Men Who Take Baths
The #MeToo movement is great but there are some things that have bothered me about it.
What in your life has had a profound impact that led you to be the man in the tub today?
Two years ago, I lost my dad and that put me on a path of self-development and get my act together in life so I could be there for my mom, and take care of her instead of her always taking care of us. I realized I had to get my life in order.
If you felt the need to get your life in order, does that mean it was chaotic before this happened?
It wasn’t chaotic, I just wasn’t focused. Now I’m more in control of life instead of feeling like it is taking me wherever.
When you hear a term like “toxic masculinity," what comes to mind?
I don’t really understand what it means. My view is that there are men who take advantage of women because they are in a position of power. I’ve heard stories of men with money using that to take advantage of women.
How do you talk to other men in your life about women?
Most people I surround myself with are positive people. Some of the people in my building who own businesses, if they see beautiful women coming into my studio if I’m shooting fashion or a portrait, have said: oh, you must be banging those girls, you must be getting laid all the time because of what you do for work. And it’s like...no, I haven’t slept with anyone. I will correct it very quickly.
Tell me more about your journey getting here. A mutual friend of ours had recommended that you be part of this project, and her reason was that you have gone through a lot of growth in the last couple of years.
I’ve been embracing growth even if it’s hard. I’ve started learning to use challenges as a catalyst for change. She has seen this transition over the last five or six years. I’m not embarrassed to share the path that I’m on.
You referred to yourself as a “momma’s boy.” What is your relationship like with your mom and how does that impact how you move through the world as a man?
I’ve always had respect for her. I have two sisters as well, so I’ve seen different men through that. But it was how my dad treated my mom that had an impact on me and showed me how to treat a woman. Being close to my sisters and being the older brother, I wasn’t over-protective but I was really there for them. It also made me a softie towards that side of life. Our whole family is super close.
What do you foresee as some challenges men and women might encounter as we advocate for gender equality?
I have an ex who is the CEO of her company and she’s explained to me that it’s still a man’s world and you still have to play by their rules, as hard as it is. Even her going on business trips, some guy would get her number and then be trying to pick her up. And I would say, well why don’t you put him in his place? Usually, she would just ignore a lot of it. She would explain to me that these are people she wants to work with, and unfortunately because it’s been this way for so long, it’s going to take a long time to change. A lot of the time, these men are married and they are using their power to take advantage of women. I think this is why more men need to take a stand against other men, for women.
...it was how my dad treated my mom that had an impact on me.
How can women include men in the feminist movement?
The #MeToo movement is great but there are some things that have bothered me about it. Like, I’ve heard that it’s wrong to hug someone because you’re the opposite sex. You can feel that suddenly you can’t hug someone who you have before.
How do we make sure that something like the #MeToo movement doesn’t separate people?
I’m so open about everything. I get that there are a lot of men who have taken advantage of the system and created these problems but we really need to communicate with one another. We need to have talks that don’t blame or that alienate the man. Some feminists have taken it in that direction.
Do you feel comfortable calling yourself a feminist?
I haven’t explored the word feminist too much because I’m into accepting everything. To me, the word feels harsh. It’s a harsher way to say equality and that everyone deserves equal rights. Men and women should be given the same opportunities. I don’t use the word a lot. I just flow and I let things be. I’m a hugger!
Why did you say yes to doing this?
More guys should know that women and men are the same. Old school mentalities of inequality need to go. People need to let people just be. I take my own path and it is what it is. You shouldn’t put yourself or others in a situation where respect feels violated. Use your head.
Three years ago, there was this girl in my life. I had really low-esteem. Just because someone texts you a smiley face doesn’t mean they like you. We had gone on a few dates and in my own mind, I made something up that wasn’t there. She posted a book on her Instagram called The Untethered Soul and I bought it because I wanted to figure her out and get her to like me.
Three pages into that book, I realized it had come into my life for a reason. It was for me. It set me on the path that I’m on now. She came into my life for a reason and we’re good friends. I think guys read into a situation differently than what is actually going on because of their ego. They think they have an "in" and they might take advantage of that. Instead, I started taking control of my life.
What is one of the most important things you’ve learned lately?
My dad’s philosophy on life was to love yourself and heal yourself because no one else can do that for you. God doesn’t heal you. You heal you. You have to believe in yourself. That’s what I needed from him as the last lesson.