Monday, September 9, 2013


Good Man Profiled

BuzzFeed today has a very good long BuzzRead about Thomas Matlack and his Good Men Project, the website he launched in 2010 with the intention of "fostering a national discussion centered around modern manhood and the question, 'What does it mean to be a good man?'" Theodore Ross had an afternoon of conversation with the 40-something-year-old, and he came away with a fascinating story and a handful of damning asides, such as:

(But not his wife. More than 15 years after their divorce, Matlack still struggles to be charitable about her. He says she’s working toward a Ph.D. in theology, a process he ascribes to a desire “to become some sort of nun.” Despite being “perfectly attractive,” he explains, she hasn’t entered another serious relationship since leaving him. “Too much of a bitch,” he adds, with some glee.)
(“We’re obsessed with Don Draper because he’s us. It’s like this guy is actually falling apart and you can’t see it. And we’re actually falling apart and we can’t see it.”)

(Where do they teach you to pack all of your punches into the parentheticals? Well, here's one.)

Matlack, like Hugo Schwyzer before him, has publicly announced that he's stepping away from the bloglight—in part, he says, because of the "virulent strain of feminism that has more or less taken over any discussion of gender anywhere." Sounds frustrating. But he saved his most damning assessment for his future prospects for himself:

So, he tells me, he will “step back” and “stay out of the limelight.” He will devote his free time to his family, his investments, and his workouts. He will foster his meditation practice — pillow and candle explained — and develop a book idea that he at first didn’t want to discuss but eventually described as “Eat, Pray, Love without going anywhere.”


Photo via tinker-tailor/flickr.


72 Comments / Post A Comment

Rock and Roll Ken Doll










I love this one! Lol! @l


deleted old comment, but i can never stop raging against how awful and patronizing and self aggrandizing i find the entire conceit of 'the good man project'.


@leonstj /raises hand, nominates leonstj


@katiemcgillicuddy (sorry, i edited my original comment cuz it was kind of me-centric, and like, i am a mad flawed person & didn't want to up myself, i just wanted to say i hate when dudes get up on their "we are heroes" shit)


@leonstj I stand by my nomination.


I made a "Beaker is dismayed" face the entire time I was reading that this morning, culminating in a full head explosion when I got to this:

A week later, I received an email from him. He’d written something about the Boston Marathon bombings and its connection to boys. “You have any use for this?” he asked. “At BuzzFeed or otherwise?”

This guy seems to be actually the worst.

Also, I hate that he lives one town over from where I grew up, but then I suppose I just basically hate everything about this guy.


@stonefruit MEEP MEEP MEEP! (head catches on fire from rage)


Uggghh, the Good Men Project. Worst of all is how it swallowed What About Teh Menz, which was an awesome blog about men and patriarchy run by Noah Brand and Ozy Frantz, and now all of it seems to have disappeared completely.

Springtime for Voldemort

@glitterary I struggled with NSBWATM a lot. I loooove Ozy, but they let a lot of MRAs comment - which, I get, I totally get that you can't set up a blog dedicated to understanding gendered oppression as it relates to men and then only let a teeny portion of the men comment. But damn, it made it so that I was nervous every single time I read the comments.

(Pro-tip: if you try really, really, really hard, you can sometimes get the Internet Archive to show you the old site, before it redirects to GMP.)

Loose Seal

I don't know which I have a more visceral reaction to: that lotus picture, or this guy. Hairpin, are you trying to get me to vomit all over my MacBook today???

Queen Elisatits

title or description


@Queen Elisatits It's pretty sad how frequently I find use for this gif.


"virulent strain of feminism that has more or less taken over any discussion of gender anywhere."

Yeah, it's like a scourge, isn't it, when feminists push back against men who make women's issues all about them and how "good" they are for centering themselves on every issue. What a bunch of rancid harpies we are, am I right, people?

Loose Seal

@Lu2 Rancid harpy 4 lyfe!


@Loose Seal Woo-hoo! Rancid high-five! :D


@Loose Seal p.s. omg your name. I just got that!


@Lu2 BRB getting RANCID HARPY tattooed across my stomach Tupac style.


@iceberg No lie, just checked my knuckles, sad I only have room for "\r a n c/ \h a r p/"


@adorable-eggplant you and I will know what it means.


@Lu2 I know, we should all just STFU and let the guys handle the feminism and all that. Pfft. Can't we see they have our best interests at heart and they are better at feminism, anyway?


@adorable-eggplant However, you CAN fit "MISANDRY."


@Lu2 I'm not even sure that's the issue! I think that just about any feminist will agree that a) the patriarchy effects men in negative ways and b) women's spaces are are not generally the space to talk about those issues. So having a place to talk about men's experience with gender issue isn't the problem, the problem is that they're doing it WRONG.


Fuck. That. Asshole.


Ha, is everyone on the internet insufferable? (Of course, I've been reading Slate today, so my sample may be skewed.)


@TheBelleWitch I know I am!


These guys piss me off even more than the MRA folks BC there's some kind of productive discussion to be had on these issues but now they've salted the earth for 10,000 years.


@stuffisthings Oh, well said.


@stuffisthings Amen.


Okay, this part got me: "Of his female critics: “This is a men’s site; who cares what you think? I don’t give a shit! We’re trying to have a conversation about what men actually feel. That might ruffle feathers with women, but they have a thousand places to talk about that. Go write for Jezebel, for God’s sake. Don’t do that here.”

The thing is, I understand the sentiment. The men want to have a place to work these things out among themselves, among people who understand. That's all well and good. I'm sure it would be helpful if it were possible. But the lack of understanding of the scope of what he's asking for and feels he's entitled to! This is the INTERNET. He should try being a woman talking about being a woman, and see just who butts in, trolls the joint, and stalks you. I mean, come on. I'm struggling not to use the phrase "his poor fee-fees," but gosh, I think I just did.


@Lu2 That false idea that the internet is "filled" with places to talk about what for lack of a better term I'm going to call women's issues is so obnoxious. The reason he's *noticing* them is because they're still not the norm.

Lily Rowan

@SarcasticFringehead We just learned (with the launch of Bustle) that there are none! None at all!


@Lu2 And what about the seven million MRAs who comment on Jezebel all the time? Is he mad at them?


@slutberry Yyyyup.


I think it'd be nice to have a "Good Person Project" where people just do good things for other people, nobody discusses the gray area of being a good "man" or "woman", and less people make grand fools of themselves.


I'd like to buy Theodore Ross a drink, though.


omg, the un-censored obviously defensive vitriol towards his ex-wife who is the mother of two of his children! that man needs to meditate a hell of a lot more; he is not doing it right!

Oliver St. John Mollusc

My Favorite Dude and I recently had a back-and-forth email exchange in which we took turns sharing the most offensive quotes we could find from the Good Men Project. It was weirdly enjoyable.

We also went to grad school with a guy who writes for them and who is kind of a tool.


@Oliver St. John Mollusc what were the best ones? I'm not sure I have the time/stomach for going through the whole thing.



Yes, what were the best ones?! I love a good hate-read.

fondue with cheddar

@peasofmind Yes, I would love to hear this but cannot fathom actually visiting the site myself.

Anne Wachtel@twitter

The Feministe article you linked to makes an excellent point. Why are we giving these people/this project clicks and mentions, even when said mentions are disparaging and secondhand via Buzzfeed? I know 100% ignoring these juice boxes won't make them disappear, but it might speed up the process.


@Anne Wachtel@twitter

You're totally right on one hand. But on another hand, Jessica Valenti wrote an excellent article a little while ago on the merits of responding to trolls instead of ignoring them. (It's here: http://www.thenation.com/blog/174624/fuck-high-road-upside-sinking-their-level#) There's a balance to strike, I think.


I know this is silly in light of all the craziness within this guy, but...

"He is a still-athletic looking man pushing 50, tall and muscular and imposing, with those mitt-like paws, a craggy and weathered face, fatigued blue eyes, and a guarded smile that reveals a set of unusually large teeth."

...I really want to use my (ridiculously bad) MS Paint skillz to draw him based on this description... HILARIOUS!


omg. there's just... so much stuff to deride here. On "Lap Dance Anxiety" - “I’m not exactly sure how to behave when a strange woman straddles me for cash.”
...really? if that causes anxiety for you maybe you shouldn't, you know, go to a strip club? I read the article to make sure I wasn't being glib here, and... nope. It really is that asinine.


@noodge Yeah, totally! It's not like having a lap dance is a civic duty, or even a normal part of "masculinity," except in the freakish modern definition of the concept. You can just say no, bro.


"“I thought of feminism like my mother did,” he says, strains of righteous indignation creeping into his voice. “Equal rights. Reproductive rights. Fair playing field. Let’s vote for Shelly Chisholm.”

“Shirley,” I interrupt.

“Whatever. I’m all for Shirley Chisholm. I went to Wesleyan. We didn’t spell women with an ‘E,’ we spelled it with a ‘Y.’”"



@noodge I'd love to see that MS Paint Identi-Kit version of the description. But, that picture at the bottom of the article, the man with the hat on--is that Matlack? He looks different from the man in the picture with the two boys. I disagree with the author of the article that those are "unusually large teeth." I see a lot of gum instead. Which version of Matlack to follow?
P.S. If you do it, could you draw him as a Matlack/Matlock hybrid? Put him in the courtroom or something. ;-) (I don't know, I've never seen "Matlock," but I think he was a lawyer.)


@noodge Yes, spelling women with a Y is the very essence of feminism. Far more important than being familiar enough with one of the most prominent US woman politicians of all time that you can retrieve her first name from your memory on the first try. Maybe he was thinking of Shelley Winters, author of "Shelley: Also Known As Shirley."


@Lu2 exactly.

this guy sounds painfully like my ex husband, who liked to read about/talk about men's rights, although he wouldn't have labelled himself an activist. when we divorced, we talked about how we were going to proceed: 50/50 division of assets and debts, with equalization payments to me because our debts were based on our mutual earnings, and I earned much less than he did. He blew up at this, convinced that I was going to "f*ck him as hard as possible", and hired a lawyer instead of opting for mediation. As a result, I ended up with half the debt, and was unable to pay for it, whist he was going out buying motorcycles and other accoutrements of the newly divorced 40 year old.

I'm working on forgiveness, and feel like I'll get there with my meditation practice, but I hear he still calls me a "crazy bitch", just like this guy.


@noodge Oh my god. So much of MR seems to be about anger over some "crazy bitch" taking "their money." It seems to be the unspoken heart of it--unspoken until such "rights" are infringed upon. That is terrible, I'm sorry.



It's funny how soon women become "crazy" as soon as they insist on equitable treatment. (See also: hormonal, bitch, shrill, castrating, strident, humorless, oversensitive, irrational . . .)

For real, though, that sounds SO shitty. I'm sorry you have to deal with that.


@peasofmind @Lu2

It's ok - in the end, I had to have the car repossessed because I couldn't afford the $660/mo payment (which was almost twice the amount as my rent in a shitty room in a shitty shared house). The upside: the car was in his name. heh. I did ask if he wanted it back first...


@noodge The worst bit is that the "mitt-like paws" makes me want a bad photoshop where his hands are Mitt Romney heads.


The Good Men Project has always to me sounded like the "Nice Guy" Project.

Ugh I am SO GOOD, I treat women like equals and occasionally do housework and look after my kids, why won't these bitches fuck me and cook me dinner?

To paraphrase Chris Rock, I'm not going to give you credit for shit you're SUPPOSED TO DO


@TheMnemosyne That's what it sounded like to me, but I also thought, "well, I'll cut them a break. It seems like what they mean is they're trying to find their best way to be good men." But it turns out that, in practice, those who only want to talk about it in public and build a public reputation about it are already poisoning their own discourse. I guess it's already tainted with "Look at me!" I don't know what the answer is, but there's something about making a big Thing out of your inner work that works against that goal. What ever happened to the men of the Million Man March? Are they all still working on whatever that was all about? Or did they take their ball(s) and go home? I wonder.



Yes! The whole thing is like a big vanity project. I just want to take all of them by the shoulders and tell them that meeting a baseline level of human decency does not earn you cookies. You don't get accolades for pointing out that you could be an asshole, but are choosing not to be.

fondue with cheddar

@TheMnemosyne "Congratulations for not being an asshole. Here's your medal."


Jesus, "virulent feminism?" Ew. Let's make everyone stop pretending like the Good Men Project is anything other than a bullshit mask for Men's Rights Activism. It is a sham, for real.

Rhinestone Eater@twitter

@peasofmind: I think that's unfair, at least to their original intent. It looks like they were trying for something interesting by inviting prominent feminists to write for them.

Mr. Matlack seems a bit less of a douchecanoe than the dreaded Hugh Schwyzer, and certainly less of one than your garden variety MRA.

He sounds more like an Iron John type. My impression of that movement 20 years ago was that feminism was accepted as a given, and they wanted to redefine manliness in light of that reality.

And then there was Men's Health magazine, which debuted around the same time. It was a women's magazine for men! "Here's what's wrong with you, and how to fix it!" I told my boyfriend at the time to not even look at that shit, because I'd jettisoned my last women's magazine a few years before.

I'm an Old, so I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. But you're right that "virulent feminism" is problematic.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Wait, who can't see Don Draper falling apart? It's evident from the show's intro, when Don's cut out is literally falling.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I signed in just to like this!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
I had to re-read that twice, since I assume he meant that *Don* couldn't see Don falling apart. But, no, Don is totally able to see himself falling apart, he just won't do anything about it.


I think it'd be nice to have a "Good Person Project" where people just do good things for other people, nobody discusses the gray area of being a good "man" or "woman", and less people make grand fools of themselves.
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