Part of that conversation is unravelling the contradictions about what is means to be a “good man” as opposed to a “real man”. A good man is caring, fair and honourable. A “real man” is the stereotypical hyper-competitive, powerful person who never cries and “gets rich, gets laid”.
“I think that all men have a conversation between those two ideas all the time,” Kimmel said.
A “good man” will support other men’s desires to be good fathers, while a “real man” scoffs that they have become wimps.
“We learn what it means to be a real man from other guys. There will be times in all of our lives when we will be asked to betray our own ideas of what it means to be a good man to prove that we are a real man in the eyes of other men.”
“It costs us when we do the wrong thing, it erodes our sense of ourselves as good men,” he warned. “You won’t look yourself in the mirror in the same way again.”
“I think this is an easy ask for men. Not to say, I want you to live up to somebody else’s definition, but to live up to your own. This is not asking somebody to be different, this is asking them to be more authentically themselves.”
Fiona Smith is a freelance journalist who writes on leadership, specialising in careers, management and company culture.
Michael Kimmel is leading a number of workshops and events organised by TalkPoint. His TED Talk, Why gender equality is good for everyone — men included, has now reached more than one million viewers.