What Does It Mean To Be A Good Man?

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the good men in the world had an invisible stamp on their hand, and all you had to do to find one was shine a black light on it? But, uh, what constitutes a “good man” anyway? Tom Matlack of The Huffington Post is attempting to answer that question with The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood, a collection of first-person stories that he’s turned into a book and documentary about what it means to be a man in America today. Encompassing stories from Pulitzer winners to ex-cons, and pro Football Hall of Famers to just regular Joes, the authors share their defining challenges, losses and triumphs through honest and simple truths.

This conversation about “good manhood” became particularly interesting to Matlack this past year when he heard the statistic that 70 percent of unemployed Americans were men. For many men, Matlack believes, identity is tied up in their work; so massive job losses mean there needs to be some redefining of what manhood is, and not just in the workplace—but also as fathers, husbands, and sons. “Many men are looking in the mirror, saying, ‘This is crazy. I can’t do this,'” Matlack says. Maybe that explains why Don Draper was voted the most influential man of 2009?

Matlack says, “In general, guys have not been socialized to tell their stories. There’s so much out there in terms of how women tell their stories. Part of what we’re trying to do is say that as a guy you don’t have to tell your story like you would on ‘Oprah.’ There’s a way to do it that’s true to who we are.”

After reading some excerpts from the book and watching the trailer, I can’t wipe this stupid grin off my face. I am totally moved by what these men have to say. I can’t wait to hear their stories and gain a better understanding of what men go through. In addition to the “goodness” of the project, all proceeds from the book and documentary will go to a nonprofit foundation to help at-risk men and boys. Is this the beginning of a new era for men? I sure hope so. [Boston.com, The Good Men Project]