Are men okay? It’s not a trick question. If you type in the Google search “Is it okay for guys to…” you get a slew of autofills: Is it okay for guys to… Be skinny? Get over a breakup? Shave their legs? Cry? Wear makeup?
Not to brag, but MEL is already in the business of answering these sorts of questions every day. In fact, we’ve answered most of them already: It’s okay to be skinny (or fat). It’s totally okay — even recommended — to get over a breakup. (Though we know it can take longer for men—also okay.) Men do shave their legs, as well as their backs, chests and balls, for a variety of reasons, and that’s okay, too. And men already do wear makeup. That’s fine!
Masculinity, we continue to be reminded, is in a state of crisis these days, a weird, no-man’s-land stuck between old and new ideals. Exploring that uncomfortable spot is our specialty, and the editorial inspiration for our stories about men who have no script for how to be and are just figuring it out, sometimes very awkwardly.
So with that in mind, we introduce an advice column for men, “Tell Me Moore,” which promises to combine research, answers, and above all, directness in confronting your thorniest, strangest, weirdest, truest questions about love, sex, relationships, work and more.
Most advice columns are written by women, for women. Standouts for men include Dan Savage’s Savage Love and the now-defunct Slate column Gentleman Scholar, as well as Andrew W.K.’s old Village Voice column. But even they only focus on “manly” concerns to the degree that most men’s magazines typically do — sex, grooming, drinking and style.
To that end, male advice columnist Joshua Spodek wrote last year that he couldn’t find any relationship columns for men, noting that they mostly “seem to be about things advertised in men’s magazines — grooming, clothes, fashion, alcohol and cars.” The examples he offered: “The gentleman’s guide to the perfect martini” or “Your grandfather wouldn’t wear white after Labor Day and neither should you.”
The Atlantic looked into why advice columns for men are so subject-specific and offer mostly cold stoicism in return, writing that, taken together, the columns and the questions prove “it’s clear that the message about male emotions hasn’t evolved too much past a punch-line”:
Advice columns for men, however, seem not to have made the leap from proscriptive notions of rectitude to the smart-older-sister vibe of advice for women. In GQ and Esquire and even Maxim, which are full of Q&A-format advice for readers, situations are often posed in a joking tone and answered as if the writer were the dude from the Dos Equis commercials and the ultimate ethical standard is masculinity rather than humanity.
At MEL, we hope to close the gap between masculinity and humanity. Part of that means helping the men who want nuanced, thoughtful advice about who to be, what to be and how to be. The other part is stepping in for real professionals since men are less likely to seek professional help for their problems. Not to mention that even when they do, they treat it more like a single-serve solution for a specific issue, as opposed to a long-term source of help.
So, here’s us asking: What’s your beef — with yourself, with someone else or with the world? What ideas are making you miserable? What old script for how to be has worn thin? What aspects of masculinity do you find oppressive, threatening, exhausting or even fun? What relationship or etiquette conundrum do you find yourself struggling through because of all the mixed messages about what it means to be a dude? Or more simply: Are you just trying to figure out what to call a woman’s vagina during sex?
Either way, I can help.
And if you’re wondering why this column will be written by me — a woman — I can offer these bona fides. I’ve poked a boner, shat myself birthing a child, broken horses and made a career out of writing about dicks. I’ve been a music critic and a journalist covering men’s and women’s issues for over a decade. I wrote a book about unplanned pregnancy. And if it makes a difference to you, I’m an expat Southerner who was born into abject poverty. For all the ways MEL is a site about men figuring it out, I’ve spent my life figuring out the same thing about being a woman, and more importantly, how the hell we’re supposed to put up with each other when the world won’t stop insisting how different we are. In the middle — where men and women are comfortable with difficult conversations and a little pushback, and hopefully some good jokes — is the only place real change or understanding happens.
Also, sorry, men are not good at advice columns:
If any of this sounds inspiring, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, questions and tricky scenarios.
I promise I’ll go easy on you—but I won’t hold back.