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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Chen

unpacking modern manhood with cleo stiller

I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Cleo Stiller, author of Modern Manhood. And since I just crossed the halfway point with interviewing over 50 men, I thought I’d get another perspective on the journey of interviewing men as a woman.

So what brought Cleo to writing a book about men? In this podcast episode she shares her story in getting countless messages from men responding to the wake of the Me Too movement in 2017 with men wanting to speak out, apparently wanting to prove that they weren't these terrible guys that the media had been blasting about. I remember this time, and I remember these guys, and I remember thinking shut the fuck up and let the women speak. It has taken them this long to gather the courage to break out of their silence, and yet, still, men have something to say.

I wish I could say the same thing happened, that I had a rush of DMs from masked men wanting to anonymously speak about their fears and vulnerability with an incredibly intelligent feminist figure ready to cut a man. Of course not - story of my life, I was the one seeking, the one chasing, the one begging to be heard.

And yet, even though our experiences were completely different, we both felt a lot of hesitation, nervousness, and insecurity about interviewing men about traditional concepts of masculinity, femininity, gender roles and expectations in modern society. I am so fucking grateful for this. Finally, I was able to validate the feelings I had interviewing men.

Cleo told me that this was one of the hardest moment in her journalistic career because she has been reporting about women's health for so long, so how then, do we find the compassion to listen to what these men have to say? I am so fucking grateful for this. Finally, I was able to validate the feelings I had interviewing men.

Coming from so much pain and trauma, I was forcing men to sit with me and listen to me. I was telling myself this sad old story that I am this frightened little girl and I have to be wary of the intentions of every man that I encounter in my life. How exhausting. No wonder I lost the will to live. I was failing fast, so I had to check myself and learn how to listen.

I am in a very different place now in Season 3. Now I realize that I don't lose space by giving space to others. It isn't a transaction - allowing one voice to speak doesn't equal the silence of another's.

We both agree that there is still a lot of work to be done. And we recognize how important these conversations are right here, right now. We talk about our role as women and what we can do to not have to have this conversation again 10 years from now. Can we be better today? Tune in to our chat on the podcast!

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