Editor’s note: Freedom Center Shillman Fellow Jason D. Hill, the author of What Do White Americans Owe Black People: Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression, recently interviewed leadership coach and alpha male Mike Shereck, author of the new book Manhood Manifesto: How Men Must Lead at Home, at Work and in the Public Sphere, for FrontPage Mag. Check it out below.
Hill: Mike Shereck, congratulations on your new book. It’s a daring, courageous and audacious book, but one filled with humor also. I learned a lot from it. There are several books on the crisis of masculinity in the United States. What’s different and unique about yours?
Shereck: Jason, thank you for this opportunity and your interest. I think there are a few things different – first, my perspective. I am an “everyman” from Berwyn, Illinois, a unique and powerful place, and I grew up in one of the most interesting times in our history.
I was born in the Jim Crow south, I was alive during the Kennedy assassination, lived through the civil rights movement and Viet Nam. I have seen the best and the worst of America. I have traveled to Europe several times and have worked in a few different places around the world, and no matter what, I realize that though America is not perfect, the possibility and the idea of America is unlike any other place in the world. There is no victimization in the book and there is no political correctness in it either. It points to the specific breakdowns we have in our culture and has a plan of action to address them.
I also believe what makes the book different is, there is an element of humor and irreverence toward the human experience.
Hill: What is the biggest misperception heterosexual men and women have about each other as far as relating to each other as gendered agents?
Shereck: This is a tough question. I think from my experience there is a perception by others that being a straight white guy is easy and we are all pretty shallow and dumb. That is a long way from the truth.
As it relates to women, I love women and I see them as our partners – culturally, spiritually, intellectually, economically, and functionally. They are completely different beings than us, they are our complements and we are theirs. My concern is that the radical gynocentric social agenda has a perspective to reduce men or masculinity for the betterment of the world. Let’s just say I am not aligned. It occurs to me that agenda is solely for the acquisition of power and control. That, by definition, is corruption.
Hill: Why did you decide to write this book, now?
Shereck: I have gotten weary of how men, masculinity, and the male expression are being represented in both the media and the arts. There is a profound impact on young men because of that. Look at the numbers around suicide, around drug and alcohol abuse, and just look at the basic unease of young men today. You need to go no further than look at the expansion of transgenderism, male feminism, and the feminine expression of so many men, a clear indication that their relationship to who they are and what they are about is a bit off. I wanted there to be an alternative message, a celebration of masculinity along with the acceptance of the responsibility we have.
Hill: You write about the role of the Alpha males in providing three key virtues to our society. What are they?
Shereck: Absolutely. The first is “to provide.” In the olden days that meant be the breadwinner, and with that came a belief of some version of entitlement. You know, the “my home, my castle” BS. What I mean by “provide” is in the realm of leadership. We as Alpha men are responsible for the provision of space that allows people to grow, develop and fully express themselves as they are. It is to create the space where folks can learn from their mistakes and grow into contributing citizens. It is to provide the environment for future generations to thrive. You can see just by those broad examples it is a big job, and one that opens things up, I think far greater than any diversity, inclusion, and equity agenda.
The next is “to protect.” We live in a time where there is an obsession with safety. Safety is a great example of the limiting nature of many of the gynocentric’s agenda. Safety limits what is possible; it is meant to eliminate risk. Life is filled with risks. We cannot eliminate risk and still be fully alive. By “protecting” we work to create the environment that reduces the unnecessary risk along with providing the skills that allows us as a culture to grow and develop to enhance our lives. It takes us from being victimized to being fully responsible for our actions and the results we derive from them.
The final virtue is to “leave a legacy.” We are not here for a long time, and this thing we do, this thing called life is bigger than each of us. Leaving a legacy is living our lives in a way that connects the actions of the past with what we are doing today to create a future for our children and their children’s children. It is a way to push it forward along with a context that we want and need to leave this place better than we found it. It is the ultimate abundance context, and a focus on contribution.
Hill: Do you think a sex war is inevitable, given the ambiguity around dating, what constitutes an appropriate form of flirting, and the whole issue regarding uninvited sexual attention?
Shereck: I believe all war is avoidable. I am a believer of Sun Tzu: avoid war at all costs, and if you go, go big. And war is the ultimate breakdown of the human experience. There has never been a war that was not based in power and ego.
What you are pointing to, Jason, is a breakdown in communication. That breakdown begins with not being clear on what we truly yearn for. Who does not desire connection, intimacy, or human touch? The question becomes, how do we get there? I think men need to get real about what they need, who they are, and what they really want in life. We need to start telling the truth to ourselves first. We need to practice vulnerability, not some wimpy version of that, authentic expression of vulnerability. We must be okay when we screw up, and we need to understand, a bunch of guys have done stupid stuff in the past, and we may have to pay for their misdeeds.
We need to stop settling, and if for some reason we don’t have exactly what we think we need or want, look, and ask how it got this way—then choose. Accept it, not from resignation but from real acceptance; or go make it different, but we need to stop being resigned, pissed, or upset.
For women, I hope they can begin to resist kicking every guy in the balls who shows vulnerability. We as men must learn to be vulnerable without being weak. Being weak, whiny, pussy boys has seemed to become in vogue and I find that really disturbing.
As a followup: how do real men navigate this maze created, largely, I believe, by toxic feminists? How do they reclaim and make their own space and resist this new form of “gendered eugenics” where I think men are just being castrated into being manageable little beta twinks for women whose aim seems to be to establish power and dominance over men. Male feminists, twinks, overly sensitive guys, piss me off. It is the ultimate sellout. These guys are frauds. They are gutless wimps who have sold out to curry the favor of women and other gynocentric types because they don’t have the basic courage to stand up for themselves.
Foundational to the book Manhood Manifesto is for men to own their voice—however that may be. The guys you are pointing to are complete cowards and sellouts. It is easier to go along the “gendered eugenics,” as you would say, than to stand up to it, be responsible and make the shifts that are required – “be the change.”
Men have done some bad stuff throughout history. And any of us without sin should cast the first stone. I get it, and the bad stuff we are being judged by were things that happened years ago. It is a very slippery slope to judge yesterday’s actions by today’s standards. Men need to develop a much deeper understanding of who they are and what is truly important to them, then go out and be that man. That is the opportunity and the challenge of life. I believe we live in the greatest time in history to do that now. This is the gift of the current cultural events we are experiencing. Everything appears really clear.
Hill: Tell us about the work you do in coaching men and how people can contact you.
Shereck: I work as an executive coach and organizational consultant. My typical clients are men who run or own organizations who want those organizations to reflect their purpose and their values. The best way to reach me is send me an email to email@example.com.
Jason, thanks so much for the opportunity to share my book with you and your folks.
Hill: I loved your book. It’s very, very original and courageous.
Jason D. Hill is professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago specializing in ethics, social and political philosophy, American foreign policy, and moral psychology. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center. Dr. Hill is the author of five books, including, “What Do White Americans Owe Black People: Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression.” Follow him on Twitter @JasonDhill6.