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Mansome: Men redefining 'manly,' and not just for laughs

Mansome isn't just a movie – it's a reality as the commodification of manhood has men redefining "manly." Clothes matter. Eyebrows matter. Hair matters.

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Asked to get serious for just a sec, Mr. Bateman admits he doesn't have an answer for what it means to be a man.

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"I try to be the best man I know how to be, which is just to kind of listen to myself and make the decisions that I'm instinctually drawn to make as opposed to having any sort of premeditated agenda, or any sort of strategy. I'm just trying to be honest and human, if that means being confident in one moment, then I'm that. If that means letting vulnerability show because I'm feeling vulnerable, then doing that. It's nice to be able to show it and feel it all."

JOEL STEIN

Never an outdoorsman, always anxious, Mr. Stein did something he never thought he would when his wife got pregnant: He freaked out because the baby was a boy.

There would be camping trips and footballs to throw! So he decided to make a book out of a manly bucket list to overcome his fears and generally effete way of doing things. He did a 24-hour shift with Los Angeles firefighters. He knocked back Scotch, went hunting, and survived three days of Army boot camp.

So what'd he learn? What does being a man mean to Joel Stein?

"I think being a man today means less than it used to. It will always mean less than it used to. Don Draper [of '60s 'Mad Men" fame] seems like such a man. He says no to things, but if you remember those segments in the first season or two where they show his dad, and his dad was like coming home and just beating the heck out of his wife and his kids. It was like, 'Oh, men were even scarier before Don Draper.' They're always going to be scarier the further you go back. Being a man these days? It's still some version of being able to stick up for yourself and people around you, and it's still about being self-sufficient in every way."

DAN ZEVIN

Mr. Zevin lived in Brooklyn as a stay-at-home dad of two. And wrote a book about it.

He eventually left Aloof Hipster Dad in his Brooklyn playground and moved to suburban Larchmont, N.Y. where he worships at Costco and posts to YouTube interviews he does from his minivan. A balloon-twisting party clown was a recent subject.

What surprised Zevin about staying home with his kids?

"I thought it was going to be easy. I really thought it was going to be like I will continue to have this cool Brooklyn lifestyle and be a freelance writer and see my friends and go to cafes and do my work, my creative work, but the only difference is I'll just have a couple of kids in tow, you know, and I found out that it's hard. It's not so easy. There are great parts of it but it's not so easy and I think that moms have probably had that one figured out for generations and generations. We're just learning as we go along. Our dads weren't the role models. This is all new to us, this more involved fatherhood. If you can't laugh about this stuff you're going to go absolutely bonkers."

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SHAWN DAIVARI

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