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Op/ed: For an Expanded Definition of Masculinity, Turn On ‘Ted Lasso’

Public Health Researcher Urges Moving Beyond Tradition That Promotes Intolerance and Harm

By Kevin Roy

Jeremy Swift, Brett Goldstein, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Nick Mohammed in “Ted Lasso” season two

A family science researcher holds up TV show “Ted Lasso” as an example of an expansive definition of masculinity that modern men could do well to emulate.

Photo by Apple TV

From mass shootings to rising deaths from drugs and suicide to falling education rates, a host of bad news has fueled pronouncements by some politicians, podcasters and other right-wing observers about “manhood under siege”—particularly as it pertains to white men.

In a new essay in The Baltimore Sun, University of Maryland family science Professor Kevin Roy writes that the prescriptions to solve this so-called crisis often involve attitudinal makeovers, gobbling testosterone pills, toughening up or other empty advice. Instead, he writes, perhaps men who are feeling these societal stresses need to examine more broadly what it means to be a man—and one place to start could be a popular series on that recently concluded on Apple TV+.

We are moving toward a more expansive notion of masculinity that speaks to white men, as well as the 19% of our nation’s population who are men of color and the almost 8% of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. Instead of confining it to a narrow set of behaviors, why not grow what masculinity can be? What if we recognize there are many ways to be a good person who is a man?

Look at how men stumble and thrive in their relationships in the popular series “Ted Lasso.” In the traditionally hypermasculine environment of professional sports, Lasso’s players succeed by learning to trust each other with their weaknesses and ultimately improvising a style of play that de-emphasizes singular super star athletes.

I have taught a course on masculinity at the University of Maryland to over 1,000 undergraduates since 2017. The class attracts students of all genders (but relatively few white men) and from across the political spectrum. Almost every student says what attracted them to the course was a chance to figure out “what’s going on with guys.” They feel that men don’t have a sense of purpose, that men are isolated, stuck, and sometimes violent—and they see this every day in their families, with their friends and partners, and in themselves.

Read the rest in The Baltimore Sun.



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