Just released this sucker as a Facebook post.. Please watch the video and give it a read. Comments, support, criticism, all welcome! Why I’m done trying to be “man enough” | Justin Baldoni "I got a challenge for all the guys. I challenge to see if you can use the same qualities that you feel make you a man to go deeper into yourself. Your strength, your bravery, your toughness, can we redefine what those mean and use them to explore our hearts. Are you brave enough to be vulnerable? To reach out to another man when you need help, to dive head first into your shame. Are you strong enough to be sensitive? To cry whether you are hurting or happy, even if it makes you look weak. Are you confident enough to listen to the women in your life? To hear their ideas and their solutions, to hold their anguish, and actually believe them. Even if what they are saying is against you. And will you be man enough to stand up to other men when you hear locker room talk, when you hear stories of sexual harassment, when you hear your boys talking about grabbin' ass or getting her drunk, will you actually stand up and do something so that one day we don't have to live a world where women has to risk everything and come forward to say the world me too." I came across Justin’s talk Wednesday night and the message he advocates resonates at a very deep and honest level within me, please watch it in full, ideally before reading the remainder. This post has been also been inspired by recent knowledge of misogynistic behavior towards some of my friends and colleagues, as well as press releases telling disgusting accounts of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse and coercion by men towards women. It has been a long struggle in leading a life that is in deep conflict with how I feel inside, and ultimately in conflict with how I was raised by my loving and compassionate parents, especially my strong and fiercely independent mother. With a desperate need for acceptance from other guys I have allowed the conscription to locker room talk in the way I communicate and relate with ‘the boys’ to take hold, which has acted to reinforce gender stereotypes and scripts that are both unfair and cowardly. Past decisions, actions, and behaviors have left me feeling guilty and terribly ashamed, and this is coming from a guy who considers himself quite respectful to women, at least when compared to some of my closest ‘brothers’ in this life. So, to the women who are reading this, I encourage you to reach out to me if you feel I have wronged you or mistreated you in the past. The more detail the better. As Justin stresses, the best way to overcome shame is to dive straight into it, to take away its power, which I am hopeful will enable a transformative shift in the way I perceive, communicate with, and show respect to the women in my life. Which leads me to a behavior that has had an enduring and paralyzing effect in bringing me to this point in my life, where I am often depressed and terribly anxious about the future. From a young age I have been quite dependent on pornography, and through the direction of aggressive and abusive displays portrayed through the large majority of pornographic film I have been left truly unable to pursue, and maintain, meaningful and healthy relationships with women. I now see porn as having a terribly dangerous influence on men, and on women as well (not to mention young boys and girls), as it exemplifies terribly immoral and unrealistic views of sex and sexuality, and reestablishes the script that women should be submissive to men. Pornography is filled with insistent penetration, no holes barred, and definitely no room for intimacy.. Honestly, numerous relapses and past heavy use has left me hollow and the lasting effect it has had on my mental health is so strong that at times I feel unable to cope and unsure if I will ever recover. At points in my life, it had manifested in obscene alcohol intake, risky behavior, and a short dependence on prescription pain medication, which allowed a separation from the reality of the situation. Like most guys, I kept my pain and suffering internal, which only made things worse. Only recently have I felt comfortable in sharing this issue with some of my close friends, as well as professional psychologists, and already I feel freed from the behavior, especially as consuming pornography is pretty normalized within our culture. I fully encourage an abstinence from porn due to the many benefits it can have, but to each their own. To open your mind to the dangers of pornography please watch the video below. Why I stopped watching porn | Ran Gavrieli "So women. On behalf of men all over the world who feel similar to me, please forgive us, for all the ways in which we have not relied on your strength. And now I would like to ask you to formally help us, because we cannot do this alone... Don't lose hope, we're only here because of you. And like you, as men, we need to stand up and become your allies as you fight against pretty much everything. We need your help in celebrating our vulnerability, and being patient with us as we make this very very long journey from our heads to our hearts”. To all the women in my life who have supported me despite my indecencies, I apologize to you. Words cannot put how thankful I am to have strong and independent women in my life, starting with my amazing mother and my forever inspiring sister. The support and encouragement you have offered me through hardships I can never repay, but I am encouraged to try. So all women, please understand that it is not easy for us men to come out of our long-established comfort zones, to recognize that the privilege we have held serves no purpose in the wellbeing of humankind. So, I urge all women to continue being vehement in taking a stand for what is right, and in an effort to help us guys please continue being as understanding, empathetic, and strong as you have for so long. Ultimately, I am reaching out as an ally. Sharing this message through the largely superficial platform that is social media is something I am not completely happy with, but it offers a starting point. Also, I recognize that I am relying on my privileged male voice for this message to be heard, however, as I see it I take it as a responsibility to harness any privilege that I do have in publicly addressing the many wrongs that exist in this world. Please feel free to blatantly call me out if my actions and words are in opposition to the message I am wishing to convey and life I am planning to lead. Finally, to my brothers, please accept me for who I am and my decision to come forth with this. Do not act surprised when I stand against comments and actions that I feel are disparaging of women. It is not my intention to end any friendships as your support is something I depend up and honor. However, I do recognize that this may meet some resistance, especially from those who are unwilling to reconceive what it is to be a man. I hope that this post, in a sense, acts as permission for you to reconsider your views, and ultimately to take action in recognizing and addressing any socialized and gendered conflicts that you may embody yourselves. As a human it is normal to feel emotional and vulnerable, in fact, it absolutely fucking healthy to. That does not mean we have to refrain from yelling at the TV when our favorite team shits the bed, it doesn’t mean we can’t engage in some testosterone-laden antics with the boys, it just means that there needs to be a balance and an openness to expressing vulnerability and an openness to sharing and talking through difficulties. Hopefully as brother to brother. There is a need to redefine what it is to be strong, and speaking from experience, especially in relation to recent events in publicly sharing my story regarding mental health, I feel much stronger than I ever have before, in body and in mind. I offer an invitation to reflect on your life, on your mental health, and encourage you to take action if you feel you are in need of help. So, please feel free to reach out to me in an effort to begin a conversation, even if your views are currently in complete opposition. It is time to forgo the scripts of masculinity that we have been so steadfast in maintaining and protecting. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, that which is most adaptable to change.” Indeed, it has come time for a change. Some additional standout quotes that hit home.. "I had been pretending to be a man that I am not my entire life. I've been pretending to be strong when I felt weak. Confident when I felt insecure, and tough when really I was hurting. I think for the most part I've been kind of putting on a show. But I'm tired of performing. And I can tell you right now that it is exhausting trying to be man enough for everyone, all the time" "That acceptance meant I need to acquire an almost disgusted view of the feminine. And since that we are told that feminine is the opposite of masculine I had to reject embodying any of these qualities, or face rejection myself. This is the script that we've been given. Girls are weak, and boys are strong.. I came here today to say, as a man, that this is wrong, this is toxic, and it has to end" "I'm just a guy who woke up after 30 years (for me 27) and living in a state of conflict. Conflict with who I feel I am at my core, and conflict with who the world tells me as a man I should be. I don’t have a desire to fit into the current broken definition of masculinity, cause I don’t just want to be a good man, I want to be a good human" "I know men who would rather die, than tell another man that they are hurting" "If it's about work, or sports, or politics, or women we have no problem sharing our opinions. But if it's about our insecurities, or our struggles, our fear of failure, then it's almost like we become paralyzed" "If there's something I'm experiencing shame around in my life I practice diving straight into it... then in doing so I take away it's power. My display of vulnerability in some cases can give other men permission to do the same " "I realized I wasn't alone because my guys had also been struggling. And as soon as I found the strength and courage to share my shame it was gone" "Now I've learned over time that if I want to practice vulnerability I need to build myself a system of accountability" "Secretly he was waiting for permission to express himself, to be seen and heard, and all he needed was another man holding him accountable in creating a safe space for him to feel, and the transformation was instant" "I've had to take a real honest look the ways I've unconsciously been hurting the women in my life, and it's ugly" "Am I man enough to just shut the hell up and listen" "This is real, and I'm just scratching the surface here, because the deeper we go the uglier it gets, I guarantee you. I don't have time to get into porn, and violence against women, or the split of domestic duties, or the gender pay gap" "As men, it's time to see past our privilege and recognize that we are not just part of the problem fellas, we are the problem. The glass ceiling exists because we put it there. And if we want to be part of the solution then words are no longer enough."