A bunch of men's websites have sprung up to teach men how to be "better." They're a step ahead of Maxim — but are they just as bad as ladymags?
That's the claim Greg Beato makes in his Slate analysis of The Art of Manliness, Made Possible, Man of the House, and The Good Men Project, all of which he describes as "men's magazines that nurture, men's magazines that wrap today's downsized, outsourced, overextended, underappreciated males in a cozy but masculine fleece of understanding and sympathy." And while articles on empathy and being a good dad and husband may be a cut above the boobs and cars of lad mags or the high-end consumerism of the likes of GQ, Beato thinks something is still missing. He says,
In feeling the pain of today's beleaguered males, these new men's mags also co-opt the dog-whistle decree that has informed women's magazines for years: You're not good enough. Try harder. With these 13 steps you can be a better person.
Beato's analysis of the new men's sites is a little simplistic — while some articles do conform to the guy-shaming pattern he describes ("Don't like to clean your house? Then you're not the charming slob in the beer commercial but some kind of a wuss, because 'part of becoming a man is picking up after yourself'), others offer useful tips for buying musical instruments for your kids or thought-provoking first-person stories. But he's right about one thing: the world does not need more ladymags. And making a list of what "real men" do — even if it's feeding the baby and keeping the house clean — isn't much better than telling all women they need 26-inch waists and flawless blowjob technique.
However, there may be — and I hope there is — a market niche for stories by and about real men, no quotes. I agree with Beato that most real men aren't lounging in expensive suits a la GQ. I also don't think they're engaging in the competitive boorishness that lad mags seem to advocate. In private, I know they're talking about things the mainstream media (and women's magazines) assume they don't care about: relationships, parents, kids, volunteering, how to lead a good life. There's room in the public sphere for these kinds of private conversations, and having them openly would be good for men and women both. But let's not make them about what "real men" should do.
Real Men Cry And Do Laundry [Slate]