that going to do? That's gonna, I'm going to be raised with anxiety and stress and anger and feeling like. I'm not enough and that I'm not smart enough than I sock in that all like, because I'm always, I'm always seeking validation from the outside world.

My masculinity is a constant comparison with external factors that are not in my control. And as we know, that is a recipe for disaster. So that's, that's kind of the framework of the book. It's really an invitation. And as I'm very clear in the book, I don't have the answers. It's not a self-help book. I'm not like, okay, here's 10 things you can do now that you read this chapter.

Here's 10 ways that, you know, there's a couple of times where I give some things that have helped me because I didn't want to leave people with nothing. But the biggest thing that this book does is it makes you hopefully ask the question why and go into your heart to find out, well, what makes me tick?

Do I experience this? And you know what, maybe some men won't, there's a lot of men like you. 

Jeremy: [00:31:24] So much of what you do in the book is what we've been trying to do. You hear? And it's very much the same. We're not experts. We're sharing our, our exploration, our journey into all of these different tools and tips and tricks and things that we try to do to improve all aspects of our lives.

And it has, for us also been very much a learning process. I'm curious, since this came out, since you've been doing these interviews and hearing from people. Has any of the learning that you experienced writing the book evolved? Have you learned more? Is there something where like, wow, I hadn't even considered this when I sat down to the, to the computer to start writing this book.

Justin Baldoni: [00:31:55] Oh yeah. There's so much more, there's so much more. I mean, one of the things that I've thought a lot more about that I couldn't really write about is, you know, the internal misogyny that women face and cause one of the things that I've been getting a lot of is messages from men saying, Hey dude, I cried in front of my girlfriend, wife.

And she was like, she basically told me to man up, oh my God. And this happens all the time. And that was one of the things that I, I didn't touch on in the book. But there are a lot of female authors, like bell hooks that write about this type of thing, which is, which is an important thing to note. And that women and men raised in the very same system, men are told that we have to be a certain way and women are told that men have to be, be a certain way.

Yeah. Right. Totally. That's that's yeah. Brit from women being told, but they have to be a certain way. And so of course, women are going to be raised in a system that subconsciously they have to unlearn. The way that they're told a real man is who are they? Who they should be attracted to, who they should be drawn to.

Right. That's why, like the myth of this, like emotionally unavailable alpha male is so destructive because all it's doing is perpetuating like this, this ridiculous idea or notion that men don't want emotional connection when reality. We're starved for it, both with other people and with ourselves. 

Jeremy: [00:33:26] And we have no idea how to ask for it 

Justin Baldoni: [00:33:29] and ask for it because we're told we're not allowed to.

Yeah. I think every, every man should read a will to change bell hooks. It's one, it's probably the book that helped me the most on this journey and challenge me the most. But we all, and I talked about this in the book is every young boy engages in an active soul murder. This psychic act of self-mutilation.

Where we literally sever ourselves from our feelings from our hearts and we don't know how to get it back. Yeah. We spend our lives trying to like. Like build a bridge between our heads and our hearts, because like on one hand, women want us to be more emotionally available. And then the other hand, when we are we're punished and, and we, you know, we, we, we don't know how we can ask for help, but we're depressed and we don't know what to do.

Cause we're comparing ourselves with everybody else we're trapped. Right. It's like putting a soul in a robot, figure it out. 

Jeremy: [00:34:30] Right. That's your next movie, by the way. 

Justin Baldoni: [00:34:33] I mean, there's post-apocalyptic movies. I mean, right. Who knows what the future of AI and where we're going. It's just like, no, but, and it's funny.

And I had this realization, uh, about a week ago on this journey and I didn't, this isn't in the book. I wish I would've put it in the book, but I was in one of these conversations. And, uh, and for the sake of it, I just was talking about the definitions of what it means to be masculine or feminine. And I said, let's just Google it and real time.

Uh, so we just started, I Googled masculine and feminine and we looked at like, there was like 10 different ideas of, you know, websites of like here's the five or 10 traits of what it means to be masculine. And here's the five or 10 trick. And again, these are like, it's in the dictionary, it's in other places, but it's just general knowledge of, if we were to decide what is a masculine trait or a feminine trait trait, this is what it would be.

And I was looking at it and I realized. Oh my God. If I wanted to build a robot, if I was Elan Musk, who might be a robot, but if I wanted to build a robot, I would build the robot with only masculine qualities. It would take direction. It wouldn't desk questions. It would have a purpose. It would be unemotional.

It would be resilient, right? It would be strong. It would be impenetrable. It would, you would build the most bad-ass best robot. If you took all the masculine. Qualities, it would have sense of direction,

but if you wanted to bring the robot to life, you would give it the feminine qualities. And there is the problem and the solution. If we want to become the fullest humans possible, if we want to achieve our potential, if we want. True equality. If we want war to end, we must be willing to embrace the qualities that society deems feminine and not judge each other, police each other for having them and allow women to embody the masculine without us feeling or, or being a masculine, which isn't a real thing.

We are all in amalgamation of both. And the fact that we have not allowed ourselves the opportunity, the grace, the freedom to be full human beings and experience the gamut of human emotions. It's very easy to see why the world is in a position in that sense. 

Jeremy: [00:37:23] I don't want it to be, but that's a perfect place to end.

I know you've got another call that you are already a couple of minutes late for this has been amazing. Your work, your work is so powerful and really means a lot. And hearing you speak today and in your Ted talk and reading your book, I've teared up multiple times. So just thank you for what you're doing, man.

This is really important stuff and, uh, really appreciate your time. And we'd love to have you back some time. 

Justin Baldoni: [00:37:46] Absolutely guys, sack and Jeremy, thank you so much for doing this work. It's so important and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you guys.

Jeremy: [00:38:00] All right. That was Justin Baldoni. You can find out more about him and his book too. The links on our website, the fitness.com. Just look in the show notes for this episode. Hey, while you're there, do subscribe to the show on whatever podcast player you're using, follow us on social media, et cetera. And we have a newsletter there where you can sign up and keep in touch with us and all the things we have going on at the show.

Some really important stuff there that I'm sorry. I'm glad we had that conversation because that is a perspective that is not often shared. It is. I think it's growing. I think there are the fact that we do this. There are other shows that do something like this, the fact that he's writing a book like that this is important stuff.

And I think. One of the big takeaways. There is the idea that that masculinity is, it's a perception. It's not, it's not real. There's, there's nothing about it. That's real. It's this thing that we assign to men, boys, and then measure and compare to other men. It's it's this constant game of EMI, man enough, uh, is this boy learning to be man enough to be a functioning man in the world?

And like you were saying, Zach, I think it's really important to point out that nobody's trying to take anything away. And that was a really important point that you made early in the show is it's about making room for emotional intelligence and feelings and expressing the difficulty and the struggle that you're going through, whatever it might be.

Yeah. 

Zach: [00:39:25] Yeah. W I know when I opened myself up to kind of the, the other side a little bit, and those things started building none of the other, you know, Air quotes. Mainly things really went away, but after a few years, like some of them have actually started to leave some of them, not all of them. So like, you know, we've got, uh, something broke in the house, uh, yesterday and, uh, you know, my, my, my very first thought was like, well, I'll just fix that myself, because that's what I do.

Right. When nine times out of 10, I usually. Fuck it up worse. And then I have to call someone. Right. But like, instead this time I was like, oh, I will. No, I'm, you know what? I'm going to ask some people for a recommendation, for someone who can come fix that the right way. There you go. I'm going to channel it the other way.

I don't need to fix it. It's not my responsibility to do that. I don't have 

Jeremy: [00:40:17] to. That is, that has been one of the biggest struggles of my life. And in my relationship with masculinity or whatever is the fact that I'm not a handy dude. I can't fix things like you. When I, when I try, I tend to fuck them up worse.

And there's just this voice in the back of my head. That's like, you're not man enough. You're not a good enough person. You're not a provider enough. You can't protect your family when shit breaks. And that's all bullshit because I can call somebody and I can hand them money. That I earned through the thing that I do, that I'm good at to make them fix the thing that I don't like.

I'm still providing, but there's the step that I have to go through in my head to drop that judgment and just be like, you are perfectly good enough. You're exactly who you're supposed to be. And it doesn't make you less of a man because you can't fix the toaster. It's, it's such a stupid thing, but I have to like talk myself through that every time I can't do the thing I watched my dad do.

Yeah. 

Zach: [00:41:14] And so I am relatively handy. Like usually when I screw things up, it's like, it's the big things. Like. Because I try and tackle it myself, but what really gets me is like, you know, when I'm at work, when I'm leading people, right. I, I talk to people all the time about their strengths and, you know, in some cases it's good to work on your weaknesses, right?

So like for my physical journey, right? For like, you know, working out and things like that, I need to focus on my weaknesses cause I need balance. But like from a skills perspective, if you have a weakness and I tell people this all the time, like if you have a weakness, And you put effort into it, the best you're ever going to get as mediocre.

Right? If you have a strength and you put that same effort into that strength, you'll 10 exit. Yep. Right? Delegate your weaknesses, focus on your strengths and you'll be fine yet. When something breaks in the house, I'm like, well, I don't know how to do that, but I'm going to certainly try. And I'm going to focus on my weakness.

So like I tell, you know, I preach and I don't listen to them.

Jeremy: [00:42:20] Well, I guess the last thing I want to say about this is that I think you even mentioned at the beginning of the show about, uh, women's perception of masculinity. And I think a lot of the people that I've debated about this issue would hear us talking about this and say, you know, you're a couple of woke idiots, you know, you're, you're completely off base on this.

I will only present as evidence that they're wrong. With the fact that we hear from women that listened to the show that say all of the time, man, I wish my husband was as open as you guys, man. I shared this with my boyfriend because he needs to know that guys can talk like this. Women want to want to hear men open up.

They want them to be vulnerable. They do also want the tough guy sometimes. And it's a, it's a tricky act trying to figure out which at which time to be, which guy. But there has to be room for both there. Can't just be the one closed off robot that is there all the time, trying to lead and fix and repair.

And do you also have to feel, and you have to share that it happens 

Zach: [00:43:22] so often. So like at work, if there's a woman who is higher up in the ranks and she's just as aggressive as a man it's abnormal and people go out of their way to make sure that. Everyone knows that that person is hyper aggressive and they're just being a normal level of aggressive, but on the flip side, right, as a man, when you do open yourself up, when you are vulnerable and take on some of the traits that women have long known that are valuable, right.

It's looked on as a weakness, right? Yeah. When it's just normal, it just, I can't stand that. How, how that, that viewpoint is there. 

Jeremy: [00:43:58] Right. And it's, again, it's artificial, it's this thing that we've created and is perpetuated and that's where. You know, I hope conversations like this one and episodes like this, uh, are, are some early steps in, in trying to combat that and, and change, I guess, the way both men and women are seeing them 

Zach: [00:44:15] right on.

I'm going to go crack a beer can on my head. 

Jeremy: [00:44:18] All right, bro. We've been to wrap this thing up. Gotta hit the gym, get jacked.

That's enough of a too privileged white guys complaining about their problems. We're going to wrap this episode up. Uh, thank you so much for listening again. If you have not already, please do subscribe at, uh, the fitness.com. All the links to the various players are there. All of our social media links are there and you can sign up for the newsletter, but that's going to do it.

We will be back next Wednesday with a brand new episode. At the fitness.com.

This podcast is amazing. It doesn't seem to lack anything, but we need a legal disclaimer. Prior to implementing anything discussed in this podcast is your responsibility to conduct your own research and consult your physician. You should assume that Jeremy and Zach don't know what they're talking about, and they're not liable for any physical or emotional issues that occur directly or indirectly from listening to this podcast.

Yeah.

 

Justin Baldoni

Author

Justin Baldoni is an actor, director, producer, entrepreneur, and changemaker whose efforts are focused on creating impactful media and entertainment. He is the creator and director CW’s “My Last Days,” an uplifting documentary series about life as told by courageous people living with a terminal illness, and the creator of “Man Enough” the dinner conversation series which dives into traditional masculinity.