Politics

I Hope They Served Beer: A Conference to Define the Modern Man

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You're not homophobic. You're not misogynistic. And, above all, you're not Tucker Max. So then what kind of man are you? Last weekend, about 200 open-minded guys from American colleges tried to figure that out. Unfortunately, the first ever meeting of pro-feminist men's groups from around the country didn't produce any clear answers. Perhaps the name of the gathering, the National Conference for Campus Based Men's Gender Equality and Anti-Violence Groups, is a hint that these guys are not the most precise thinkers. As Courtney Martin writes in The American Prospect, the group was able to identify the qualities and characteristics associated with masculinity that they're against—for example, "machismo," "tough," and "violent"—but not the traits they're for.

We called Gar Kellom, executive director of the Center for Men's Leadership and Service at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, to see if he could get a little more specific. Kellom says the conference participants came up with role models in Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, but he concedes those men aren't perfect. "Martin Luther King wasn't so nice to his wife and Nelson Mandela got divorced," he says. He also admits that a conference might not be the best forum for pinning down modern masculinity. "Each individual man should do that for himself," Kellom says. "Would you define the modern woman into one template? Men are being liberated from the gender box much the way women were. They don't have to fit into some mold." Especially not if that mold is Tucker Max-shaped.

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