For the Love of Men


Written by: Kelly Fisher


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Photo by: Aaron Thomas

Last winter while I was back home in Minneapolis for the holidays, I was driving around running errands on a cold December day.   Flipping through radio stations I settled on my local NPR station, and  heard an interview that immediately caught my attention and caused me to pull over so I could make a note of who was speaking.   

As it would turn out, it was Liz Plank  discussing her book  For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful  Masculinity.   I was struck by both Liz’s sense of humor in the interview  and the important points she was making about the way in which society talks about men and masculinity.  As someone who was getting their Master’s in Gender Studies, I knew this was a book that I had to get a copy of.    

Our Current Definition of Masculinity 

Liz cuts straight to the point on the first page of her book: 

“There is no greater threat to humankind than our current definitions of masculinity.”

As she notes herself, this may seem like an exaggerated statement,  but throughout her book she makes a compelling case for  her argument.  At the core of  the book  For the Love of Men lies  a question  asking  what is wrong with society’s  current  definitions of being a man, and how do we move forward to create new and  more mindful forms of masculinities?

Real World Examples 

Throughout the book,  Liz brings forward a variety of statistical evidence, real-world examples, and thoughtful insights to answer this question.  Covering a wide range of topics, the book explores why so many men are fearful of showing their emotions, what it is about masculinity that  compels men to engage in reckless and dangerous  behavior, and many others as well.    

The Father Figure 

My favorite chapter in the book is titled “Waffles Are His Love Language.” The chapter begins with Liz describing the way in which her father was engaged in her childhood—making waffles every  Sunday—and  in her opinion, his routine defied most of society’s ideas and pressures around what it means to be a man. 

As the chapter  progresses,  she brings her experiences with her dad into the larger picture  around the current state of fathering practices that exist in the world today.  Weaving together  examples of larger cultural debates and  interviews with gender and masculinity  experts such as  Jackson Katz, this chapter demonstrates one of the truly great facts of this book, the way in which Plank is able to  communicate complex ideas  and important information in a clear and thoughtful way.    

Short Essays About Men 

Another one of the more delightful parts of the book is the different  amuse-bouche’s  that  are mixed throughout.   I’ll admit, I had to Google what exactly amuse-bouche means, which is  a  French  term for an hors d’œuvre  which rather than you  ordering, is picked for you by the chef to go with your meal. 

In her book, these amuse-bouches  are short essays  focusing on men with a variety of different background experiences and challenges with society’s definition of being a man. 

 These include Wade Davis, one of the first openly gay NFL players,  Victor Pineda, who is a man of immigrant background with a disability, and Thomas McBee who is a trans journalist in the U.S.   These short essays also demonstrate another important detail of this book, which is  that these conversations about men  and masculinity must also be approached with an intersectional lens.  

An Important Book 

For the Love of Men is an important and timely book.   We sit in the middle of a rapid and changing society  in many regards, especially gender relations.

Plank’s book is a blueprint for how we  can chart new and healthier ways of being a man.  

 That is why we are excited to feature this   book the same week we are focusing on both men and women for gender equality.    

If you like the sound of this book, make sure you get yourself a copy.  Also  keep your eyes peeled for our own feature piece with Liz, where I will be sitting down and speaking with her about all things related to creating a new definition of what it means to be a man, and hopefully our shared love for waffles. •