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”Jane the Virgin’s” Justin Baldoni Talks Machismo on “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” Confesses He’s Struggled to Feel Man Enough

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Nowadays, there’s plenty of conversation surrounding femininity, feminism, and the experience of womanhood in society. But whenever we brush on masculinity, we usually only talk about the pitfalls of machismo culture and how it negatively impacts everyone — men and women alike. “Jane the Virgin” actor, Justin Baldoni knows there is more to masculinity than just machismo, so he spilled his thoughts on “Red Table Talk: The Estefans.”

In the most recent episode of “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” Justin Baldoni sat down to discuss two topics that are rarely covered together: masculinity and vulnerability.

Baldoni revealed that, throughout his life, he has struggled to feel “man enough” because of cultural ideas of what a man should be. “I remember just feeling like I didn’t fit in,” he said during his Red Table Talk conversation. “Because I wanted to be bigger, stronger, tougher, harrier… and also resenting my dad because he wasn’t that lumberjack guy.”

Now, Baldoni has made it his mission to redefine masculinity for a new generation of men and boys. Baldoni explained that teaching men and boys to suppress their emotions and “toughen up” is actually harmful in the long run. And his belief isn’t just an opinion, it’s backed up by research.

In 2019, a study conducted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) found that “1 in 5 men will not reach the age of 50 in the Americas, due to issues relating to toxic masculinity.”

The factors influencing this outcome include engaging in riskier behaviors as a show of dominance (dangerous activities, unsafe sex) and refusing to confront their emotions, which can lead to disastrous consequences (suicide, homicide, etc.).

The Estefans and Justin Baldoni touched on how women also have a responsibility to put an end to machismo culture from their own actions. Because of the way we’ve been socialized, we — sometimes unknowingly — reinforce outdated, toxic gender stereotypes.

When Lili Estefan admitted that she would be uncomfortable if a man cried in front of her, Baldoni reminded her that Latinas have been raised to believe in stereotypical gender roles.

“And I think this really exists in the machismo culture, especially from a lot of my conversations with Latin men and women, this idea of these [gender] roles,” he said. “Because if you’re trained to see [vulnerability] as weakness as a woman, and as a man, you’re taught you can’t ever go there, then our gap is too big and we’ll never get there.”

He went on to explain that men can’t dismantle machismo culture alone — they need help from women. “There’s a responsibility here of understanding that us men can’t make that move, we can’t step into that part of ourselves, we can’t be vulnerable if the woman has also been socialized to see [vulnerability] as weakness.”

The truth is, men are complex, emotional human beings with interior lives. Treating them as humans instead of, as Baldoni put it, “robots,” can help change the culture that insists men are supposed to be emotionless. As Baldoni so eloquently words it: “It’s about time that we embrace vulnerability as strength.”

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