I had a lot of questions for former President Barack Obama about policy and politics, how he campaigned as a radical yet governed as a centrist. But given that American democracy was disrupted by a man whose very definition of “manhood” is the opposite of Obama’s, it felt timely — urgent even — to drop down to a fundamental level: the story he tells himself about what it means to be a man.
Stories are powerful. Obama wishes he knew that when he was 19, making sense of the world and his place in it. In this conversation, he reflects on his own juggling act — how he balanced his family life with his enormous ambitions outside the home. He sees the generational shift from his marriage to what he hopes for his daughters. And as our society increasingly encourages girls to be themselves, Obama says we don’t give boys that same permission.
“It’s which chimp has the most bananas?” he jokes.
Obama encourages men to embrace a different story about manhood: one less about domination and more about caring for others.