Researching masculinity has been a life-long interest for Andrew Reiner, and it took on a new urgency when his son, Macallah, was born in 2011. Tonight, Reiner gives his Brief but Spectacular take on confronting an outdated model of masculinity. His latest book is called, “Better Boys, Better Men.”
Judy Woodruff: Researching masculinity has been a life-long interest for Andrew Reiner, and it took on a new urgency when his son Macallah was born in 2011.
Tonight, Reiner gives his Brief But Spectacular take on confronting an outdated model. His latest book is called, “Better Boys, Better Men.”
Andrew Reiner: The environment that I grew up in, it was pretty fraught with tension.
At 7 years old, I got into this brutal fistfight with a neighborhood boy. I was scared. I was bloodied. And he kept hitting me. And so I got up and I ran away. Later that afternoon, I do go home through the back door. And I hear my oldest brother yelling and screaming: “He’s such a black sheep. He’s such an embarrassment. He’s a coward.”
And he’s talking about me, of course. That really kind of began a smear campaign in terms of shaming me. And so, for years, I just tried to fight my way, I realized, out of my shame.
It’s how we talk and how we don’t talk to boys that really is the beginning of the problem. If we are depriving boys of a language, of an emotional awareness, clearly, that’s going to have huge repercussions for them and for the rest of us as they get older.
One of the things I’m really hopeful about is that there’s been a huge upswing in the number of men’s groups that have been going on in this culture. You basically have a formation of guys getting together and talking about their lives in ways that maybe they wouldn’t have done that before.
And so I started teaching a college seminar called “The Changing Face of Masculinity.” And that was kind of one of the — the next big step in terms of my awareness on this idea of what healthy masculinity can and should look like.
And then the birth of my son, of course, because if I had a reckoning when I was young, this was really kind of the second big reckoning, because it was no longer just my crusade. It really forced me to face a lot of questions in terms of how I was going to raise a boy.
Macallah Reiner: Masculinity, to me, means that you always can cry when you feel like crying, and you always should have your emotions when you want them.
When my dad was a kid, boys weren’t supposed to cry. It makes me feel kind of sad that he had to go through that.
To the boys out there who might be struggling, you’re not alone. And I just want to tell you it’s always OK to share your emotions and to cry, because that will help you on the way to being a healthier man in your future.
Andrew Reiner: I’m Andrew Reiner.
Macallah Reiner: Yes, I’m Macallah Reiner.
Andrew Reiner: And this is our Brief But Spectacular take…
Macallah Reiner: … on being better boys…
Andrew Reiner: … and better men.
Judy Woodruff: And you can find all of our Brief But Spectacular segments online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.