"What does my husband, boyfriend, or crush really think?" It seems to be an age-old question for women. But you know what? Guys also want to know what other guys really think about things, or at least I do.
In fact, as the coeditor of The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood, an anthology of first-person stories by men about manhood, I'm attempting to do what perhaps no man has done before: get guys to not only read about other men's thoughts on manhood, but also to speak honestly about their own experiences. We've also produced a film in which 10 guys go on the record with their takes on being fathers, sons, or husbands. The film, which has the same title as the book, comes out in November 2009.
I knew we would have to warm guys up to the notion of expressing themselves, to departing from the strong, silent casting handed down from our fathers. But I also knew that just under their stoic veneers were guys—confronted with the economic meltdown, increased demands at home, and the lack clear rules of the Manhood road—who actually did want to talk, who did want to share what they were thinking.
The response has been astounding and gratifying. And the breadth of men who agreed to play along has been wide. It includes the CEO of Corning, The New York Times sports editor, the publisher of SmartMoney (whose dad coined the Marine catch phrase "We're looking for a few good men."), a professional baseball player, a decorated Marine, award-winning and best-selling authors, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (whose dad owns the New England Patriots), and my own dad, a Quaker activist for many decades and my jail cellmate briefly when I was the ripe old age of eight.
The response also has been surprising in terms of some of the answers we received. They have proven that while women may not get men, we men don't always understand ourselves either. Or I didn't until I started reading what they had to say. Understanding How Women Attract Men