An In-Depth Review of Justin Baldoni’s ‘Man Enough’
Reading his book was emotional, uplifting, and triggering for me, all at once…but I’d be proud to call this dude my Brother!
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 Baldoni makes a lot of cogent arguments as to how we should rethink the outdated definitions of “masculinity” to which our society clings.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:
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:
Joy Behar’s Homophobic ‘Joke’ Was NOT Okay
I don’t accuse Joy of being “anti-gay,” but she is still blinded by heterosexual privilege
Is Jonah Hill Really The Best Spokesperson For Body-Positivity?
People didn’t begin praising his voice until he made noise about how it affected HIM personally
‘Nutric Masculinity’: The Key To Dismantling Misogyny?
It isn’t enough to just “unlearn” toxic masculinity
Freeform’s ‘Motherland’ Challenges Assumptions About Gender Power and Matriarchy
The sci-fantasy serial centers strong women as warriors, comrades, and rogues…but that’s a good thing!
The Presumptuousness of “You’ll Be Fine”
How much do you really know about my life… or anybody else’s?
An Open Letter to Straight Men Who Are Paranoid About Gay Men Seeing Them Naked
Most of us aren’t going to grope you or make a move on you…so please drop the bravado!
My Close Friendship That Never Was
After learning about the death of a K-12 classmate, I mourn the brotherhood he and I never fully realized
Book Review — Talkin’ To You, Bro! by Elwood Watson
History & humanities professor Elwood Watson rings the bell of a wake-up call for those who want to keep masculinity…
The ‘Dutch Oven’ of Dating
Why are we so concerned with a person’s genitalia when determining who should pay for a date?
Why I Support Abortion
The issue doesn’t affect my life as an individual, but I defended reproductive freedoms even as a kid
The ‘Hurt Feelings’ Fallacy
If you take pleasure in hurting people for sport, there might be something wrong with you
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.