An In-Depth Review of Justin Baldoni’s ‘Man Enough’

Photo by Justin Baldoni (via Twitter)

As 2022 began, I utilized a long-awaited opportunity to read actor/filmmaker Justin Baldoni’s book, Man Enough. Normally, when I craft a book review, it’s a one-shot writeup running no longer than ten minutes. But Baldoni’s meditation on masculinity is a subject so close to my heart that I felt it warranted a much longer dissection and analysis.

While I’m definitely recommending this book, it’s not for the reasons you might assume. Baldoni makes a lot of cogent arguments as to how we should rethink the outdated definitions of “masculinity” to which our society clings. But other premises he puts forth in this book deserve to be scrutinized — in the name of inclusion and veracity.

I have broken down my reactions to Man Enough with a chapter-by-chapter review:

Introduction & Chapter 1 (“Brave Enough”)

Chapter 2 (“Big Enough”)

Chapter 3 (“Smart Enough”)

Chapter 4 (“Confident Enough”)

Chapter 5 (“Privileged Enough”)

Chapter 6 (“Successful Enough”)

Chapter 7 (“Sexy Enough”)

Chapter 8 (“Loved Enough”)

Chapter 9 (“Dad Enough”)

Chapter 10 (“Enough”)

Acknowledgments & My Final Thoughts

As a whole, these chapter-specific assessments of mine (combined altogether) run approximately one-hour-and-fifteen-minutes as a composite average read time. Individually, each chapter-by-chapter analysis runs anywhere from 4 minutes to 8 minutes.

The book’s title itself was fundamentally and inherently triggering, for me. Nevertheless, I’d encourage all of you to give Man Enough a good-faith read — regardless of your political ideology, personal background, or life experiences.

At times, my analysis and criticism may come off as harsh. This is because I can see the good heart and compassionate soul in Justin Baldoni, shining through — despite some places within the book where I feel he is missing important considerations. Those sour emotions awakened in me were balanced out by an overriding perspective where Baldoni clearly wants to see a kinder, gentler, more supportive, more compassionate, more prosperous world created.

All of it is said by me with candid, unfiltered honesty. I truly believe that a central tenet of brotherhood is the ability for men (and boys) to challenge one another with thoughtfulness and nuance — but to do so in the name of fraternity, mindful nurture, and solidarity.

To provide greater context for both my agreements and disagreements with the various ideas Baldoni explores throughout Man Enough — I’ve provided my own “Recommended Reading List” of editorial pieces I’ve individually authored on Medium, expressing my personal views on masculinity:

Stop Telling Me What a ‘Nice Guy’ I Am

Why Being Horny Isn’t a Character Flaw

Calling Somebody ‘Simple’ Can Be Offensive

Joy Behar’s Homophobic ‘Joke’ Was NOT Okay

Is Jonah Hill Really The Best Spokesperson For Body-Positivity?

‘Nutric Masculinity’: The Key to Dismantling Misogyny?

Freeform’s ‘Motherland’ Challenges Assumptions About Gender Power and Matriarchy

The Presumptuousness of ‘You’ll Be Fine’

An Open Letter to Straight Men Who Are Paranoid About Gay Men Seeing Them Naked

My Close Friendship That Never Was

Book Review — ‘Talkin’ to You, Bro!’ by Elwood Watson

The ‘Dutch Oven’ of Dating

Why I Support Abortion

The ‘Hurt Feelings’ Fallacy

The ‘Chivalry’ Fallacy

If you’re someone who likes to write — or even just engage in casual journaling — I’d encourage you to jot down your thoughts, emotions, and reactions as you read through Man Enough. The value in such an exercise is to examine why each of us feels so strongly about our convictions. By vetting other people’s thoughts and ideas, we can delve into our own blindspots. We can reconsider key points that we may have been missing — or alternate perspectives we may have failed to consider.

But it also may help us, as individuals, reaffirm our values. I’ve always been of the mindset that collectivism only works if it’s tempered by individualism — and vice versa.

Check it out…and then, check in with yourself.

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Anthony Eichberger

Anthony Eichberger

Gay. Millennial. Pagan/Polytheist. Disabled. Rural-Born. Politically-Independent. Fashion-Challenged. Rational Egoist. Survivor. #AgriWarrior (Deal With It!)