The quest for manhood with Joel Stein

May 16, 2012

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What does it mean to be a man? It's a question with no easy, perhaps even no, correct answer. Sometimes the perfect model of masculinity gets turned on its head after you poke around a bit.

I myself never worried so much about masculinity and whether I had enough to go around once I started having sons. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you what it means to be masculine and if I attempted to, I’d fall into the stereotypical traps. Besides, it’s not something I worry about.

But for writer Joel Stein, the need to unravel the mystery of masculinity was born of panic. He panicked when he found out he and his wife, Cassandra, were having a boy. Stein is a staff writer for Time Magazine who, as a boy, owned an Easy-Bake Oven, never camped and shied away from all manner of sports. His dad, on the other hand, was a rough and tumble kind of kid who seemed to always get into fights. Would he possess the required amount of masculinity to raise a son?

Stein’s panic morphed into a hilarious and poignant treasure hunt for the true meaning of masculinity. The result of his travels is detailed in his new book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity.

Stein’s search lead him to a Boy Scout campground, a Los Angeles firehouse (where he meets Captain Buzz Smith), hunting and finally a fight with Randy “The Natural“ Couture, the actor and former UFC champ.

So what does he find at the end of his journey? Surprise, at his own masculinity and a greater respect for doing rather than just thinking about doing. The book is full of wit, wisdom and epiphanies. Frankly, I don’t agree with Stein’s subtitle; I envy his quest. When I go out to L.A. later this year, I want to meet Captain Buzz myself.

Stein tells us more about his journey Wednesday on Eight Forty-Eight.