This men's talk show got uncomfortably candid about #MeToo. It's a must-watch.

'We need to understand that having good intentions is not enough.'

Warning: The video and article below discusses sexual violence and rape.

There's a new men's talk show called "Man Enough" that just devoted an entire gut-wrenching episode to the #MeToo movement and sexual assault.

The guys who participated in the episode's roundtable — Justin Baldoni, Matt McGorry, Lewis Howes, Jamey Heath, Tony Porter, and Scooter Braun — opened up about their own shortcomings and experiences with sexual abuse and how, exactly, men can be part of the solution.

It's worth a watch, for men especially. Here's the full episode (story continues below):





Man Enough Episode 4 - #MeToo

How can we learn from #MeToo to shape the next generation of men?Join the conversation with Justin Baldoni, Matt McGorry, Jamey Heath, Lewis Howes, Scooter Braun, Tony Porter, Karen Alston, Alma Gonzalez and Yazmin Monet Watkins.Stay tuned after the episode for a special message from our partner, Child Safety Pledge.#ManEnough #Harrys #ChildSafetyPledge


Posted by We Are Man Enough on Tuesday, July 24, 2018

McGorry, who stars in ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder," chatted with me about the episode, which he helped produce alongside Baldoni. (Baldoni's company, Wayfarer Entertainment, launched "Man Enough" in 2017.)

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

"Man Enough" is such an important and terrific show! What was it like personally being a part of the episode on sexual abuse and #MeToo?

Thank you so much. The support means a great deal and I am truly honored to be a part of this show, both on-camera and as a producer. This episode in particular is of great importance. It is one of the pieces of work that I am proudest to have been a part of in my career.

We are at a fork in the road: We can either pat ourselves on the back for clearing the extremely low bar of not being an abuser, or we can take on the challenge of understanding that we have a responsibility to actively be a part of the solution.

Porter and McGorry participate in the roundtable on #MeToo and sexual abuse. Image by "Man Enough"/Wayfarer Entertainment.

In the episode, you mention fame or power can be "intoxicating" because women may approach you differently. What advice would you give to men to keep that intoxicating feeling in check and treat women respectfully?

Positive feelings based on receiving attention are quite natural and are not, in and of themselves, problematic. But what we choose to do based on these feelings really forms who we are and who we become.

"We need to develop the ability to self-reflect and to listen to the voices of women. We need to understand that having good intentions is not enough."

As men, we rarely have to think about what life is like as a woman. A lifetime of messaging about what constitutes being a "real man" has taught us to distance ourselves from anything that is seen as feminine. Combine this with the constant dehumanization of women that is largely invisible to men, and you have the perfect cocktail of traits that will pull us into treating and thinking about women in problematic ways.

In order to counteract this, we need to develop the ability to self-reflect and to listen to the voices of women. We need to understand that having good intentions is not enough. While good intentions are important, it is the impact of our actions that we really need to work on examining.

You noted that even the language men use when dating or simply talking to women can be harmful — like "getting women," for instance — by taking their agency out of it. Why do you think shifting the language we use is so crucial?

Language is important because it represents how we think and what we value. I have found, in conversations with men about subtle and not-so-subtle uses of sexist and dehumanizing language, the wording is often indicative of underpinnings of sexist beliefs. And to be clear, I'm not saying this automatically makes someone a bad human being, but I am saying that it's a part of the larger fabric of a society that dehumanizes, objectifies, and devalues women.

Words like "bossy" exist to shame women into taking up less space. You'll never hear the word used to describe men because those same behaviors are seen as assertive, bold, and positive in men. You'll never hear the words "slut" or "whore" used to describe men negatively, because having many sexual partners is seen as a positive attribute in men.

I am not saying that using the "right words" is the #1 solution to getting rid of sexism, but I do believe it's a great way into the conversation. Our socialization that teaches us to value men above women is never-ending, and thus, our process of questioning and evolving must also be.

McGorry speaks in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images.

Did you ever have some kind of aha moment or experience an event that challenged you to think differently on gender and sexism?

There were a few events that made me question what I knew. The first was in reading a book by a woman about her experiences in the workplace and how they were defined by sexism. I was honestly baffled by the fact that I had never known or considered how different my experience was simply because I was a man. The fact that I had such a glaringly large gap in understanding, when I thought of myself as an introspective and perceptive person, really rocked me.

After reading the book, I was in a relationship with a woman who was an entrepreneur looking to start a business. She called me one night, frustrated and beaten down by the bullshit she had to deal with by the men she was hoping would invest in her company. Lunch often was rescheduled into late-night drinks, and she constantly had to walk a line of being friendly enough that she wouldn't be labeled "cold" or "bitchy" but not so friendly that she was considered "a tease" or "leading them on."

I was deeply angry but felt frustrated that I didn't know what to do other than expressing how sorry I was that she had to go through this, knowing that I would never have to.

"There is so much brilliance in marginalized voices that so often gets ignored by those of us with privilege."

Not long after, I watched Emma Watson's He for She address to the United Nations. And the often-quoted closing line that was an invitation for men in to the fight for gender equity was to ask ourselves, "If not me, who? If not now, when?" It was at that moment that I felt overwhelmed with a sense that I had to try and be part of the solution.

Being a part of the solution is often a much slower, nonlinear process. And some of the most important parts of this work are less glamorous because they are rooted in self-examination and a willingness to have difficult, uncomfortable conversations with other men who are likely to be defensive.

If I really wanted to be a part of the solution, I had to be willing to listen to what women on the forefront of the movement for equality had been asking us to do. And in the feminist movement, that work ascribed to men was often about re-educating ourselves, examining our own biases, and changing traditional male culture in this same way.

Porter and McGorry participate in the roundtable on #MeToo and sexual abuse on "Man Enough." Image via Wayfarer Entertainment.

You're a big reader. Any good books written by women that you would recommend for men to pick up if they're new to understanding allyship?

Absolutely. Without realizing it, we men watch TV or film, read books, and consume culture that is predominantly created by men. Because of the nature of structural sexism, women — and especially women of color because of the added layer of racism — get less opportunities than male creators do, and so we become used to seeing everything through a male and white lens. And this is an integral part of our socialization as people.

There is so much brilliance in marginalized voices that so often gets ignored by those of us with privilege. A question that I have been asking the other men and white people in my life more and more is, "When was the last time you read a book by a woman? How about a woman of color?"

We are trained to think that books about feminism are for women and that books about race are for people of color. But it is actually men and/or white folks who have the most to learn on these topics, and I truly believe that we cannot reach our fullest potential without consciously and consistently including these perspectives into our lives.

Some of the books by women that have been impactful to me include "The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love" by bell hooks, "Sex Object: A Memoir" by Jessica Valenti, "Women, Race & Class" by Angela Y. Davis, "The Mother of All Questions" by Rebecca Solnit, and "Bad Feminist" by Roxane Gay.

Understanding the role that men play in ending violence against women and girls is important as well. In addition to the ones listed above, the following are books by men about how we are socialized and our role in ending sexism: "Men's Work: How to Stop the Violence That Tears Our Lives Apart" by Paul Kivel, "Breaking out of the Man Box: The Next Generation of Manhood" by Tony Porter, and "Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era" by Michael Kimmel.

"I wholeheartedly believe in the ability of conversation to shift culture and create change."

What are your hopes for this episode of "Man Enough," in regards to what men take away from it?

My hope for men watching this episode is that they feel moved and inspired to become a part of the solution; to see themselves reflected in the guests of the show, as well-intentioned men who want to be better; and to come away with ways of really starting to notice and examine all of the things we don't even realize are invisible to us, but that form the basis of a society where women and girls are abused at epidemic rates.

I wholeheartedly believe in the ability of conversation to shift culture and create change. And I hope that men will share it with the boys and other men in their lives to create more of those conversations.

When I began this journey four years ago, I thought that it was something I was doing for other people. What I didn't realize was the transformative power that it would have over my own life. And it is my deepest hope that men realize that our own humanity is on the line here as well.

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wikipedia

Women in country music are fighting to be heard. Literally. A study found that between 2000 and 2018, the amount of country songs on the radio by women had fallen by 66%. In 2018, just 11.3% of country songs on the radio were by women. The statistics don't exist in a vacuum. There are misogynistic attitudes behind them. Anyone remember the time radio consultant Keith Hill compared country radio stations to a salad, saying male artists are the lettuce and women are "the tomatoes of our salad"...? Air play of female country artists fell from 19% of songs on the radio to 10.4% of songs on the radio in the three years after he said that.

Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

Keep Reading Show less
popular