ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Justin Baldoni - Actor, filmmaker, social entrepreneur
An outspoken feminist, Justin Baldoni has been doubling down on his efforts to start a dialogue with men to redefine masculinity.

Why you should listen

Justin Baldoni is an actor, director and entrepreneur whose efforts are focused on creating impactful media. He can be seen playing Rafael on CW’s award-winning phenomenon Jane the Virgin. In 2012, Baldoni created the most watched digital documentary series in history, My Last Days, a show about living told by the dying. On the heels of that success, Baldoni founded Wayfarer Entertainment, a digital media studio focused on disruptive inspiration.

In 2014 Baldoni started the annual Carnival of Love with a mission to improve the way the Los Angeles community views and interacts those experiencing homelessness. To support his work on Skid Row, he started the Wayfarer Foundation, which supports his work breaking the cycle of homelessness and supporting individuals facing terminal illness.

More profile about the speaker
Justin Baldoni | Speaker | TED.com
TEDWomen 2017

Justin Baldoni: Why I'm done trying to be "man enough"

Filmed:
4,241,602 views

Justin Baldoni wants to start a dialogue with men about redefining masculinity -- to figure out ways to be not just good men but good humans. In a warm, personal talk, he shares his effort to reconcile who he is with who the world tells him a man should be. And he has a challenge for men: "See if you can use the same qualities that you feel make you a man to go deeper," Baldoni says. "Your strength, your bravery, your toughness: Are you brave enough to be vulnerable? Are you strong enough to be sensitive? Are you confident enough to listen to the women in your life?"
- Actor, filmmaker, social entrepreneur
An outspoken feminist, Justin Baldoni has been doubling down on his efforts to start a dialogue with men to redefine masculinity. Full bio

Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.

00:12
As an actor, I get scripts
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and it's my job to stay on script,
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to say my lines
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and bring to life a character
that someone else wrote.
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Over the course of my career,
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I've had the great honor
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playing some of the greatest
male role models ever
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represented on television.
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You might recognize me
as "Male Escort #1."
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(Laughter)
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"Photographer Date Rapist,"
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"Shirtless Date Rapist"
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from the award-winning
"Spring Break Shark Attack."
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(Laughter)
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"Shirtless Medical Student,"
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"Shirtless Steroid-Using Con Man"
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and, in my most
well-known role, as Rafael.
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(Applause)
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A brooding, reformed playboy
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who falls for, of all things, a virgin,
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and who is only occasionally shirtless.
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01:06
(Laughter)
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Now, these roles don't represent
the kind of man I am in my real life,
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01:12
but that's what I love about acting.
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I get to live inside characters
very different than myself.
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01:18
But every time I got
one of these roles, I was surprised,
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because most of the men
I play ooze machismo,
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charisma and power,
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and when I look in the mirror,
that's just not how I see myself.
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01:30
But it was how Hollywood saw me,
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and over time, I noticed a parallel
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between the roles I would play as a man
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both on-screen and off.
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I've been pretending to be
a man that I'm not my entire life.
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I've been pretending
to be strong when I felt weak,
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confident when I felt insecure
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and tough when really I was hurting.
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I think for the most part
I've just been kind of putting on a show,
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but I'm tired of performing.
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02:03
And I can tell you right now
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that it is exhausting trying to be
man enough for everyone all the time.
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Now -- right?
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(Laughter)
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My brother heard that.
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02:18
Now, for as long
as I can remember, I've been told
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the kind of man
that I should grow up to be.
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As a boy, all I wanted was to be
accepted and liked by the other boys,
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but that acceptance meant I had to acquire
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this almost disgusted view
of the feminine,
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and since we were told that feminine
is the opposite of masculine,
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I either had to reject
embodying any of these qualities
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or face rejection myself.
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This is the script that we've been given.
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Right? Girls are weak,
and boys are strong.
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This is what's being
subconsciously communicated
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to hundreds of millions of young boys
and girls all over the world,
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just like it was with me.
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Well, I came here today to say, as a man
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that this is wrong, this is toxic,
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and it has to end.
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03:06
(Applause)
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03:12
Now, I'm not here
to give a history lesson.
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We likely all know how we got here, OK?
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But I'm just a guy that woke up
after 30 years and realized
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that I was living in a state of conflict,
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conflict with who I feel I am in my core
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and conflict with who the world
tells me as a man I should be.
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03:30
But I don't have a desire
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to fit into the current
broken definition of masculinity,
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because I don't just want
to be a good man.
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I want to be a good human.
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And I believe the only way that can happen
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is if men learn to not only
embrace the qualities
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that we were told
are feminine in ourselves
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but to be willing to stand up,
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to champion and learn
from the women who embody them.
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Now, men --
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(Laughter)
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I am not saying that everything
we have learned is toxic. OK?
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I'm not saying there's anything
inherently wrong with you or me,
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and men, I'm not saying
we have to stop being men.
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But we need balance, right?
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We need balance,
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and the only way things will change
is if we take a real honest look
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at the scripts that have been
passed down to us
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from generation to generation
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and the roles that,
as men, we choose to take on
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in our everyday lives.
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So speaking of scripts,
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the first script I ever got
came from my dad.
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My dad is awesome.
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04:33
He's loving, he's kind,
he's sensitive, he's nurturing,
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he's here.
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(Applause)
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He's crying.
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(Laughter)
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But, sorry, Dad,
as a kid I resented him for it,
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because I blamed him for making me soft,
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which wasn't welcomed
in the small town in Oregon
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that we had moved to.
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Because being soft
meant that I was bullied.
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See, my dad wasn't
traditionally masculine,
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so he didn't teach me how to use my hands.
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He didn't teach me
how to hunt, how to fight,
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you know, man stuff.
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Instead he taught me what he knew:
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that being a man was about sacrifice
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and doing whatever you can
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to take care of
and provide for your family.
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But there was another role
I learned how to play from my dad,
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who, I discovered,
learned it from his dad,
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a state senator
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who later in life
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had to work nights as a janitor
to support his family,
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and he never told a soul.
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That role was to suffer in secret.
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And now three generations later,
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I find myself playing that role, too.
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So why couldn't my grandfather
just reach out to another man
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and ask for help?
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Why does my dad to this day still think
he's got to do it all on his own?
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I know a man who would rather die
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than tell another man
that they're hurting.
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But it's not because we're just all,
like, strong silent types.
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It's not. A lot of us men are really good
at making friends, and talking,
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just not about anything real.
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(Laughter)
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If it's about work or sports
or politics or women,
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we have no problem sharing our opinions,
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but if it's about
our insecurities or our struggles,
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our fear of failure,
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then it's almost like we become paralyzed.
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At least, I do.
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So some of the ways
that I have been practicing
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breaking free of this behavior
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are by creating experiences
that force me to be vulnerable.
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So if there's something
I'm experiencing shame around in my life,
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I practice diving straight into it,
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no matter how scary it is --
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and sometimes, even publicly.
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Because then in doing so
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I take away its power,
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and my display of vulnerability
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can in some cases give other men
permission to do the same.
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As an example, a little while ago
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I was wrestling with an issue in my life
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that I knew I needed
to talk to my guy friends about,
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but I was so paralyzed by fear
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that they would judge me
and see me as weak
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and I would lose my standing as a leader
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that I knew I had to take them
out of town on a three-day guys trip --
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(Laughter)
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Just to open up. And guess what?
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It wasn't until the end of the third day
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that I finally found
the strength to talk to them
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about what I was going through.
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But when I did,
something amazing happened.
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I realized that I wasn't alone,
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because my guys had also been struggling.
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And as soon as I found the strength
and the courage to share my shame,
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it was gone.
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Now, I've learned over time
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that if I want to practice vulnerability,
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then I need to build myself
a system of accountability.
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So I've been really blessed as an actor.
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I've built a really wonderful fan base,
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really, really sweet and engaged,
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and so I decided to use my social platform
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as kind of this Trojan horse
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wherein I could create a daily practice
of authenticity and vulnerability.
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The response has been incredible.
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It's been affirming,
it's been heartwarming.
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I get tons of love and press
and positive messages daily.
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But it's all from a certain demographic:
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women.
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(Laughter)
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This is real.
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Why are only women following me?
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Where are the men?
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(Laughter)
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About a year ago, I posted this photo.
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Now, afterwards, I was scrolling
through some of the comments,
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and I noticed that one of my female fans
had tagged her boyfriend in the picture,
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and her boyfriend responded by saying,
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"Please stop tagging me in gay shit.
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Thx."
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(Laughter)
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As if being gay makes you
less of a man, right?
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So I took a deep breath,
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and I responded.
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I said,
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very politely, that I was just curious,
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because I'm on an exploration
of masculinity,
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and I wanted to know
why my love for my wife
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qualified as gay shit.
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And then I said,
honestly I just wanted to learn.
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(Laughter)
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Now, he immediately wrote me back.
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I thought he was going to go off on me,
but instead he apologized.
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He told me how, growing up,
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public displays of affection
were looked down on.
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He told me that he was wrestling
and struggling with his ego,
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and how much he loved his girlfriend
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and how thankful he was for her patience.
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And then a few weeks later,
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he messaged me again.
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This time he sent me a photo
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of him on one knee proposing.
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(Applause)
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And all he said was, "Thank you."
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I've been this guy.
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I get it.
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See, publicly,
he was just playing his role,
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rejecting the feminine, right?
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But secretly he was waiting
for permission to express himself,
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to be seen, to be heard,
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and all he needed was another man
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holding him accountable
and creating a safe space for him to feel,
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and the transformation was instant.
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I loved this experience,
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because it showed me
that transformation is possible,
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even over direct messages.
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So I wanted to figure out
how I could reach more men,
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but of course none of them
were following me.
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(Laughter)
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So I tried an experiment.
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I started posting more
stereotypically masculine things --
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(Laughter)
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Like my challenging workouts,
my meal plans,
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my journey to heal my body
after an injury.
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And guess what happened?
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Men started to write me.
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And then, out of the blue,
for the first time in my entire career,
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a male fitness magazine called me,
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and they said they wanted to honor me
as one of their game-changers.
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(Laughter)
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Was that really game-changing?
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Or is it just conforming?
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And see, that's the problem.
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It's totally cool for men to follow me
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when I talk about guy stuff
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and I conform to gender norms.
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But if I talk about
how much I love my wife
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or my daughter or my 10-day-old son,
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how I believe that marriage
is challenging but beautiful,
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or how as a man
I struggle with body dysmorphia,
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or if I promote gender equality,
then only the women show up.
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Where are the men?
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So men, men, men,
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men!
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(Applause)
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I understand.
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Growing up, we tend
to challenge each other.
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We've got to be the toughest,
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the strongest, the bravest
men that we can be.
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And for many of us, myself included,
our identities are wrapped up
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in whether or not at the end of the day
we feel like we're man enough.
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But I've got a challenge for all the guys,
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because men love challenges.
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(Laughter)
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I challenge you to see
if you can use the same qualities
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that you feel make you a man
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to go deeper into yourself.
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Your strength, your bravery,
your toughness:
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Can we redefine what those mean
and use them to explore our hearts?
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Are you brave enough
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to be vulnerable?
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To reach out to another man
when you need help?
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To dive headfirst into your shame?
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Are you strong enough to be sensitive,
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to cry whether you are hurting
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or you're happy,
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even if it makes you look weak?
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Are you confident enough
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to listen to the women in your life?
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To hear their ideas and their solutions?
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13:39
To hold their anguish
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13:41
and actually believe them,
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13:44
even if what they're saying
is against you?
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13:47
And will you be man enough
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2040
13:49
to stand up to other men
when you hear "locker room talk,"
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3776
13:53
when you hear stories
of sexual harassment?
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13:55
When you hear your boys talking
about grabbing ass or getting her drunk,
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3416
13:59
will you actually stand up
and do something
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14:01
so that one day
we don't have to live in a world
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2256
14:03
where a woman has to risk everything
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14:05
and come forward
to say the words "me too?"
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14:07
(Applause)
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14:18
This is serious stuff.
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1480
14:21
I've had to take a real, honest look
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1896
14:22
at the ways that I've unconsciously
been hurting the women in my life,
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4640
14:28
and it's ugly.
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1720
14:31
My wife told me that I had been
acting in a certain way that hurt her
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5416
14:36
and not correcting it.
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1440
14:39
Basically, sometimes
when she would go to speak,
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14:43
at home or in public,
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2016
14:45
I would just cut her off mid-sentence
and finish her thought for her.
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4360
14:51
It's awful.
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1200
14:53
The worst part was that I was completely
unaware when I was doing it.
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3256
14:56
It was unconscious.
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1416
14:58
So here I am doing my part,
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2016
15:00
trying to be a feminist,
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1536
15:01
amplifying the voices
of women around the world,
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2256
15:04
and yet at home,
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1616
15:05
I am using my louder voice
to silence the woman I love the most.
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3760
15:11
So I had to ask myself a tough question:
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1920
15:14
am I man enough
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1896
15:16
to just shut the hell up and listen?
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15:18
(Laughter)
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15:20
(Applause)
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15:24
I've got to be honest.
I wish that didn't get an applause.
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15:27
(Laughter)
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15:29
Guys,
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1976
15:31
this is real.
313
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1200
15:33
And I'm just scratching the surface here,
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1976
15:35
because the deeper we go,
the uglier it gets, I guarantee you.
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2936
15:38
I don't have time to get into porn
and violence against women
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2896
15:41
or the split of domestic duties
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3256
15:45
or the gender pay gap.
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1680
15:48
But I believe that as men,
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1776
15:50
it's time we start to see
past our privilege
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2456
15:52
and recognize that we are
not just part of the problem.
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2616
15:55
Fellas, we are the problem.
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1696
15:56
The glass ceiling exists
because we put it there,
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3176
16:00
and if we want to be
a part of the solution,
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2096
16:02
then words are no longer enough.
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1560
16:05
There's a quote that I love that
I grew up with from the Bahá'í writings.
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3720
16:10
It says that "the world of humanity
is possessed of two wings,
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3560
16:14
the male and the female.
328
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1200
16:17
So long as these two wings
are not equivalent in strength,
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4176
16:21
the bird will not fly."
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1680
16:25
So women,
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1200
16:27
on behalf of men all over the world
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3776
16:31
who feel similar to me,
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1280
16:34
please forgive us
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1200
16:36
for all the ways that we have not
relied on your strength.
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2720
16:41
And now I would like
to ask you to formally help us,
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2696
16:44
because we cannot do this alone.
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2096
16:46
We are men. We're going to mess up.
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1736
16:48
We're going to say the wrong thing.
We're going to be tone-deaf.
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3016
16:51
We're more than likely, probably,
going to offend you.
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2576
16:53
But don't lose hope.
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1520
16:56
We're only here because of you,
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1520
16:59
and like you, as men, we need
to stand up and become your allies
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3056
17:02
as you fight against
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2616
17:05
pretty much everything.
345
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1320
17:08
We need your help
in celebrating our vulnerability
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3416
17:11
and being patient with us
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1736
17:13
as we make this very, very long journey
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3936
17:17
from our heads to our hearts.
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2280
17:20
And finally to parents:
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1840
17:25
instead of teaching our children
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1641
17:27
to be brave boys or pretty girls,
352
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3000
17:33
can we maybe just teach them
how to be good humans?
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2401
17:38
So back to my dad.
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1199
17:41
Growing up, yeah, like every boy,
I had my fair share of issues,
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4456
17:45
but now I realize that it was
even thanks to his sensitivity
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3136
17:48
and emotional intelligence
357
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1736
17:50
that I am able to stand here right now
talking to you in the first place.
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3440
17:55
The resentment I had for my dad
I now realize had nothing to do with him.
359
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3616
17:58
It had everything to do with me
and my longing to be accepted
360
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5296
18:04
and to play a role
that was never meant for me.
361
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2200
18:07
So while my dad may have not taught me
how to use my hands,
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3080
18:11
he did teach me how to use my heart,
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1720
18:14
and to me that makes him
more a man than anything.
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2520
18:17
Thank you.
365
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1216
18:19
(Applause)
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2560

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ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Justin Baldoni - Actor, filmmaker, social entrepreneur
An outspoken feminist, Justin Baldoni has been doubling down on his efforts to start a dialogue with men to redefine masculinity.

Why you should listen

Justin Baldoni is an actor, director and entrepreneur whose efforts are focused on creating impactful media. He can be seen playing Rafael on CW’s award-winning phenomenon Jane the Virgin. In 2012, Baldoni created the most watched digital documentary series in history, My Last Days, a show about living told by the dying. On the heels of that success, Baldoni founded Wayfarer Entertainment, a digital media studio focused on disruptive inspiration.

In 2014 Baldoni started the annual Carnival of Love with a mission to improve the way the Los Angeles community views and interacts those experiencing homelessness. To support his work on Skid Row, he started the Wayfarer Foundation, which supports his work breaking the cycle of homelessness and supporting individuals facing terminal illness.

More profile about the speaker
Justin Baldoni | Speaker | TED.com