Redefining the Patriarchy and Building Next Gen Men with Jake Stika, Ep #33
Redefining the Patriarchy and Building Next Gen Men with Jake Stika, Ep #33
Patriarchy is made up of two Latin words, meaning “father power” or “ruling “father.” Jake Stika—the co-founder and Executive Director of Next Gen Men—notes when we look at society, we see examples of patriarchal structures. It could be familial, with the father as the breadwinner and protector. It could be systemic, with monarchies and lords.
In modern times, one of the two spheres where the most power is held is Fortune 500 companies. Only 32 out of 500 CEOs are female (7%), so it’s easy to see the power is still patriarchal. Global heads of state are still only 7% female representation. People don’t believe we exist in a patriarchy, but it’s easy to demonstrate. Everyone is affected by these structures. How do we change that? Why is change so necessary? Listen to this episode of Content Callout for a deep, eye-opening, and important conversation about redefining the roles of men in society.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:49] All about Next Gen Men
- [1:48] How Jake defines patriarchy
- [6:27] How Jake found his “why”
- [10:24] Creating awareness in the market
- [12:40] Identity crisis + sensitizing experiences
- [16:59] Monetizing non-profits
- [20:04] Culture change isn’t comfortable
- [24:13] Changing the stereotypes of gender
- [28:18] Brands embracing societal marketing
- [35:25] The Canadian Contingent for the UN
- [36:44] Get more information about Next Gen Men
Resources & People Mentioned
Connect with Jake Stika
Connect With the Content Callout Team
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Jake StikaCo-founder and Executive Director of Next Gen Men
Amanda: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Content Callout. Thank you so much for joining us for another episode. You've got Amanda and Kayla. Hey, Kayla.
Kayla: Hey, guys.
Amanda: So today, Kayla, we've got such a cool interview. It is with another not- for- profit. It's the executive director of Next Gen Men, Jake Stika. Jake is really passionate and he's such a facilitator on gender- based issues relating to social and emotional development of young men, as well as the health and wellbeing of men in communities, and gender equity in the workplace. So we had a really good conversation about a lot of different terms and about a lot of different spheres that you have for both young men and older men, so check out the episode guys. We hope you enjoy it. Hey, Jake. Thanks so much for joining us on the Content Callout today.
Jake Stika: Thanks for having me.
Amanda: Awesome. So let's jump right in. Can you tell us all about Next Gen Men?
Jake Stika: Yeah, so much to say. In a nutshell, Next Gen Men is working to redefine and undefine what it means to be a man by promoting positive masculinities, healthy relationships, mental wellness, and gender equity with youth in communities and in workplaces. That's the elevator pitch, if you want. But really, the why behind what we're doing is patriarchy hurts both men and women and we want to see a future where boys and men experience less pain and cause less harm.
Kayla: That's quite an endeavor, I think.
Jake Stika: A little bit, yeah. Recently, I took part in an interview and someone told me... It was about the future of masculinity at work, and they're like," Well, how did we get here?" And I started with cave men and moved to the agrarian revolution and eventually got to now. So yeah, we're working on a little bit of a historical timeline.
Kayla: I feel like some people that I talk to, they have a hard time defining patriarchy, so how do you define that?
Jake Stika: Totally. It's pretty easy. It is made up of two Latin words, pater and arkhē. Pater means father. A rkhē means power, ruler. So it's basically father power. And if we think about society, we see the history of how many patriarchal structures there were, whether it literally was familial structures where the father was the breadwinner and the earner and the protector and those kinds of things, or systemic, let's say monarchies or feudal lords or those kinds of things. And then in modern times, what that looks like... If we think about probably the two spheres where the most power in the world is held is, one, the Fortune 500. The 500 most profitable companies that drive world economies. We see that 32 out of 500 CEOs are female, so that's about 7% representation. Pretty easy to see that it's still patriarchal. And then the other thing is global heads of state, also about 7% female representation. So some people will push back that we don't exist in a patriarchy, but it's pretty easy to illustrate it. And once we start going down the, let's call it the rabbit holes of how women, men, and people of all genders are affected by these structures is pretty easy to point out.
Kayla: Yeah. I mean, 7%. That's not great.
Jake Stika: Last I checked, women were actually 51% of the population.
Amanda: And that 7% stings.
Jake Stika: Yeah.
Amanda: So let's just talk about that a little bit because we're all Canadian and so sometimes you hear this thing where it's like," Canadians are nicer." That's our stereotype. You certainly heard it in the past year with Black Lives Matters and anti- racism where we were talking a lot, and Canadians were like," But we're nice. We don't do that." So when you encounter people who are like," Well, you know what, Canadian. Maybe in the rest of the world, in the Donald Trump eras, but Canadians don't do that." What do you say to them?
Jake Stika: Well, what I think about is, and really what I think this recent Black Lives Matter social movement has shown us, is there's a difference between the individual and the overt, and the implicit and the systemic. I think in general society, for the most part, and there's Trump and he gives permission to his base and all that stuff, but for the most part, we don't have as much overt racism or sexism or other kind of discriminating things as we used to see maybe in the past. We've made a lot of progress on that front. But we see all of the residue of that history in our systems. So when we look at it through that systemic lens, yeah, maybe Canadians are marginally nicer than the rest of the world, but we still have all of those systems in place. Whether that be indigenous populations, our attitude towards newcomers, women, how we treat men with our male- dominated industries. It's all baked into those systems so I really don't think anyone gets off the hook.
Kayla: I mean, that's the biggest argument that I hear from people though, is that it doesn't exist here. So how do you illustrate it through those systems when you're explaining that to people?
Jake Stika: Totally. So I'll stay in my lane, really talking a lot about gender, it's important to have an intersectional approach and an idea and understanding of these different relations, but it's also just good to stick in your lane sometimes. If we talk about gender, we know, obviously, the discrimination, first and foremost, that trans and non- binary and people trying to move beyond the containers of gender norms face. So there's that one aspect. Then we know women's experiences, whether it be the wage gap or representation in leadership or gender- based violence, we're currently having an epidemic of that in Canada. But then we also look at men's experiences. Men are three out of four suicides, die on average four years earlier than women, aside from gender- based violence are actually the number one victims of violence since men are also the primary perpetrators of violence. They deal with increased rates of substance abuse, incarceration and homelessness. So we can look at all of those gender- based issues one way or another and say," Well, this is the product of patriarchy. This is the pressure that these individuals face under these systems." So yeah, I think it's just being able to have that nuanced conversation and be able to illustrate that for folks.
Amanda: So let's just go back to something you said when you were describing Next Gen Men and you were saying this was the why, so let's talk about that a little bit. Because, I don't know, I'm going to guess you didn't roll over one day, wake up and say," You know what, I should start an organization." So tell us about how you came to the why and a little bit behind that.
Jake Stika: Totally. So my personal story, I grew up in a traditional East European family. We immigrated to Canada when I was about three years old, so you can play all the stereotypes there that we don't talk about emotions or much of those kinds of things. And you can't tell on the podcast, but I think Amanda, you were about to tell Kayla how tall I was, I'm six foot eight, so I grew up playing basketball. So I benefited and existed within jock culture as well too, and went on to play varsity and a little bit of semi- pro basketball. Within those traditional male experiences, I picked up this script, and it was," You got to be tough. You can't ask for help. You can't show emotion." And then as I got older and things weren't working out in my life how I'd hoped or expected them to be, I had my own mental health issues. I struggled with depression and some of my coping mechanisms were binge- drinking, self- harm, all those kinds of things till I was 22 years old having an utter breakdown over a summer and then having to go to therapy and go on my healing journey. Again, that script that I picked up wasn't even something that someone was holding over me or telling me. That was internal. That was my own conversation and how I was hurting myself. So that was a big origin aha wake up piece, but my degree's in international commerce and global development. I lived in Brazil for a period of time working with a women's cooperative around economic security, so really seeing the wrinkles of poverty, colonialism, racism within that lens. I worked on and off for 10 years as a doorman. As a doorman, you see the worst sides of all kinds of people, lots of sexual harassment. All of these little experiences add up in a bit of a, let's call it an awakening. And I always say, once you see it, you can't unsee it. And knowing that that was my lived experience, but coming from a really young age, we wanted to do something for the next generation of men. We wanted to role model that there is a possibility to do it differently.
Kayla: How did you eventually tie that back to the patriarchy?
Jake Stika: Good question. Let me back up. Actually using the language of patriarchy and really highlighting that is a bit of a new revelation, probably within the last 18 months, but I knew early on that this is a really political space to get into. So even though I personally identify as a feminist, we don't use the language of feminists and we don't use the language of toxic masculinity. We talk about the issues men face and men cause, but we try not to label it as such because those are two very hypercharged terms. But in doing this work and having the amount of conversations that I have about this, I'm constantly tweaking the pitch and the conversation and seeing what lands with people, and arriving to using patriarch... Well, pause, I'll give credit where credit's due, bell hooks, a renowned feminist author wrote the book Will to Change. That is an amazing book. Her terminology is that we exist in an imperialist, white supremacy, capitalist, patriarchy. She talks about all of those things and all of those systems touch on one another. But in her use of that language through that book, I really saw the system piece of it. And then in applying it, when I talk about patriarchy and I talk about," Yes, this is how it affects women and girls. This is how it affects trans individuals. This is how it affects men and boys," then we're all on the same team. It's not actually men versus women, which sometimes feminism and toxic masculinity makes it feel like. So if I can get us all on the same side, then we're doing something productive.
Amanda: Yeah, totally. So with such a politically charged organization topic, what's shifting how you started fund develop marketing? So when you're in this space that is very politically charged, have lots of trigger words, how do you go about marketing yourself for fund development, for awareness in the market in the competitive not- for- profit space, donations for money? How are you approaching that marketing?
Jake Stika: Totally. We're still figuring it out, but it is a thin line to walk because inevitably you're going to step on someone toes and someone's going to be upset with you. But I think the reality is because it's politically charged, there are a lot of people that care about it. So if you can build that bridge of understanding and showing that really we're talking about the same thing and we want these positive outcomes, it's possible. When we think about marketing, one of the worst things that you can do is say," Who's your market?"" Everyone." That's the positive thing, but you're just never going to get traction that way. So for us, it's really focusing on the people who have come to see the issue in a similar way, or are coming to see the way that we see it and are looking for leadership and looking for ways to get involved and really speaking to that with them. So I think that that's probably the best that we can do. A lot of it, I mean, isn't necessarily just even about marketing and fundraising, it's about even accountability to the work. Because on the one hand, you have to acknowledge the harms that are happening to other people, and on the one hand, you want to speak about the pain that a certain group is experiencing. So when we talk about a future where boys and men experience less pain, we're speaking to, let's say men's rights activists or guys that are like," Guys have it so shitty right now," and blah, blah, blah. All those feelings. We're saying," We acknowledge that, we hear that, and there's reasons for that, but there's a productive way of going about this." And then on the tail end, when we continue on, they experience less pain and to cause less harm, we're speaking to, let's say, the feminists and those kinds of things that are saying," Hey, women are getting the shit under the stick. They're not getting paid what they deserve. They're not getting the jobs they deserve. They're getting beat up and there's violence." So it's acknowledging that tension, that, yes, there's problems on both sides, but if we're just at each other's throats how much progress are we actually making in this super polarized world?
Kayla: So I have a question for you, going back to something you said, we're talking about 93% of CEOs being male in the Fortune 500. I mean, arguably, they might be a little bit older in age, potentially baby boomers, and arguably, not arguably, definitely have benefited from patriarchy in some way to get to where they are. How do you get them to buy into these ideas?
Jake Stika: Totally. Again, we fall back because our neuroscience says that it's easier to go back to things that we know, binaries and stereotypes, et cetera, et cetera. We know the stereotype of the executive who's on their second marriage, their kids test them and they're one bad day away from a heart attack, and we ask them," Is this actually what you wanted? Is this the outcome that you worked so hard for?" That might be one stereotype or story that resonates with them. Then another one that we talk about, men are three out of four suicides. Oftentimes it gets talked a lot about the young men committing suicide, so that's late teens, early 20s. That's definitely one group that has a propensity for that. But the major group of those three out of four suicides is actually men 55 to 65. And a lot of it is because that they've lived their whole lives, they've done what patriarchy has told them to do, they've provided, they've protected, and then they get to the end and they get bumped out because of someone younger or a layoff because they're too expensive and they're dealing with an identity crisis. They're like," I've built my whole life to this. Who am I? What am I? What value do I have to society?" And unfortunately, we're seeing a lot of suicides come out of that. So there's opportunities to talk about the socialization and you're absolutely right that along the journey, they definitely benefit from it. But men overvalue what they currently have and they undervalue what they could have. So we're overvaluing this need to not be politically correct and to be shitheads and all this stuff, but we're undervaluing our mental health and wellbeing, the depth of relationships that we could actually have with people. And maybe when you're the patriarchal guy, you have some sort of respect, but it's mostly fear. But if you're the equitable guy, then you have true and deep respect, that longevity of respect and whatnot. So it's really showing the tensions to them and being able to have that conversation.
Kayla: Do you think there has to be an identity crisis to lead to change?
Jake Stika: Unfortunately, a lot of the research shows that. Here's my non- scientific metaphor that I use, if patriarchy was a stream, there's a current and for some reason, the female- identified fish have to swim against the current, and they're just like," What is this water? This is stupid." For us male fish, it takes us where we want to go for the most part until we find still water, we get fished out, or we have to compete against other fish. And what that looks like in the real world is job loss, divorce, identity crisis, substance issues, et cetera, et cetera. We call them sensitizing experiences. It's those sensitizing experiences that really make you question that water. Unfortunately, one of the only positive sensitizing experiences that many men experience to think about these things is the transition to fatherhood. Because if they have a daughter, we have the trope of polishing the shotgun and it's like, okay, there's a shotgun in the picture because you know how shitty guys are and rather than working on guys, you're going to protect your girl with a shotgun. Or they have a son and they say," Well, actually it was actually pretty hard growing up to be a boy, so I want it to be better for him." That's one opportunity. But they could also just carry on as it is. So unfortunately, the research and even just anecdotal experience of who comes to Next Gen Men as a volunteer or someone who's interested is someone who has had what we call that sensitizing experience around that.
Amanda: We're both so interested in this topic and it's crosstalk all of our liberal wanting societal stuff that we're both like, let's just talk more.
Kayla: Girl, we've been swimming upstream for so long.
Amanda: Yeah, we've been swimming upstream and we want to talk to somebody who doesn't have to. So then when you are talking about Next Gen Men, do you have different types of programs though? You do have other things that you're doing other than grants and straight up donations, why did you guys choose to go different routes to monetize this to continue your programs?
Jake Stika: We have to. I mean, grants are nice because windfalls, but they're also very uncertain. And unfortunately, I know this will be released a bit later, but where we are right now, we have the recent WE Charity scandal hanging over us and whatnot. By all means, I don't resonate with that organization, I think there was some big problems there, but I do think that some of the reasons they did the things they did is because the system, as it's built, incentivized them to do so. It provided barriers to them to actually being transparent and authentic in what they're trying to do. That puts the entire sector, non- profit and charity, in a really tough spot because I think now the general public is skeptical of innovation and trying to do those things." Are we just trying to be another WE Charity?" Or something like that. But the reality is that we know that charitable giving on a dollar per dollar basis is stagnant, but it's reflecting wealth inequality. So the gifts are getting larger and more infrequent from a general population that has the affluence while giving for younger and less affluent populations actually doubt. So that puts us in a really tough spot. Are we going to chase these mega donors and perpetuate some of the power issues or are we going to try and empower a community? Me, personally, I never want us to be an organization that recognizes someone as a" major donor" because if you have Jeff Bezos' money and you cut us a check for$ 100,000," Thank you very much, but that's barely worth your time." But if you're someone in community who is scraping by in a COVID world and you're generous enough to give us a$ 10 per month contribution, tell me what's the major Notre? What's the major gift there? It's the person who is committed to the work as a proportion of their revenue, and so we want to acknowledge that. So for us, it's very much how can we make people feel like they're part of the cause and the journey, because what we're doing isn't a lunch program." Hey, pay for a sandwich and we'll feed this kid." We're doing culture change, and that doesn't just happen with the kids that we work with. That happens with the people that we interact with on a regular basis. It happens in community. It happens at workplaces. That's why we work in so many different settings because it's really hard to just say," This is what we're going to do with 12- year- old boys." So for us, it's really just about empowering that. A silver lining of this is forcing us to come up with new and creative ways that actually add value to people while they're doing the culture change in such a way that it's not that benevolent charitable gift, but they say," I want to purchase this because I know that this will give me the transformation that I seek." I think that that gives you a better relationship with the communities that you're serving as well too.
Kayla: So let's talk about culture change for a minute because what you're talking about is a big idea, and obviously we are experiencing that right now and it's not supposed to be comfortable. Culture change isn't supposed to feel good. So for me, some of the changes that I'm seeing right now with what you say, like patriarchy and we talked about Black Lives Matter and things like that, it's discomfort. When do we start to normalize a little bit? How long does culture change last?
Jake Stika: The only constant is change, right? We can look at generational shifts even if we think about... Myself, I grew up in Catholic school and there wasn't really anyone who is out in my school. I didn't really understand what a transgender individual was, I probably would have called them a transvestite, and I didn't know what feminism was. I hadn't heard about it in high school. And then I look at these 12 to 14- year- old boys that we're dealing with, and I'm 32 so that's 16 years, whatever, that's not even a full generation, they know all of these things. So if we're going to pretend like change isn't happening, it is, and it's happening faster. I think that's some of the discomfort. I have a post- it note here actually, and it says uncomfortable versus unsafe, and there's a difference. For us of privilege, to be uncomfortable is a lot different than someone without privilege to feel unsafe. That's a good reminder for us when we feel those feelings.
Kayla: Yeah, that's super fair. I have something that's anecdotal that reminds me of this whole thing. I think we're all around the same age, so Amanda, you might very well remember something like this as well. Growing up, I remember when tearaway track pants became a big thing, and we weren't allowed to wear them to school without boxer shorts underneath because it would excite the boys and they would rip off our pants. So I don't think that happens anymore. It's just interesting, you get these generational differences and it is very much a reeducation that has to happen because any boy that grew up in a school like that might be a little bit resistant to the idea that this is wrong.
Amanda: Well, yeah. I mean, I think you do still see it now, and I think it's the differences of boys who did grow up in our school who are now the" policymakers", decision makers. It's the adage that we're teaching girls to change their clothes versus teaching boys to not do these things, and I think that still remains. If a girl" wears a skirt too short", or something is too revealing, or you see a bra strap, it's like it's her fault versus teaching boys to not look at them like that I guess would be a way of saying it.
Jake Stika: It's tough. I mean, that's where we're getting into the complexities as well too, because it's not really her fault because she's really just doing what society and culture and media is telling her to do. When you see that on TV and on the shows, and then you go in the store and you can't find a skirt that actually is long enough to meet the standards or whatever, that's her bind. And then the boys are undergoing the same thing where media is constantly sexualizing women at a younger and younger age. So that's, again, that tension between the individual and the systemic where we need to pause and we need to say, what is happening here, and have those productive conversations. I do think, again, going back to that polishing the shotgun example, stop just polishing the shotgun to get the boys away from the girls, but talk to them about it like," Why is this problem happening?" There's this one meme, I don't know if it was a meme or a YouTube thing, but it's like guy pretending to be really angry and like," When my daughter comes home and a boy does this, I'm going to have a conversation with her about her feelings." It's that trope and it's empowering her to know that it's not okay to be treated that way and to stand up for yourself and find someone who won't do that versus the traditional go find the guy and kill them or whatever. So it's all of those little things.
Kayla: How do you feel about the phrase, man up?
Jake Stika: I think it's incredibly problematic. I often tell this sensationalized story of a boy's life, at two or three we see little boys hugging and holding hands and just being very adorable and affectionate with one another. But usually by about the age of four or five, someone says," Well, hey, listen, boys don't really do that." Then they start roughhousing because they still need that physical touch but it's the one way they have permission to get it from those same peers, and then we say," Oh, boys will be boys. Girls don't do that. The boys are doing that." And then we put them into a school system, and they've been roughhousing and doing all kinds of shenanigans and we've given permission and license to do that. Meanwhile, we've socialized girls to be prim and proper. And for them to achieve what boys do, they have to be twice as good to get half as far. So they're going to pay attention. And then we wonder why the boys are acting out in these classrooms, and then we say," Oh, he's got a learning disability. He's got ADD. Here's some medication." And they're feeling emotional about that because they feel broken and then they start crying at seven or nine and then someone says," Boys don't cry." So they've internalized that and they come to something challenging at 11 or 12, then someone says," Well, man up." So they have to overcome that and then they have to push through. And then at 14, 15, someone says," The measure of a man is losing your virginity," so all of your interactions across sex come to be about that. And then maybe late in high school, 17, 18, 19, whenever that happens, you might find yourself in a situation with a young woman who might entertain that idea with you. But when she gets uncomfortable and nervous and she says," No, please don't," your whole life has pushed you through these things. You've been told to man up, to not cry, you've not been shown consent to be. Your whole emotional self, chances are you're probably not going to do that to that individual that you find yourself with in that moment. Like I said, that's a sensationalized story, but I think all of us can imagine or know that experience along the way.
Kayla: So how do we start to remove some of these phrases that you said, don't cry, man up? What are some of the other ones you said there?
Jake Stika: Boys will be boys and those kinds of things. We're seeing a raising of consciousness around this and we have, especially amongst mothers and women, but unfortunately it becomes very difficult for women to role- model positive masculinities, and so how do we get the men to do that? I think I'm very bullish on this, but if men take parental leave, it's going to be a huge catalyst for gender equity because workplaces are no longer going to take for granted that only women take leave so they basically have to just be like," Okay, a person of a childbearing age, which is a very normal thing to do in culture and society, will take some form of leave." Those men will then gain empathy with their partner and from that experience of giving birth or bringing a child into the world, and then they'll gain competence with their child. Because what happens now is they go to work and they come home, and their partner hands them the baby and says, do this, this, this, and it's a task list versus intuitively knowing my child needs this, my child needs that. And then when you have that relationship with that child from such a young age, you want to protect them. You want to keep them whole, you keep them pure, whatever words we're using there, but then you want to create that safe space for that boy who's emotional and who comes home and cries because he couldn't wear purple to school, and you say," That's stupid. I'm going to go get a purple t- shirt and we're going to wear it together." That's the inch by inch stuff. And then stop normalizing those things. Us, as men, who have come to this understanding and agree that it's hurt us and it hurts others, it's not enough for us to know that internally. It's important for us to take it into spaces where women and people of other genders might not be, the locker room, the boardroom, the pub. And when those things happen, say," Hey, man, not cool."
Amanda: So let's flip the script a little bit and let's just talk about you as an individual who is in a non- for- profit space and does look at things from a more societal point of view, is there's been a lot of corporations and a lot of businesses in the last year or so who have very much started to do societal marketing. So they've started to post certain things. Probably one of the biggest examples is Nike. Nike, with their Colin Kaepernick ad, and then people who are falling along those lines like Ben& Jerry's and everything like that. What do you think about corporations doing this? Do you think it's a good thing that they're doing societal marketing and do you think it benefits the causes?
Jake Stika: Complicated question, but I think overall, yes, because they have such outsized power and influence on culture with their marketing budgets and whatnot. So we want them to be using those towards positive ends. However, there's very little in terms of accountability mechanisms, and that's where government can often step in and support with those kinds of things. And then if not government, then we, as consumers have to. We vote with our dollars. So Ben& Jerry's, it's pretty clear that over the years they've been walking the walk, so I'm going to eat that$ 6 pint of ice cream. But if Ben& Jerry's is not walking the walk, then I'm going to go find another ice cream. And if Nike is still doing those things, then we should look for other shoes. So it's tough. I think as they start partnering with nonprofits and charities like us, it's on us as well to hold them accountable and be able to walk away from that. But the problem is that the systems and the incentives for us to turn a blind eye to that poor behavior are so strong because we can't get the funding in other ways. So it really takes a lot of moral fortitude to walk away from those things, and I don't think we see enough of that.
Kayla: So I have a question that goes together with that. A lot of ways that we see people reacting to this is maybe not even voting with their dollars, but we have call- out culture. So what's your opinion of call- out culture and does it actually work?
Jake Stika: Another softball question. Call- out culture needs to happen in very egregious cases, like the Harvey Weinsteins, Louis C. K. s, people who are just problematic and who use the position of power and privilege to be abusive. That's not okay. However, many of us make mistakes. I make mistakes all the time, and getting called out and canceled because you made a mistake is like going back to us as caveman, losing our tribe in that sense is devastating. It's death. We still have that feeling. So all we're doing is putting someone on an island that way and we're saying," You don't belong here." If we can look at it as consequence culture, so like," You fucked up, we're going to hold you accountable. There's consequences to this. Here's the consequences, you have to experience this, and then let's find a path back to society," which is then call- in culture. You're saying," Hey, that's not okay. But if you want to belong, this is how to do it better." So a quick example, Michele Romanow, she's one of the CBC Dragon's Den, Canadian dragons or whatever. I saw a post of hers on LinkedIn, and it was genuine trying to help someone pitch their idea better, and it was like," Make sure your grandmother can understand it." We often say these things with broad brush strokes, but for the most part, if I think about my grandmother and many other people's grandmothers, they often didn't seek higher levels of education, they often have had home care lives and those kinds of things. Those are generalities around their lived experience. Doesn't mean that it's everyone's lived experience. And realistically, grandma's would probably be like," That's great." But there was a comment underneath the post that said," I find this to be ageist and sexist because my grandmother had a PhD." That is one anecdote that doesn't necessarily speak to the data, I like to call that anec- data, but beyond that, it was just a straight up slap like that. Like," This is bad." So I commented on it, I couldn't help myself, I really usually try not to, but I said-
Kayla: I don't watch those comments, there is he is, man.
Jake Stika: I said," Great call- out. Now, how can we call in?" How can we build on that and say maybe you could have used language like make sure a ten- year- old can understand this or another context, offering the alternatives, or even just in other situations saying," Hey, that thing you did made someone feel like this," not," You are this horrible thing so therefore you need to be cast out." So I think it's important to be able to call- in and to have consequences, but call- out and canceling is really problematic.
Kayla: Well, I mean, those people just go somewhere else then. It doesn't necessarily change their behavior and then they just go to the next thing.
Amanda: Or they get angry because they've been called out and then they go the exact opposite way of educating themselves, changing themselves. And then they go the exact opposite and they get more firm, more defensive, angry.
Jake Stika: Just yesterday I had an electrician come by to check out some things in the house. We did our thing, and then as we were leaving, I don't even know really how the conversation started, but I talked with him for probably an hour about conspiracy theories. I say about conspiracy theories, but he saw them as fact, as true, and the tough part is I could have just been like," Nope, this conversation is over," and then they just get really hardened and solidified in that. But I know that I need to meet people where they're at and try to build bridges and find common ground, so I gave him an hour of my time and tried to do that. But it's exhausting because we in this social media, hyper siloed, algorithmically- curated world, his facts were not my facts. We did not have common ground. If you're going to actually debate someone, you have to agree on some parameters that are shared. But when I say," Okay, so there's a capitalist incentive towards PPE," and you say," It's a mass indoctrination ritual and we need to get back to work," and I say," Hey, that's a capitalist incentive too," and he says," Well, I got to work," and you can't agree that there's a capitalist incentive to both sides, that's a really difficult conversation to have. I agree that our institutions and our systems are flawed and not serving us well, and so it's really hard to say," Hey, I trust this, trust this with me too." That's why we need to do the work of reinforcing and reestablishing those systems so that we have a shared reality and that we have this shared experience and trust that we can have a conversation about.
Kayla: But I mean, did you guys both agree that Australia is fake and everyone from there is an actor?
Jake Stika: We did. We did.
Kayla: Good, that was your common ground.
Jake Stika: Yeah. Hugh Jackman is Australia.
Kayla: All right. Well, we will actually end with a softball question because we both thought this was super cool, but you spoke with the Canadian contingent for the UN.
Jake Stika: I did do that once upon a time.
Kayla: Yeah. We both agree, we thought that was the coolest thing. Tell us what you spoke about and how that experience was for you.
Jake Stika: Yeah. That was a really cool experience. We were talking about being a small nonprofit and trying to find our way in the world to have the Canadian government say," Hey, we think that you have something to say that's valuable from a national perspective," and to have that invitation. So that was really affirming. It was a couple of years ago, and the panel was on realistically better outcomes for women and girls, and I do have a bone to pick with the UN because one of the sustainable development goals is gender equality and there's a bunch of indicators that go under that. But all of the indicators center around the experiences of women and girls, and I think you're missing 50% of the population within that. So always, how are we all doing this patriarchy thing together or tackling this patriarchy thing together? But my comments were on the role of engaging men and boys towards those ends, and so it was really cool to have that small window to talk about our work and share that with the world.
Kayla: See, soft question.
Kayla: All right. Well, you know what, thank you so much for joining us on the Content Callout, Jake. I think this was definitely one of our most unique conversations that we've had. Let's tell everybody where they can find you, where they can find info on Next Gen Men and some of your other programs.
Jake Stika: Totally. The website, www. nextgenmen. ca. All of the social media is @ nextgenmen. I had to solicit and bug a church in Atlanta for the Facebook handle for years and eventually I got it, so now it's all @ nextgenmen. And yeah, hopefully people can either support a youth in our program or they can join the community discussion that we have on a regular basis, open to people of all genders. You don't have to be male identified to join because we're talking about masculinity and how we as a culture and society form that. And then finally, we're doing cool stuff in workplaces where we're getting men reading books together about race and about gender, but from underrepresented authors as well too. So that's been a really cool project to work on.
Kayla: Awesome. Amazing. If people want to find out more about different programs that you'll either do in workplaces, they can contact you directly?
Jake Stika: Yeah, info @ nextgenmen. ca. That's our shared inbox. We take any and all questions there. Sometimes even some hate mail, but bring it.
Kayla: Awesome. Well, thanks again, Jake. Really appreciate it.
Jake Stika: Thank you.
Kayla: Hey, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us on the Content Call out today. Amanda and I just had a fantastic conversation with Jake Stika from Next Gen Men. It's a not- for- profit that is, I guess I would say, revolutionizing the way that men react, act, are in our society. It was a fantastic conversation. We went through a lot of different gender roles, expectations, the idea of toxic masculinity. Amanda, what did you think of that chat?
Amanda: Yeah. I've known Jake for a bunch of years and actually done some work with Next Gen Men, and I love the way they approach things and I love the openness of all genders and having these conversations. I do think it's really important for us to have these conversations in not just our personal lives and our home lives, but also in the workplace, as well as in larger spaces like this, so.
Kayla: Yeah, I think one of the important takeaways that I took from that is that sometimes it does take an identity crisis to get meaningful change, which is unfortunate. Hopefully, through Jake's work, we can change that in our society. Thanks a lot everyone for joining us today and we will catch you guys next time. Bye.