Well-Being Mental Health

Inspired by #MeToo, some men are trying to redefine masculinity

At a weekend retreat in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, more than 50 men talk about their emotions, their careers, their relationships — the kind of issues that would otherwise be saved for a therapy session.

This is Evryman — a new program that doesn’t follow a 12-step model.  It isn’t religious or political, and it’s open to anyone who identifies as male. Intensive mountain getaways are on offer, but most meetings are informal neighborhood groups in an apartment or office.

Evryman builds on a decades-long tradition of male-oriented emotional workshops, the most established of which are ManKind and Junto. But the idea is still far enough outside of the mainstream that it defies an easy label.

Many group members say they are responding to calls from #MeToo to address toxic masculinity. Some say that they’re more comfortable talking about unpleasant subjects in an all-male environment — although experts have varying opinions about the efficacy of discussing the subject of women’s rights in the absence of any women. 

The program’s primary goal is to help men to find their way in a modern world. As the group’s founders note, male emotional connection is taboo in modern mainstream culture, leaving many feeling they have nowhere to go to honestly share their anger or sadness. Group members do quite a bit of hugging and crying and are sometimes encouraged to scream, using a pillow to keep from disturbing the neighbors.

The group’s four founders come from business and media; Dan Doty led a youth wilderness retreat program years ago, Owen Marcus had long experience with men’s support groups, Lucas Krump was disenchanted with the spiritualistic, warrior-centric style of other groups, and Sascha Lewis, recently squeezed out of a tech job, had some severance to put toward the new venture.

One of the things that distinguishes Evryman is its accessibility. You pretty much just show up. It has grown to more than 1,000 members and more than 100 local groups in just three years.

 Video imagery courtesy of AFP via Getty