Each wave of feminism in the United States has been met with a rise of men’s groups, which have sought to “heal” men and reconnect them to traditional masculinity. These movements—such as Robert Bly’s Iron John—have attempted to adapt to or resist the societal changes that have come along with increased rights for women. Now, YouTube gurus such as Jordan Peterson are responding not only to the concept of toxic masculinity and the #MeToo movement, but to the fact that men make up the majority of the nation’s suicides and have been disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic.
In the November cover story of Harper’s Magazine, Barrett Swanson reports on an Evryman, an organization that hopes to create a space for men to open up about past traumas and their feelings. Swanson details his personal experience during a weekend retreat, as well as the larger goals and practices of the organization. In his conversation with Harper’s web editor Violet Lucca, Swanson discusses how the organization markets itself, questions the effectiveness of catharsis as cure, and assesses the limitations of approaching all of men’s (or women’s) issues exclusively through the lens of gender.