GQ USA - 11.2019

(Jacob Rumans) #1
BACK IN SEPTEMBER of last year,
when I found out that I would be the
editor in chief of GQ , most people said
stu≠ like “Amazing!” and “Congrats!”
But one particularly perceptive friend
reacted in a way that I’ll never forget.
“Yikes,” she said. “Hell of a time to be
in charge of a men’s magazine.”
It was a hard-core thing to say—
which is exactly what real friends are
for. She was right, of course. It was
and is a precarious moment. Our soci-
ety had been wearing blinders that
shielded a pervasive culture of sexual
intimidation and violence and blatant
gender inequality. But some exceed-
ingly brave people—many of whom
were the victims of that unequal,
violent, and discriminatory culture
itself—were in the process of showing
everyone the plain truth.
So the essential question that the
team and I have been confronting
during our first year in this new era
at GQ is: How do you make a so-called
men’s magazine in the thick of what
has justifiably become the Shut Up and
Listen moment?
It’s an awesome, exciting, long-
overdue challenge. And we see every
day at GQ as an opportunity to answer
that question.


One way we’ve addressed it is by
making a magazine that isn’t really try-
ing to be exclusively for or about men
at all. In fact, for many years now, one
of the key principles at GQ is that if we
tell stories that excite our own smart,
voracious, politically and socially
engaged team, we will connect with a
smart, engaged, diverse, and gender-
nonspecific audience. Which means GQ
isn’t targeting a conventional demo-
graphic at all; we’re just doing our own
specific GQ thing our own specific GQ
way—and we trust that all kinds of
people will relate and engage.
This even applies to how we
approach the seemingly very gendered
topic of men’s fashion. What we’ve
been trying to do with our fashion
storytelling this year is position it in
a way that makes it exciting and rel-
evant to anyone with an interest in
menswear culture, rather than creat-
ing a guide that applies only to people
who wear men’s clothes. It’s a subtle
but important shift.
The other approach is our practice of
thinking of GQ not as a singular voice
but as a community platform—a pulpit
that can be widely and freely shared.
Both of these ways of thinking cul-
minate with the issue you are now

holding, the New Masculinity Issue,
which we have been working on in
various stages since January.
The centerpiece of the issue is an
extended package, captained by the
journalist Nora Caplan-Bricker, called
“Voices of the New Masculinity.” In it
we hear directly from people who are
actively engaging with the complex
and shape-shifting inquiry around
what masculinity means today. You’ll
hear from an activist who is figuring
out how to speak to closed-minded
men about topics like sexual discrim-
ination in the workplace (Tarana
Burke). From a gender-nonbinary actor
who is simultaneously advocating for
greater inclusivity in Hollywood and
acknowledging their own privilege
(Asia Kate Dillon). From two very
di≠erent comedians who are both min-
ing this moment for poignant, provoca-
tive laughs (Jaboukie Young-White and
Hannah Gadsby). From an anthropol-
ogist who is debunking the idea that
testosterone determines male behavior
(Katrina Karkazis), and an NBA player
who is publicly divulging his personal
struggles with depression and anxi-
ety in a league that has traditionally
favored the invulnerable (Kevin Love).
And there are many others.
To capture even more voices, we also
conducted a survey in which we asked
1,005 Americans about their thoughts
and feelings on the state of masculin-
ity now. The responses suggest that a







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