In Redefining Masculinity, Men Dig Deep at This Retreat

'GQ' writer goes in-depth on his own feelings, and a different approach to group therapy for men
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2023 2:20 PM CDT
In Redefining Masculinity, Men Dig Deep at This Retreat
Ranch retreat asks men to dig deep.   (Getty / Oduvanchik21)

A ranch retreat for men has all the markings of a Western movie, but with a lot more soul searching. GQ writer Rosecrans Baldwin gives readers a personal peek inside the Confident Man Ranch Retreat, a four-day trip that combines group therapy with ranch activities like horseback riding and campfires. The writer, like many of the attendees, was grappling with emotional issues in his marriage, and digging deep into what societal imprinting caused him to close up. This was at the heart of the program's treatment, which seeks to explore masculinity. NYU professor and podcaster Scott Galloway told Baldwin that men are "falling further" when they don't. "We need programs, we need empathy, and also we need to redefine masculinity—as something that's celebrated, not an insult, not something to be starched."

Though heterosexual white men have long been born with advantages in the US, notions of traditional masculinity—such as stoicism—have struggled in a changing world. GQ cites data on the toll emotional hardships take on men today: they're experiencing more divorce (which is overwhelmingly initiated by women), depression, addiction, suicide, and loneliness, as well as a decline in the labor force and at college. "We talk about masculinity as a duty. It's always in the imperative. 'Man up.' 'Prove to me that you are a man,'" says psychotherapist Esther Perel, who advises that redefining masculinity isn't a problem to solve, but a paradox one must manage.

The retreat is the brainchild of life coaches Tim Wade and Steve Horsmon, who met at a men's group. It combines equine therapy, a key component in confidence building, with empathy training to help participants who "want more out of their life and relationships" (per the retreat website). After running the first iteration in 2017, its 10 subsequent meetings have sold out every time. "Life hasn't gotten any easier," says one participant. "But being me in life has gotten easier." The program is just one in a growing trend of men exploring happiness, with guy's groups also popping up to address loneliness. (More masculinity stories.)

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