As a feminist who believes strongly in equality, the mere idea of men gathering together to discuss what it means to “be a man” would classify as my literal nightmare. Images of repressed emotions, false bravado and exaggerated displays of aggression immediately flash before my eyes. However, Justin Boldoni’s series “Man Enough” is a beacon of light in a world otherwise dominated by the darkness of toxic masculinity.
According to Baldoni, Man Enough is a social movement that “invites all men to challenge the unwritten rules of traditional masculinity that have caused us to disconnect from one another, created the foundation of men’s violence against women and prevented us from taking the long journey from our heads to our hearts.” This series, which partially takes place around a dinner table, is informal, lighthearted and comprised of diverse voices. It enables the audience to feel like they’re an active participant in the discussion and not just a passive viewer. (Not to mention I’d like to hire Boldoni’s chef to make my food every day.)
Within the first few minutes of episode 1, “Why Don’t Men Talk”, Baldoni asks his guests what it means to be “man enough.” Without hesitation, Bassem Youssef, who is considered to be the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, summarizes the defining theme of the series by saying, “Man enough. Man up. Be a man. It’s all bullshit.”
Youssef goes on to express discomfort with even using the term masculinity in a positive light because of his experiences in the Middle East. He explains that some people in his native country define masculinity solely by how their women behave and the amount of power men exert over them. But as Derek Hough, a professional dancer known for his work on Broadway and Dancing with the Stars, interjects- that’s exactly what they’re trying to change.
The preceding conversations then shift to center on redefining and understanding modern masculinity.