Reimagining Masculinity – Brendan Kwiatkowski

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Brendan Kwiatkowski is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Edinburgh in Scottland researching adolescents males’ beliefs about emotions, school and masculinity and looking at the relationships between all three of those elements. Brendan is in the research phase of his Ph.D. and he is collecting his data in the greater Vancouver region of British Columbia. Andrew and Brendan discuss various aspects of his research including the impacts of messaging from parents and teachers, how we form our masculinity beliefs and the differences in how we raise boys and girls. Brendan shares his affection for Brooklynn nine-nine, and Andrew does his level best to ask great questions and get the most from the conversation.

Show Notes:

Connect with Brendan Kwiatkowski online in the following places:

Instagram: @re.masculate

Hosted: Andrew Bracewell @everydayamazingpodcast

Produced/Edited: Justin Hawkes @Hawkes21

Full transcript of this episode:

Andrew Bracewell: This is the podcast that finds the most elusive people the everyday amazing kind that you know nothing about. I’m hunting these people down and exposing their beauty to the world. I’m Andrew Bracewell and this is every day amazing. I wear


Brendan Kwiatkowski: the mask because it is hard. It’s a burden to wear the mask of always being fine, but not where the mask is also excruciatingly hard.


Andrew Bracewell: Hello. Hello. Hello, everybody in the podcast universe. Our guest today is charming, thoughtful, introspective and insightful. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve only been in his presence for roughly 90 minutes and exchanged a few e mails. So my dad A is limited and he could be a total jerk. But today we will definitely find out. What I do know for certain is that he is a brilliant thinker. Brendan quit Kowski, which I may have just said wrong is a PhD candidate from the University of Edinburgh researching adolescence, males, beliefs about emotions, school and masculinity, and looking at the relationships between all three of those elements. Brendan worked as a high school teacher in the lower mainline for five years, and during that time he received his master’s in special education. He primarily taught psychology, history and science as well as created and lead a social emotional group for high school boys. Brandon has been interviewed about his research on CBC Radio One as well as many other podcasts. His stated personal and academic mission is to help males connect to their emotions and two others in healthy and healing ways. Brendan, welcome to the show.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Thanks for having me.


Andrew Bracewell: So let’s start with the last name because I probably butchered it. How do you pronounce it?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Well, my wife and I changed the pronunciation when we got married, So you pronounce it before I got married. And then I changed it to Kwiatkowski. Slightly more evolved. Form back to the original will be quick. Crvenkovski would be the more Prussian


Andrew Bracewell: Polish. I was gonna say. There’s obviously European. So it’s It’s Prussian polish.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yes. Yeah, My heritage traces back to its German roots, but in present day Poland, but used to be pressure.


Andrew Bracewell: Got it. Okay, so we’re gonna get into your research and all that entails. But before we do that, I want to make you human a little bit. What is your are you Are you binge watching anything right now? What’s your What’s your Netflix or streaming? Go to,


Brendan Kwiatkowski: um right now it’s Brooklyn. 99 for the third time


Andrew Bracewell: for the third time. Wow. Is there a character there that you feel is representative of ur wife three times?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Oh, I think a mixed between Jake and Charles Boyle. Um, yeah, it just it gets me laughing. Allowed more than other shows generally. D’oh. And doesn’t a fairly, um, non offensive way, which? Yeah, which is somewhat important to me,


Andrew Bracewell: which is appealing to you. Yeah, And so is this, Uh, is this therapy time for you When you’re how are you using your your shows? Is it late at night? Staying up too late or what?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Uh, well, my wife’s pregnant with twins right now, so I’m saw shared during her feet during those times.


Andrew Bracewell: Okay, So do you even actually wanna watch? Or is that just that You


Brendan Kwiatkowski: know, I totally wanna watch.


Andrew Bracewell: Wow. And how many? Like, every every every week? A few times a week. What’s your What’s your protocol?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Most nights.


Andrew Bracewell: Last night’s okay. I just, uh I just finished. It’s a fairly new show on Netflix called Messiah. Have you heard of that?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I’ve heard of it. You heard great things but haven’t seen.


Andrew Bracewell: It’s fantastic. It’s absolutely fantastic. You actually have to give it a listen. It’s Ah, it’s a modern day. Look at what if the Messiah story were to happen today? How that would Unho unfold in like 2023 2024 kind of thing? Taking in all of the current context of, you know, past wars, cultural strife, you know, whatever. But it’s happening today. There’s a guy that appears and he has a message, and he’s parading through the streets of Iran, preaching and then leading people out into the desert and what that creates in the world context. Absolutely fascinating. Yeah, it surely will offend you know, many, many Christians and Muslims. So the only if you’re like right in the in the middle, would you possibly not be offended? But it’s it’s It’s really good. Hey, let’s get to your work. So Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Edinburgh. Why? Why a timber,


Brendan Kwiatkowski: um, three reasons. One On my first paternity leave, my wife and I traveled to Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, England and fell in love with Edinburgh. It was the first time in all my travels where I thought I could live here kind of had this weird Canadian vibe to it more than any other place I visited. And so then when I went to look at PhD programs and education, I was in between UBC and Edinburgh based kind of on location. But I really love how remember, uh is really well, UBC is too, but focused on social justice and inclusion, an integral part of the education program there. And so, um and then practically, I missed the deadline for UBC, say so, then tried for Edinburgh kind of wanted adventure. And it was way more money, but got some scholarships. And so that made that decision easier.


Andrew Bracewell: Yes. So in my limited research of Edinburgh, it’s fairly significant in the UK like it’s it’s deemed one of the top, you know, one of the top places to be. And that’s what I wanted to bring up. You actually have. You have a full ride and you’re getting paid. That might not even be the accurate way to say it. Step in something like that. Yeah. Can you just talk about that that process, because I feel like that’s fairly significant. Maybe you don’t want to talk about it, but but it seems it seems significant. Surely not everybody is in this position that you are.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, I’m definitely very grateful to be in the position I am, because it is super expensive, and I don’t love talking about it, but at the same time, there’s an interview process. And how I have understood it is that they want universities want to invest in people that they think have longevity and they think can speak about their topic or contributes significantly to their topic. And so I really appreciate that the universe vertebra, um, I guess put money behind me and yeah, and so that’s something I’m very grateful for.


Andrew Bracewell: How many people in the world that this might be a ridiculous question and tell me if it is. But how many people in the world are doing the research that you’re doing or something very similar in other universities? I imagine the number can’t be big.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Uh, yeah, because it gets so specific to write, um, like Canadian high school males. Um, which is what my researchers about, um there is a couple of people in the last couple decades that I know of that were quite prominent. But currently it’s, I don’t know, uh, of I couldn’t even give you an accurate number,


Andrew Bracewell: right? Right. It’s It’s obviously not so prevalent that there is a number that pops into your head. But clearly there’s other people doing this in their own contexts in other places.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, because that’s one of the things about, um, all research. But really, when you look at gender, it’s like masculinity in Canada or even in British Columbia is gonna be different. The masculine, the in Quebec, um, and so really wants to get really narrowed in. There isn’t many people doing what you’re doing.


Andrew Bracewell: That was actually gonna be a question. I pose May as well do it Now. You know you’re doing your research in, you know, here in the lower mainland British Columbia. How much does it change? Do you think? Based on geography, I realize that we’re speculating here to some degree. But you know, is it fair? It probably wouldn’t be fair to say that all of Canada is the same. It certainly wouldn’t be fair to say that North America would be the same. And then, you know, different countries, I’m sure, have different trends. So what would what would you expect to see in terms of differences even between? Like, let’s say, Canada and the United States,


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Uh, in adolescence, Aaron men in general?


Andrew Bracewell: Well, both. I guess it would be a fair question, but let’s just even say adolescence, you know, because because that’s what you’re doing.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yes. So, um, statistics wise around adolescent age in Canada, um, males are three times more likely to die from suicide than females in the States. It’s 4 to 5 times more likely. Um, so you could read into those statistics and use that as evidence that maybe some of the masculine norms to hide your emotions, um, to man up are stronger in the U. S. Then in Canada overall. Um, but generally there’s the major themes are quite the same, like the the main tenants of what masculinity stood for. Since it’s been, research which started in essentially the 19 seventies has remained fairly stagnant. Um, and those are at the time a guy named Brandon. I’m summarized them as Don’t be a sissy. Be a sturdy oak. Give him hell. Be a big wheel.


Andrew Bracewell: This was developed in 1970


Brendan Kwiatkowski: 90 76 I believe,


Andrew Bracewell: and you’re saying this hasn’t I mean this? Clearly, this is changing now, but to this point, there hasn’t been much change.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, so what? Researchers who have been researching masculine D since that time. What they’ve noted is that there’s been a surprising lack of change, and the trend is when researching, researching what’s acceptable for females. And what’s acceptable for adolescent males is that the mail box has stayed relatively stagnant, whereas the female box has managed, ah to accommodate more stereo, typically masculine traits. And so females are allowed to be more masculine than males are allowed to be more what it was deemed was more feminine historically.


Andrew Bracewell: And is there? Is there a relationship between suicide in men from the time that this philosophy was adopted in the seventies, like is it widely accepted that the suicide statistics are reaction to these five tenants?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I won’t go that far because I don’t know the whole history of suicide rates and how that’s changed over time before the 19 seventies, Um, and like people use suicide statistics for multiple different things, because yes, Although males complete suicide far more often than females, um, females attempt it surround seven times more often than males. But what is, I think particularly relevant is that a round Grade six is when I’m generally a significant time in males is lives where they become Maur emotionally restricted. And that is around the age where those suicide rates start diverging based on gender, so the suicide rates before then they’re fairly, um, similar for males and females. But then, as emotional stoicism or restricting emotions increases for males disproportionately, the suicide rate also increases disproportionately. So I would look at that and say there’s evidence that your ability to share your emotions and to connect with their own emotions is relevant for the discussion in both, Sue said.


Andrew Bracewell: I knew coming into this our time together that we’d have the ability to rabbit trail and I would lose track of notes I made and things I wanted to do. So before we get going, I want to go back to emotional restriction because that’s one of that’s obviously a significant piece to the puzzle. But to set things up for the listener have pulled something from a paper that you wrote and the paper was written in response to a fairly popular John Gillette ad campaign. And so I want to read that now and then. Just the piece that I pulled and then let that set up your actual research that you’re doing currently right now is part of your PhD because I want to get into that. Does that make sense yet? So this is you talking? I started researching the subject quite unintentionally. I was researching students with behavioral needs and discovered that 81% of them are male. This led me to explore masculinity and to 40 years of research would show that men are likely to believe and rigidly adhere to norms of masculinity, particularly emotional stoicism, autonomy and dominance and are much more likely to suffer negative psychological and physical problems. They are also more likely to hurt other people. Let’s be clear. These traits aren’t healthy for anyone to adhere to in excess, but males are significantly more likely to be expected or pressured into being that way. So those are your words from a while back, and I should say that we’re allowed to change our thoughts, so I should first ask you. Do you know that Still something that you say? Yeah, I stand by that. And then, too, I thought that’d be a good introduction to the research you’re actually doing today in the in the lower mainland.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, I I do stand by that, um the only things I would change is that it’s I do find important to have some qualify words that, um I’m not sure if I wrote Maur likely on DS and some males because I think a lot of, ah, the polarization in the conversation about masculinity. A lot of it could just be minimized if people just said, like, some males tend to do this or are more likely to do this rather than stating absolutes, because that often sets people’s backs up.


Andrew Bracewell: So can you bring us into the details of some of the work that you’re doing with the Believe It’s great 12 boys in various schools. And is it only the Langley School district? Or is it is it large parts of the freezer valley or lower mainland?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: It’s more the geographical area around Langley.


Andrew Bracewell: So tell us about it. What do you actually, what are you doing


Brendan Kwiatkowski: so It’s building off of my masses. Research masses researches when I created and lead a social emotional intervention. Um, for boys, um, that were kind of deemed Maur either that the history of more problematic behaviors or they were going through some troubling times. And so, for the first semester, me and counselor, teacher and colleague and friend of mine kind of lead this intervention. Psycho educational, talking about emotions is discussing different things in different pressures on being a man. And then the next semester, these boys mentored, um, elementary students that were kind of on a similar trajectory to some of them. And so they were able to kind of mentor and offer some guidance and advice for a great six or seven males from a nearby school. And in that experience, working with the quote unquote, um, bad boys, the typical what schools might call or teachers might call. Hopefully not anymore, um, problematic kids, which they were. We talked about that label. They knew that they often have that label associated with them, but working with them and hearing their stories, it was super emotional impactful experience that I wanted to research kind of the whole spectrum of police about emotions and masculinity and school experiences from boys is own perspectives. Um, so not just, I think often there’s this assumption that boys are don’t want to talk. I come across this a lot. I’ve had academics say you’re never get boys to talk. And so my research right now is looking at, um, first a survey about what do they actually believe about emotion, School of masculinity? And then from that, I’m selecting a diverse range of opinions and seeking to interview 20 people further about this topics. And it’s funny. So I had people say, like, Oh, you’re never gonna get boys to talk and I have 65 participants so far. I need 100 65. But I’m actually running into another ethical problem is because based on the survey results of those 65 60 of them want to talk. Um, and now I have all these participants that have stories and stuff that they really want to share, and I won’t have time to do that. And so there is the assumption that boys don’t want to talk or can’t talk. Um, I understand some boys don’t want to, but some females don’t either. And so I think there’s a lot of research about boys and lots of conversations about boys. But I want their voices to be essential for my current research.


Andrew Bracewell: Why do we believe that boys don’t want to talk


Brendan Kwiatkowski: because generally speaking, boys to have difficulty in talking, um, or that they are uncomfortable or don’t know how to talk? But I think often we don’t ask them in ways that they might be receptive to.


Andrew Bracewell: So is it the anonymity in your process that is that the reason why you have 60 boys who are clamoring to talk or what’s the difference there?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Because I haven’t talked to them yet. I don’t know why they want to talk to me, but other than I can only assume that, like how when I when I introduce my research to them and I say kind of the reasons for why I want to research on and hear from them is because I know that some men of connected or some of these participants have connected on the fact that oh yes, the pressure’s too grew up being a male were super significant for me and I want to share my story. Um, but I don’t I can’t speak to the other ones, but I assume it’s because something resonates. And that someone, actually, yeah, I’d be lying if I probably helps that. I I think I’m approachable person, Um, someone that I think you’d be hard to do this research if I was 60 years old.


Andrew Bracewell: Sure, absolutely.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: And so there’s kind of a sense, hopefully that he’s not so far removed from my own experience that he’s someone I could talk to.


Andrew Bracewell: So what’s the in the data and research that you’ve done so far? Maybe that you’ve done or even that others similar to you have done. What are the expectations? That boy’s air saying they’re needing to live up to what’s being shared. So far,


Brendan Kwiatkowski: sorry in my data or in


Andrew Bracewell: all of that, either either or, I mean, you’re in the minute we could talk, you could say specifically to your data to start.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, I’ll start with my someone masses, Research one participants in my interview said, like, I really wish I could share my emotions with my friends without being called a sissy or a pussy, and that is a super common theme like the pressure, I think. What? Surprised? Not I shouldn’t say surprised, but really, the emotions that they felt comfortable expressing was happiness and anger or just neutral.


Andrew Bracewell: So happiness, anger being like polar opposites to extremes or stoic right in the middle.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, that was what the boy’s my masses talked a lot about, and already from my dad A. For my Ph. D. Surveys that have back is there’s a couple of written questions on there, and it’s so fasting and heartbreaking that those same themes of happiness and anger, the emotions that they I feel like they showed the Mostar are comfortable or can easily access the reasons why they access those and why happiness it’s so important for them is because they don’t want to burden people with their other emotions. And so I think that tells a very different narrative about some of the reasons why. Why boys don’t talk more. One is because there’s this pressure that they have to have it all together, that they need to be strong for other people. And so that’s why they have this mask of happiness and and long term you end up shutting down your other emotions, Burn a brown says it more eloquently than me that you can’t like near biologically. You can’t feel your paws of emotions as strongly. If you numb your negative ones, you have to feel kind of all of them in order to get all of them in their richness.


Andrew Bracewell: Yep. I have a question that I’m gonna do my best. I’m gonna fumble over a little bit, but I’m gonna do my best to related to I think partially to what you just said. And it’s like a narrative in my head. So bear with me as I try to get it out in our evolution, we go back, you know, 102 103 and we go back as far as you want. We were in different places where boys maybe had to be something because of, you know, society at the time. So, like, you know, if we lived in times of war or different eras where the actual work required, Ah, high risk of pain, higher risk of death, physical toil. You know, whether you want to talk about mining or whatever. It’s very different than where we are today. We’re today. You know, for the most part, you don’t have to risk dying to put food on the table. You you don’t need to be the strongest to do something because of, you know, automation and technology and whatever. But is it possible that what was required of a man and needed for society, you know, in our history is just different than what’s needed today? And what we’re wrestling with is, in fact, just part of the story of evolution in that, you know, we needed to be something 500 years ago that we just don’t need to be today. So some of that stew is amore, you know, locking down of emotions. It was, in fact, necessary for some things that we did because it was the on leeway. You could accomplish what you were trying to do because of how difficult or extreme it Waas is out of. Is that fair? You follow what I’m saying there?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, I follow what you’re saying, and I, uh, mostly totally agree with that. And if I can use like you talked about the macro, I would say that there’s some things that weren’t necessary. Um, even historically speaking, like polygamy or things like that, like power over power in this form of dominance of control over females. I wouldn’t say that that was historically necessary. But even though you could make arguments for like if Kubla Khan didn’t have all these wives, then the world would be less pop populated. You could make sure some things, Yeah, but just using your macro example and forming it’s just a micro example Is that a boy growing up in and the mostly unsafe household it would be, in a sense, dangerous. Two be emotionally soft and vulnerable and expressive, especially with his family, because the context wouldn’t be safe. And so understanding that although it’s not like hopefully, you can have out other sources where we can process, um, his emotions with people but growing up in the household that it’s not safe to do that, it’s adaptive to become emotionally stuck. There were, at least definitely understandable. But the thing is, over time, these often get rigidly embodied, and so when that danger is passed, then you’re unable to actually change and access that. So I think what you talk about human evolution is that what’s necessary at one plan. Time no longer becomes necessary, and that’s when change needs to occur on. I totally agree with that


Andrew Bracewell: and we find ourself, I guess, in that awkward spot today where we’ve still got we’ve got portion of the population that is still alive, that it could be argued that grew up in a time where some of those things you just mentioned were relevant and necessary, or just at least a part of their context. And now we’re in a place where it’s not as relevant or not is needed. And this is where conflict, you know, can grow. I think of I have a hard time not thinking of how war plays its impact in this conversation, you know, to have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of men, primarily I know there was women, but primarily men go off into a battlefield and probably out of necessity, clothes off a part of their humanity, intern emotionally and whatever, in order to do what needed to be done and then come home and reintegrate those people into society. And then those people have Children and, you know, impact generations to come like that. That has to be part of what were were fighting against. Given that the last, you know, we’re not that far removed from wars. We in fact, we still haven’t been that Is that Is that fair?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, the generational trauma and also the sense that, um this is when people talk about how patriarchy hurts men as well is that in order to reinforce power like men have sacrificed largely men have sacrificed their lives and as well is there their emotional lives for fighting for other people? And it’s super difficulty. You can understand why they would be so much backlash and controversy in critiquing that system because it would be hard to separate O. If you’re critiquing the system that that promotes thes ideals that we hold up to have sacrifice and honor and warlike, I won’t lie. I was tempted to join the Army as well. Like it’s not like I have anything, um, to critique of action at all of soldiers who do that. But critiquing the system could be dangerous for people because then you’d have to question the extent of the sacrifice and the costs and benefit analysis of of this trauma overseas coming back home, the PTSD and the impact on the family. Um, yeah. It’s something that so much empty four soldiers as part of the larger conversation, though, about how power structures and how governments rely on the sacrifice of males.


Andrew Bracewell: War is What is that saying? War’s old man talking in young men dying? Yeah, think that’s that probably sums it up. I do think it’s it’s fair to say, I would say the reasonable to say in the in the in the war conversation. At least this would be my opinion. I realized people might, you know, not like me for this, But I would go so far as to say that war has been and is absolutely necessary at times, you know, there are there times in history where you know things like that needed to occur. But just because something’s necessary needs to happen does not mean that you’re gonna then avoid the psychological catastrophe that goes along with it. And the PTSD and the, you know, on the generational stuff that we’re talking about, it’s grey. It’s not black and white, it’s it’s just the way it is.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, and and even if some hold opinion, that’s necessary. Um, they had delighting in It is a totally other thing. You are embracing it, Um, fully without realizing the significance of it is different.


Andrew Bracewell: So you maybe don’t know this how I came to know you are no of you was through Instagram It’s at re dot emasculated right, Well, get well, we’ll make sure where we get that clear for the for the listener. But I’m I’m probably alone in my bed at some 0.0.6 or nine months ago and I’m doing the whatever get lost in Instagram space thing. And I come across your feed and I get curious And the thing that got me was some of your content curation in your posts. And you know, of course, that led me to understand what it is you’re all about and what you’re researching. So for the sake of today, what I thought we could do together to continue to spark great conversation with I I drew a few. I pulled a few things out of your feed that I know when I read them, I went all that’s that’s interesting her. I want to talk about that, And so if it’s alright with you, that’s what we’re gonna do now and I’ve got I’ve got a few I wanna I wanna pull out and then look at you and say Go start talking. Um and it’s not all your words. I mean you, you you’re what you do here is sometimes you quote people. Sometimes you come up with your own thought. And then you know what sparked this great conversation and and, you know, sometimes it’s in the conversation or or the original post that I’m most interested. But here’s a post you made. It’s a quote and it says Francis 2000. I guess you could tell us who Frances is. But boys tend to think an ideal student is one who behaves well. Girls tend to think an ideal student is one that learns Well, okay, go. This is where you go. I go. What is that? Fill? Fill in the gaps. Where does that come from? What does that mean?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Well, I think this speaks to something subconsciously, or I think this speaks to kind of my main missions with gender awareness is that there’s lots of subconscious things we assume about gender, and we don’t realize how different those messages can be for males and for female students particularly. And so, like I said earlier, with my participants, knowing that they were viewed as the bad boys. It’s the stereotype and the commonly reinforce thing that male students are the problematic ones. So it makes sense that they would think that good students have good behavior because they’re always getting in trouble for their bad behavior. And female students have a different message on. There’s lots of research to back this up that generally females are silenced, taught to sit still and be studious. And so that’s what they internalize more is that to be a good student means to be academically gifted. And so I would argue that those gender messages harm all genders, but in different ways.


Andrew Bracewell: Okay, so this you’re kind of hitting on the question so that the thought that popped in my head when I saw this and I actually wrote it down months ago and I still had it. So here was my thought. It was this. What does this say about teacher and or parental messaging to these kids?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: So there’s research that shows parents, fathers and mothers tend to talk to their female Children differently than they talk to the male Children about emotional events. So both parents, mothers and fathers are more likely. Two Use a motive language when talking with their females Children, and they’re more likely to embrace feelings of sadness and scared this with their daughters. Where is the reverse is true in that if their son go suit to something sad or scary, there were way less likely to empathize and reflect that like Oh, you were feeling scared or sad are less likely. Do that with their sons and some resurgence in schools. And what teachers also do is that they actually tend to be more encouraging of students of male students if they get a question wrong. Um oh, good try, that’s that’s, Ah, not the right answer. Um, where’s the female? Gets a question wrong. More like Maur likely to say up? Nope, not in that right Answer Anyone else. And so there’s just not saying all. Even most teachers do that, but there are just subtle things that we’ve internalized hour. If we’re if we’re not aware of them, it’s more easy for them to come out. It’s and I would use my own example as a teacher. I never thought twice about getting a male’s assignment. I had messy handwriting. Uh, but I becoming aware of it realized Oh, yeah, I If a female student has messy writing, I think, Oh, this looks like like I had the thought. It looks like a boy’s writing,


Andrew Bracewell: right? And subconsciously, there’s that you’ve attached something negative that you don’t attach to the male crab boy I have. So I have three Children 13 10 8 girl, boy, girl and I My experience in dealing with disciplinary issues in their school is that yes, boys and girls are handled differently.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yes, so I’m thinking of other research articles I’ve read of classroom observations of and like, the research shows that, like teachers, generally give males more space like physical space and linguistic space in the classroom, so they talk disproportionately more than females. But often the teachers don’t like part of the reasons teachers don’t want too often be correcting these males. I’m such a high school levels who might talk back more to them, and they think, you know what? Like if they’re if this male student is whispering to another student like I’m not going to address that cause. That’s what’s gonna cause more of a problem. And then all of a sudden, that female person, you mostly in talks way less than the other student. And then the teacher gets right on that female student. Yeah, that’s a common theme that I see throughout. What I would say is that within the patriarchal system, which is school system falling or people have grown up in the system of gender is that females and males equally can perpetuate the stereotypes. It’s not the onus. A lot of the onus about masculinity and changing narratives is on men for sure. But right now of a pink phone case, and I’ve only been made fun of its from females, not for males, right? And so there. Yeah, Sometimes people assume that’s just males perpetuating the restrictive


Andrew Bracewell: way. Both played this game and and women both played and


Brendan Kwiatkowski: the research on teachers people think, oh, it the solution would be saved. If we have more male teachers, I can’t I can’t think of stats off top of my head. But 70 or 80% of teachers, maybe 73% of teachers in BC or female across elementary school school.


Andrew Bracewell: Got it.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: And so people think, Oh, if you don’t have more male teachers that be solved the problem. But research on male teachers have shown the same things that it doesn’t matter if you’re female and male. If you’re more likely, it’s what you’re one or the other. You’re not more likely to perpetuate the gender norms. It just matters on if you individually perpetuate them or not. So your gender doesn’t predict as a teacher whether you you’re going to be one way or the other. But just because elementary school teachers are primarily all female, Um, yeah, you’re gonna come across the females embodying higher standards on female students. Often


Andrew Bracewell: this situation that I’ve been dealing with in my own family with my own Children has brought to my mind a name of somebody who’s created some polarization. And you know the context of this current conversation. Jordan Peterson. Yes, and I do not want to go down to Jordan. We don’t not need to go down to Jordan Peterson Rabbit Trail, but there is something that Jordan talked has talked about, which came to my mind in this context. He talks about agreeableness and I’m not. I don’t again. I don’t want to get into a sighting Jordan Peterson and the accuracy of his data. But anecdotally, it’s relevant for this conversation. He makes a statement that says, possibly one of the reasons females find themselves positionally and culture, and in jobs, you know where they do is because they tend to be more agreeable than men. And when I read that and you know, I thought through that and you think about your own life and different circumstances, you know, and he needs sites. Some examples. You know, a man is more likely to use anger or aggression to get what they want. A female is may be less likely to, and whether or not that’s right or wrong, it can pay benefits in the context of our world, whether it’s, you know, trying to block bust through a ceiling at a job or get the next management position, or just fight for something that you want, regardless of whether the intentions were good or not.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, I would look at that and say it has pauses and negatives ramifications for all genders because, um, yes, agreeableness, um, might make you avoid the radar about the same time. Then there’s the double standard. When fuels get in touch with your anger, like the consequences air crazy, severe that we don’t take them seriously. They’re hysterical. Yes, females in politics.


Andrew Bracewell: You know how you’re crazy. You’re crazy. Yep.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: And so, yeah, I can’t speak totally to adjoin, Pearson says about agreeableness, other than there is for sure, double standards at play on. And there’s a great book about females. Anger. I’m called Rage, but comes here and that is a great read. And and, yeah, I think I think anger for I know I’m talking about, ah, lot of dualism about males and females. As if, uh, there’s not more diverse genders out there. But for the sake of simplicity is that males and females have it. Both of them have an interesting relationship with anger, and our society is an interesting relationship with how they perceive anger from both that needs to be reworked and deconstructed.


Andrew Bracewell: Okay, next, Instagram post males levels of emotional restriction increases during adolescence, as do their disproportional suicide rates. So we’re back. This is the emotional restriction thing that we touched on that I wanted to come back to. So first, let’s just maybe define emotional restriction and then get into the piece about you know how that’s related to suicide rates. So


Brendan Kwiatkowski: emotional restriction could be defined as your willingness to share what you’re feeling with yourself and with others. So the willingness and the second part of it, which it could be both, would be your ability to share your emotions with yourself or with others. So what you’re feeling, um, things that you’re going through, And it’s kind of this Catch 22 because, um, some people are willing to share but lack the ability to actually know how to share. So when I had talked to boys a vote, emotions like, What were you guys feeling? It’s actually hard because they’ll have the language to put to it, so they have some willingness. But no, I’m not no ability, but they have less of an ability to actually speak about it. And then you have other people that are very emotionally aware of what’s going on with them, but they’re not willing to open up to anyone else. And so emotional restriction kind of compass is both of those things.


Andrew Bracewell: So within the mail talking about the boys you’re discussing. Why do the board the boys that lack the ability to talk? Why is that related to the topic? Or is that just randomness that, like, you know, some boys and some girls lack the ability to talk about their emotions?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Oh, definitely. Some females do as well. But I would say this goes back to what I was saying about how parents talk to their Children about emotional events and viewing emotional intelligence or emotional language and expressiveness as something you have to learn over time as well. And so the fact that females often have more social emotional play also trains them to talk more about emotional things. Um, whereas males, if their parents aren’t reflecting back their sadness or their fear as much, then they’re gonna have less ability or capacity to do that and to understand how to do that.


Andrew Bracewell: So is this a byproduct of the fact that again we’re talking on average is here? That mine will say, My my girls grew up, you know, played with hypothetically Barbies and my little pony, which draws out different things than the boy or my boy that grew up playing with G I. Joe Transformers like, Is it all? It’s got to be right. It’s all connected to that because from a young age they’re allowed to. We’re allowing our Children to do things differently based on what we’re doing in the home. Correct?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, And I would say it’s not that biology doesn’t play a role at all. But if you look at the types of toys that are encouraged in boys and females, I care way less about the color of them. But it’s the type of toys given two boys encourages more tactile spatial awareness, and the types of toys for females encourages more social emotional player.


Andrew Bracewell: Got it? So these things don’t have to be bad for a boy. It could be a dump truck and building blocks or whatever. Is that a fair that that’s an example of what you’re talking about, right?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, like, yeah, My big thing is that most stereotypical masculine or feminine things aren’t bad enough of themselves. They’re only bad when they become rigidly enforced on yourself or on others.


Andrew Bracewell: Right? You need to play with this because this at the toy that you play with Yeah, got it


Brendan Kwiatkowski: and I think without that gender awareness, people often assume, Oh, my son is just so different from my daughter, and it’s because their innate Lee biologically different. But there’s all these things at play from before they’re even born that we start thinking about. I’m gonna play catch with my son that kind of as parents, we can get down these thoughts about like we can start thinking about our Children based on their genders, um, differently. And so it’s hard to prise what’s actually in eight lee biologically different from your son compared to your daughter. Yes, and what is just a regurgitation of the social construction that you’re not even aware of that you’re promoting in your son and our daughter?


Andrew Bracewell: Totally So then the so the emotional restriction that you know clearly you observe then and we’ll even we can talk about your people. You’re dealing with her just, you know, culturally as a whole. What’s the relationship then to the disproportionate rates of suicide and men and in women?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I will disclaim that I’m not an expert about suicide like emotions for sure, and I come across a lot of suicide articles, but there are definitely researchers that devote themselves just to sure all the literature. Yeah, and Sue says complicated. I don’t know if I represent earlier, but that females attempt to commit suicide more frequently.


Andrew Bracewell: Yeah, you said that I didn’t want to stop your thought, but that was interesting. So they attempted Maur. But they’re successful less.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, And so a lot of it goes down to the types of ways that females try to often is viewed as, like sometimes more often viewed as their suicide attempt is, in itself, a call for help. Or if they use less drastic means, they have, ah, ability for people to find them and save them in time. So it’s It’s complicated, and I’m oversimplifying it. Whereas males tend to use more dramatic means,


Andrew Bracewell: which can be more lethal means


Brendan Kwiatkowski: more lethal lines. Yep, and it’s, um, some people say it’s more impulsive, so there’s less forethought into their suicide attempts. And so there’s less, um, chance or awareness of other people knowing about it. Yeah, and I’ll speak to some of my own experience. Um, is that part of my research has been born from people that I know who have commit suicide, including a student. And I think because there’s less avenues for males to speak about emotions, that there’s less signs, um, quotes in quotes, sure less signs for people to be aware of in males. And that is also part of the reason why there it just might be less things in place. But then the messaging that they have to have keep it all together as a man, and then when something falls apart, they have less coping mechanisms. Um, so that all plays in with emotions. At least it definitely correlates to the ability to make a motion, are to experience and express their emotions. And to go back to that instagram post is that they call it the double bind. Or there’s that kind of two boy crisis is. And whereas there’s also a female crisis, what has been called that is that for males ah, around the age of five, when they start school in kindergarten, that is when they’ve already internalized That’s not okay as okay to show emotions when actually, the research shows that before that age, boys are often Maur emotional than females in terms of displaying their emotions. And so H five is a turning point. And then Grade six around that age is another turning point where those pressures to become emotional, restricted and become a man the typical stereotypical sense. Um, the pressures increase dramatically after that point. Where is for females? They’re allowed to be tomboys longer. It’s more OK than if your son is playing. People generally have are more okay with their daughters being tomboys for longer, and that changes around the age of puberty. And that’s when females often get hyper sexualized,


Andrew Bracewell: right? 12 13 14 area. But boys air having to drop their quote unquote feminine characteristics at grade six


Brendan Kwiatkowski: or even earlier engine earlier like H 45 is when they’re aware of it, God, especially around sadness and fear. Like I’m not scared I’m not. Yeah, sad. And so I hate suffering contests like I don’t like comparison to females or males. Have it worse like sure, and so I don’t mean to say that’s my cab. It to what I’m about to say, is that arguably, because males get socialized to restrict earlier often than females, who are on 12 13 there’s less brain development. And so there’s more long term emotional consequences


Andrew Bracewell: Because you’re because you’re dealing with an underdeveloped brain.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, and so they’ve just had less of life lived experiencing their emotions. Marfa Lee. Okay, we


Andrew Bracewell: can use. We can use me as a guinea pig with excellent if you want. Anger is often the quickest way for men to regain the lost sense of power.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I actually slightly misquoted it.


Andrew Bracewell: Okay, Well, I think I think the message is still accurate.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: It’s true. But how I phrased it is actually true for almost all people is that ain’t like us. One of the purposes of anger is but unfortunately often repress and females to get in touch with their anger because they don’t think that can be angry because they may be have to be agreeable. But the one good thing about anger is that it lets us know that some boundary has been crossed and we oppose that boundary, and so it angers a way for us to get back into it. But the actual quote is more that violence is often the easiest way for men. Um feel powerful if they’ve lost that sense of power. So in terms of like the boys I’ve worked with in the past is if something’s getting eft up in their life, Um, they will punch a locker. They have tons of holes in the drywall in their bedrooms that their parents don’t know about because they’re covered in posters. Sure, it was like I gotta put another poster today because because when, yeah, when you don’t have many outlets, anger is a great tool. But without proper outlet, it gets often turn into violence. I’m not saying that most men turned to violence because most men don’t turn to violence when they’re angry. But it’s just anger is often connected to physical harm against self or others.


Andrew Bracewell: It might also be to that men turn your boys turned to an acceptable form of violence like I can. I think, back to my own life. I can remember turmoil and trauma and anxiety in my household for various reasons, and I used you know, at the time I would I played hockey, played basketball. I remember using that as outlets and like there are circumstances where maybe I did something on the ice surface in a more aggressive way than I normally would. And, you know, maybe I was channeling something or, you know, does that make sense? Like I do feel like I had those acceptable. Oh, that’s where I was. Still, it might have still been anger or violence, but it was okay that I was doing it there. Had I not had that outlet, maybe I’m blasting a hole in the wall, er blasting somebody in the face. I have no idea. But I had those options.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, and I think there’s a hierarchy of, um, helpful ways express anger and what you spoke to earlier about the evolution. Yes, in the sense of our process in our relationship with anger is that, like for one of the boys, instead of breaking his fingers punching a locker, he would you learn to scream or yell into his pillow or punches pillow like, way better, That’s great. And then they would like I would just recommend that, like keep on working on every stage to minimize harm against others first on and then harm against yourself because, yeah, men, like a lot of that violence, is towards themselves


Andrew Bracewell: so clearly anger is a normal in it. It’s got to be a normal and acceptable human emotion. But where our men using it improperly to regain a sense of power or to gain power.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I think part of the thing is that there’s a lack of awareness about why they have anger, and so that anger is leading them. So there is a lack of awareness that power even has anything to do with it. They’re just angry because they’re angry. Like, um, some the boys I talked to, um, were physically abusive towards their girlfriends Or, um so But talking with them is that like they didn’t know why they were angry, just came over them, and it felt like they describe it. And this is in the research as well. Like they don’t now why they’re angry. Just a switch flipped in their brains and then they were suddenly lashing out. Um, physically. And I think that speaks to the unawareness that, like anger, is often a secondary emotion, meaning that there’s something behind the anger. So are you angry because you got betrayed because you, um, felt guilt or felt shame? And I think shame is a huge part of that conversation. Is that it is so much easier. Thio externalize, um, your anger than to actually look inward. And Donald Trump has a great quote. My favorite quote by Donald Trump, he was asked, not too long ago. Made a couple years ago, Um, what does he kind of like? A six and an introspective question. And he answered, I don’t like analyzing myself too much because I might not like what I find


Andrew Bracewell: right, which, which is probably quite


Brendan Kwiatkowski: the most vulnerable I’ve ever heard Trump be. Yeah, and I think that speaks to a lot of men is that they’re scared of what they’ll find inside. Um, if they explore the anger and so they don’t want to be angry. But the thing is, if you deny that you are angry or you deny like, Oh, no, I can control it without actually processing what’s underneath You’re just arguably a ticking time bomb for when the anger does come out in an uncontrolled way. That’s why one of my reframes with the work I do is that actually doing things that were deemed emasculating, like processing your emotions, talking about your feelings, being vulnerable, not throwing the punch takes more a different kind of strength. I would argue amore deeper, important strength. Um then why has previously been called masculine? And so it’s his reframing that, like doing your own emotional work, is so tough. Like to know where the mask to wear the mask as it is. It’s hard. It’s a burden to wear the mask of always being fine, not where the mask is also excruciatingly hard.


Andrew Bracewell: Well said So where I land in my brain in this topic and why I was so interested in your research and wanted to do this with you here today. One of the reasons I should say Not the only reason. I have no doubt in my mind that, you know, 30 40 years today from today we’re gonna be way better then we are today and better than we were. I mean, clearly, you know, the researcher doing the conversations were happening. We were having we weren’t doing this and you know, that’s evolution, and that’s amazing. However, that doesn’t solve Hull of today’s problems. And so I’m a 39 year old man raising a child running a company. I have colleagues where men I have people who are men who work for me, and we don’t We’re not fortunate enough to have. You know these types of philosophy is exposed to us when we’re 5679 10 12. Whatever. Right. So I feel a little lost because you can’t unknown what you know. So I’m aware of some things, which is good, but what the? You know, like what? You know, I don’t want it. I don’t want to screw up my son. I want to be, you know, the best leader I can be. But I’m intimately aware of the fact that I’m screwed up and I don’t have it all figured out. So what do what do we do for, you know, the people who are 40 and 50 and 60 years old and who are willing to acknowledge that this is a bit of a mess. We got ourselves in.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah. Admitting that you have admitting that we’ve gotten into a mess and ability to self critique is a huge first step to realize that you might not want to propagate things that you grew up with. And I think I can definitely empathize with the feelings of So what if we’ve built our identities around these things and then you’re saying that these air evolving, and that’s what is my identity. And and that is this liminal flux space that provides tons of uncertainty. And, um, it’s much simpler when there’s an easy gender narrative that this is my role. Um, stick with it, Um, because it’s simple vs great question and really gets to the heart of, I think, some of the deficits in the conversation. There’s a lot of deconstruction. It’s not always constructive deconstruction. So how do we make him, um, how do we tell people what the to do? Huh? Is is a huge challenge. Um, and what you’ve already just described is modeling your own process on own vulnerability, that your work in progress that you’re it’s okay to change your mind about things about different beliefs. Because the research shows that male role models are really significant to help, um, younger males become less restrictive. But on Lee, if those male role models are also doing their own emotional work and becoming emotionally attuned and things like that,


Andrew Bracewell: right, you can only lead somebody where you yourself have gone.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, and like it can I know personally can often be harder. It’s so actually, I find it so easy to critique myself. It’s much harder to extend love towards myself and grace in that process. And I think for a moment, kids, if they actually know that like Dad loves himself, even with his old is his work in progress and not messing things up, Um, that’s super huge. And so, like my my advice toe about masculinity, femininity in general is like, yeah, extend a lot. People are worried that like, Oh, my being to one way or another way And I think for me it comes back to The danger’s went rigid when what you think about gender has to be rigid and so just trying to not like your daughter. Can’ts can’t be more feminine, stereotypically feminine or your son more too stereotypical masculine. But it’s just ensuring and checking in with them that their that it’s not because they have to be that way, like there’s other options. Yes, um, and being aware that I’m part of that conversation is talking to your Children. Let’s say your son does one way Hank Winnie’s in high school that is going to potentially cause bullying and just being honest with him about that would be an open dialogue. And I think


Andrew Bracewell: so. Let me hold on. Let me just stop you there, because I just I think that’s a I think that’s a relevant thing I don’t want to miss out on. So if a child is doing something that as an adult you look at and you go Oh,, that could create a problem because we know it could create a problem rather than without them knowing, trying to get them to not wear that shirt or not wear those shoes, go to them and say, Hey, I gotta talk to you about something and then make bring them in on the conversation, give them the knowledge, and then just leave it there. Is that kind of what? You just let them know what they might encounter? Is that fair?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah. Like not do it to preemptively because you don’t wantto over assume that they’re going t o like you don’t create a problem that isn’t there. Yes. Yeah, but if a problem does does get there, then talking about it and not forcing change. Um, yeah, definitely would be a good advice.


Andrew Bracewell: What has been This is a massive topic, but I just I can’t help but ask it, because it’s now I’m just turning this into a story about my life and my Children. But what is going on in your experience with social media in the, um, you know, in your research in what you’re observing and in the adolescent, I guess its men and women What you’re researching men. Is there anything positive that’s happening there, or is it all just like I have? I’m so tainted and I just hate everything that I that I see. I mean, clearly there’s positive that comes from it. We’re talking, but tell me there’s something positive happening there. Yeah, I mean, And if you can’t, you can’t. But I’m


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I think the positive parts of social media is that especially for previously marginalized groups of people. So ah, people that might be gay in the hustle that’s not accepting of being gay, that they can find an online community or haven’t outlet to express themselves in a way that they can’t or aren’t.


Andrew Bracewell: Okay, that’s good.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Another positive is that they’re exposed to the negative influences, but also exposed can be exposed to positive ones or some influences who use a sort of platform as well. And so there’s more awareness of some racial issues, like there’s way more of a global mind set in the students that I taught based on social media of I want to say It’s amazing, like I think you’re European Children are generally more aware of global events, but there is this kind of global connecting this that said, there is a lot of negatives, and I spoke a couple times in different panels about masculinity at the University of Edinburgh with undergrad students and the common theme, which I was actually slightly surprised by. There’s a guess Enough of a generation gap between me. Use 29 in the university. Students here, like early twenties, is that they said, like Instagram is so terrible for their sense of body image. Yeah, And that and for males, that was the common theme, just like how terrible Instagram was for them. Uh huh. And so, yeah, there’s unrealistic expectations on males bodies. Yeah, but as a teacher, there is so much sexting and like dangerous, borderline illegal stuff based on age of consent and sharing things that I then get something. I think this loss of sexual shame in our culture. So we don’t talk your Children nearly enough about sex, education and consent and things like that.


Andrew Bracewell: And it’s become this wildly unregulated medium, you know, like it’s not like it’s not fair to say that before we had, you know, cell phones and kids had access to social media, that this stuff didn’t exist. Clearly, you know, the it existed in the minds of humans. But now there’s this channel on this avenue that it can happen and it’s largely unregulated. Parents don’t know what’s going on. Teachers. It’s not teachersjobs of regulated and yeah, I mean, it scares the out of me. I have, you know, for all my kids and I don’t know what I don’t know what to do with that, cause you know what? You’re not gonna I don’t believe the right answer is to restrict a child from a from twice until they’re 18 years old. I mean, that’s not good either. Um, but I just It’s been hard for me to find positive elements to it, that’s for sure.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah. From what I’ve glimpsed on the social media research is that limiting, like no having their phones in their bed. Bedroom before bed is significant.


Andrew Bracewell: It’s huge. Yeah, yeah, I want to go back to one thing that we When I introduced you earlier, I took an excerpt from an article. The article that you wrote was somewhat in response to a Gillette ad campaign, which was cool that I saw this cause I have on my own prior to knowing you are reading this article, I was aware of the ad campaign. I found it fascinating. I saw the response to it. And, you know, there was. There was outrage on both sides of the conversation. So I just want a dialogue with you a little bit, but it particularly on the response. So for those that I don’t know what I guess, you’ll have to go online and look at it. Just Google Gillette ad campaign, and it’ll blow up your computer. But Gillette used to be, you know, Gillette, the best a man can get. You can remember that jingle in your head from the eighties and nineties or whatever that was. And then some time recently, here it is. In the last year and 1/2 or two. Gillette did this, you know, one and 1/2 minute video is it was more along the lines of is really the best a man can be. And you know, it highlighted a lot of the things that we’ve discussed here today in a very artistic you know, amazing one and 1/2 minute clip way where they talked about, you know, bullying and shaming and sexual abuse. And they really called out men. And when I watched it for the first time, I didn’t even know howto I can’t say that that I would even know how to define the emotions that I had when I watched it. I think that I probably felt some conviction. I think that I also I didn’t like parts of it. I felt it was like focusing on a lot of negatives. And then, you know, Jillette released it in the world, blew up and they got I mean, the people were divided. I just want to hear you. You talk about that a little bit because clearly you took notice of it as well.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, and it’s I often find myself in this weird place in that, like working with males and being a male myself, like and especially like a white male. Um, I understand. I can easily see what they’ve reaction is going to be from from generally white males. Um, and yet at the same time, I totally understand why that commercial was made and the message behind it. Um and so, Yeah, Generally, I generally agree with the message of the Gillette commercial because I am able to separate that critiquing masculinity is not critiquing men. Yes, and there’s some critiques actually do have, like, I would if I was designing. I would change it to be a bit more nuanced because I find the conversation in our media about masculine is often very polarized. And so I know a lot of men felt shamed from that commercial. Um, I know some of men, so some of the backlash was just thinking that the company isn’t genuine about it. And so there’s this. There’s different backlash is that you have to kind of separated some of this backlash about the industry of it. The there wasn’t anything there


Andrew Bracewell: was an integrity gap because they were, you know, taking ah higher road, if you would say that. But then within their own company and they were called out for this. There were producing some of their razors with questionable labor, you know, in various parts of the world. And then they got called out because within the hierarchy of the company, in the upper levels of management, there were some. You know, man, woman issues go going on that you know, we’re contradictory to the messaging that they had in the ads, so dot So I came first to know about the commercial. Actually, there’s a There’s an amazing Canadian marketing guy by the name Iran Tight who wrote an amazing book called Think to Say And he used this story, um, it for his philosophy in the book, which we don’t need to get into the narrative that right now. But a lot of the backlash was not because what they were trying to say was a bad thing. But it’s a bad thing to say it if you don’t have your own house in order. And so they got called out for the integrity of it, if that makes sense. But that’s only part of the backlash. I think what you’re talking about. There was another tons of people who just felt shamed and that it was beating up on men.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, and that, um also racism was a part of the conversation from the backlash is that people argued some people argued that the only men that were seemed to be doing good in the commercial were men of color, right? And so there’s just also because it’s online and YouTube in general is highly. The population is highly mail as well. Male dominated space is that you have a lot of backlash due to the fact that, um, they think it’s feminist propaganda on and assume said with feminist, that’s gonna get people’s backs up and they can’t hear anything because I will defend that. They’re essentially they miss the point of the commercial, right? You can argue whether you think it was shaming, and if shame is an effective way to promote change and things like that. But the message behind men being better, you look at it. Statistically speaking, I think I would say Yes, man can be better, but I don’t like one of the things that I say is that I definitely don’t think most men are toxic, but I do think a lot of men are bystanders and speaking up in situations. Um, with other male peers and male colleagues, that is the difficult thing. So that I think, is a good challenge. But I don’t love the term toxic masculinity. I much prefer restrictive masculinity because I feel like that gets to What’s that play here?


Andrew Bracewell: Did you see the A guard or a guard watches response to the Gillette commercial? Yeah. And what did you think of that?


Brendan Kwiatkowski: So that commercial, if I remember correctly, was like showing what it may men in all these heroic like fields


Andrew Bracewell: case. So what? Yes, so what? It was really interesting. So it took. They took, um, so they would take a clip from something. A scene of a man doing something, and they use clips of, like, a fireman. Ah, you know, a police officer, somebody in war or, you know, whatever. And then they looked, And then they ran data, and it was accurate, Dad across the bottom and talked about, you know, death rate amongst men in the workforce. Suicide rates, likelihood to have a significant injury at work. Um, this was a very interesting statistic in the ad. Men who’ve the percentage of men who’ve lost all visitation rights. Two Children through a separation who still pay falls child support even though they can’t see their kids, which I’ve actually never even thought of. That statistic. Until I and then I looked at that, I went, Holy, it’s above above 50% of men who never see their kids because they’ve lost the ability to still pay for them. Anyways, it ran these starts, and it used words like brave hero, protector, vulnerable, disposable when they talked about, you know, death rates and things like that. And then, of course, you know that. So they took advantage of an opportunity. And then the end of the ad was, you know, men, we we want you to know that we love and appreciate you. And then it goes, you know, a guard watches or whatever, so I mean, it’s marketing. Let’s not get lost in what it is. But I just wanted to Here you talk about that,


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, a couple thoughts, one that devolves the conversation into a pissing contest about who’s got it worse off. Yep, And I would look at those stats and argue you’ve got, like, most I think the stats are fairly accurate.


Andrew Bracewell: I didn’t back Check the stats s Oh, I should say I’m not a researched individual.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I will not like. I’m sure they are roughly accurate. They would


Andrew Bracewell: have to be if they


Brendan Kwiatkowski: were at the very least, um, but I would argue that that is this. That is, evidence that patriarch. It also hurts men. The fact that they’re disposable isn’t a result of females pill. The political systems putting them that place, it’s that they are viewed as disposable. And that’s what um, I won’t say all feminists, but the feminism that I would describe to definitely, um believes in is promoting the well being for men and women. And how do we raise them up together? It’s so that men’s lives aren’t viewed as disposable. But when we talk about male privilege, which is what the backlash is primarily about, like Oh, yeah, it’s a privilege that men have such high suicide rates and, um, put ourselves in harm’s way in danger. That’s not the type of privilege that is being talked about. Well, it’s being talked about in media, but, like I said, is not the nuanced actual conversation about privilege. Privilege has to do with your access to power s Oh, yes, men have super dangerous jobs, but the access to power is that they have more choice over over what jobs that could have or not. Where’s females are often limited, or if they were in those jobs we’ve been, we’re likely to be sexually harassed or just for us to some extent. So privilege isn’t saying that men don’t have very hard lives and very traumatic things doesn’t diminish anything that men go through. It just says that your gender doesn’t play a role or that your access to power isn’t limited based on your gender. And so, like a feminists would argue with the suicide rates that, like it’s yeah, it’s your scripting. That means you can’t show your emotions that you have to be this way, like the way that you if you think that you have to sacrifice your life for someone else like yet I have a hard time not viewing that as honorable as well, like. I would sacrifice my life for my child, but my wife would sacrifice her life.


Andrew Bracewell: It’s for Children. It’s the Braveheart way of thinking were it’s Mel Gibson mentality.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, yeah, and it definitely speaks to something within us, whether that’s biological or just socialized. I’m not sure, but I think the commercial show that the dialogue around the conversation but masculine is often missing the mark or they’re speaking about different things.


Andrew Bracewell: Yeah, and And let’s not forget that commercials air from a particular point of view with a goal to make money. So it’s not necessarily an accurate depiction.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: I also will jump on something that you referenced in that Can you speak about something if you don’t have your whole house in order? And I think I definitely want to live that way for my sick like I’m I take it very seriously that I’m doing research about emotional restriction in men. I better make sure that I am practicing what I’m preaching, that I’m doing my own emotional work at the same time. I’m doing this academic research because I get jaded by researchers your research a topic area, but don’t actually live it out in their personal lives, right? So I definitely thing it makes more sense, but the same time, like a company, so many people can they speak about can they evolve in one area before another area is involved in Like I think of Brooklyn 99 pretty socially.


Andrew Bracewell: I love what you’ve circled back to Brooklyn 99 By the way, all of life’s comes after work tonight. I


Brendan Kwiatkowski: think of how they’re quite socially attuned to love racial dynamics, gender dynamics. Um, and they don’t abuse that in how they use humor. But one of I would argue one of their blindsides is with Terry and his fat suit and how they talk about fatness. Yeah, and so that is like just shows that people and institutions are working progress. And I think we need to have more grace for people to have a messy understanding. Um, because I know I know males and females who have just been ripped to shreds by feminists because they’re not feminist enough, huh? And then, at the same time, men who get ripped to shreds by the men for not being mad enough. So people are claiming this authority and not often recognizing that, like we have complex contradictions within ourselves that we’re still working through. Absolutely. And it’s gray. There’s a lot of gray,


Andrew Bracewell: and if we adopt a position that a person can’t speak to a topic unless they’ve got that topic completely figured out. Which, for starters, is a problem because there’s varying interpretations of who gets to determine what’s worked out, what’s not worked out. But if we have that philosophy, then nobody can speak because show me, show me the person of the society or the organization that’s actually got everything figured out. It’s I would argue that it’s it’s hard to find and you know, back to that statement about the integrity gap. Speaking about the you know, the Gillette thing, you know the context of that. To be fair, to the writer in the book was that, you know, if you’re a multinational company and you want to run an international ad campaign that speaks to gender equality issues, being one of the things, then you better make damn sure that in your highest levels of management, you don’t have that going on. Is that going on in the company at all times? Absolutely. But it can’t be going on in the levels of your CEO or C or whatever, or you run the risk of, you know, the type of backlash that they dealt with so But I don’t think that’s the same as saying, You know, like in this context, in these conversations, we’re having these conversations, I think highly, valuable, unnecessary. We have to be able be allowed to talk about it without having everything completely figured out. And there I say, even they’re still being a contradiction in our lives because if we can’t, then nobody’s nobody’s gonna be able to talk.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Yeah, the one disclaimer add is that we should be able to talk about it, but not necessarily in a position of authority. We’re definitely not in a position of authority. If we’re talking about something that we don’t one, haven’t done the research on or have haven’t done a wide breath of talking to you about a subject like as long as you qualify, what you’re saying? Sure, yeah, And generally I think we need to do better about listening, right? I early on in my teaching career, I saw that there’s a danger with having a cap, like almost literally a captive audience every single day. I just saw in some other teachers, but I could see it myself that you can start thinking that what you have to say is really important if you have people that are always listening to what you have to say. And so that’s something I’m often actually reflect upon and make sure I’m not going to that level of o podcast. Want to talk to me? That means what I have to say is worth sharing. Um, maybe it’s not. Maybe it maybe not all of it is. And I’m still learning on what parts are and what parts aren’t Brennan. I


Andrew Bracewell: can’t think of a better place, but that point right there to cap it and our time together. It’s been amazing talking to you. And I think, um, you put language to some things that need language. And at the very least, our conversation today has allowed some people that hear something’s dialogue about that, um, they need to hear and hopefully gives them permission to have some conversations that they haven’t been having internally. So, um, I thank you sincerely for your time, and I I hope we can do it again.


Brendan Kwiatkowski: Thanks. I love that


Andrew Bracewell: right. Take care. Years ago, there were philosophies that we accepted as truth that we now know our myth, and we have replaced those philosophies with a higher level of thinking. This is part of our evolutionary story. None of this would be possible without those who dared to ask tough and sometimes unpopular questions. However, results are worth the price paid by those who created the controversy by questioning what was believed to be true way. Now know that the Earth isn’t flat. Son doesn’t revolve around the earth. There isn’t a superior race, and being gay is not a disease. Brendan is asking questions about things that can be uncomfortable in his research is likely to reveal broken philosophies and unhealthy patterns in our beliefs about masculinity. Although I enjoyed my time with Brendan, I was uncomfortable at times because it became clear to me that I have my own thought patterns and beliefs that aren’t the best for me or those I love. These conversations aren’t easy to have privately or publicly, but we need to give ourselves permission to get things wrong in our pursuit of what is right and trust people like Brendan Toe lead us where we need to be. Please don’t forget to check out the show notes. If you want more information on the show or on Brendan. He can be found on instagram r e dot masculine. You can also find us on Instagram or on Twitter. Thanks for joining us today.

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