I have no idea what it’s like to be a man in 2019, but according to GQ, it’s evolving. The November issue, which is covered by Pharrell Williams in a glorious Moncler puffer gown, is all about the “New Masculinity.” In an editor’s letter titled “Masculinity Is Changing — and Change Is Good,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Will Welch, explains how Gentlemen’s Quarterly currently approaches manhood. “We’re not attempting to be comprehensive on the subject of masculinity or offering a strict how-to for being a better man,” he writes. “Instead, this issue is an exploration of the ways that traditional notions of masculinity are being challenged, shifted, and overturned.”
Of course, some men are perturbed by the idea of challenging, shifting, and overturning old-fashioned masculinity. In an op-ed titled “Not Your Father’s Masculinity,” published by the New York Times on Wednesday, writer and self-described “biological male” Matt Labash (best known for his book, Fly Fishing With Darth Vader) explains that he’s frustrated with “having to listen to people who aren’t men, or who are ashamed of manhood, constantly telling me how to be one.” He concludes that the “wokerati” should maybe “let men and women be men and women,” and that our difference, or our “diversity,” is actually our “strength.”
Labash admits he’s subscribed to GQ for decades. He likes the long-form reporting, of course. And maybe the occasional article on face serums, although you wouldn’t know for sure under his thick layer of sarcasm. “Still, one generally doesn’t turn to men’s magazine editors with soft hands who fret about conquering ‘your complex pant-shoe relationship’ for instruction on the meaning of manhood,” he writes.
Whoa. Hold up. Is Labash seriously saying that GQ editors have soft hands? As opposed to true men, whose hands are, I guess, rough and calloused? This calls for an investigation. We took it upon ourselves to ask some GQ staffers just how soft their hands really are, to better judge the integrity of their masculinity. Just how “gentlemanly” are they?
First up is style writer Cam Wolf. How soft are your hands, Cam? “My hands are so soft, when I clap it’s just ASMR,” he told us.
Wow, okay! Bold. But do we trust someone named “Cam”?
“My hands are soft enough to braid my daughter’s hair but also manly enough to suck at braiding my daughter’s hair,” says digital director Jon Wilde.
Hmm. Jon “sucks” at braiding his daughter’s hair, so he must be a man. But dude, you have a daughter? IDK. Seems unmanly. Let’s continue to look at the evidence.
How soft are social-media manager Luke Leifeste’s hands? “Softer than a raw, free-range chicken breast pulled out of the prepackaged Whole Foods plastic wrap,” he says. Raw chicken! Super manly. Now we’re talking.
What about deputy fashion director Nikki Ogunnaike? “Bigly soft!!!!!!” she told us. Did someone say “big“? Seems like Labash would be impressed.
Style writer Rachel Tashjian says she bought some Chanel cream about a month ago, and now her hands are as soft as “cashmere or a bunny’s soul.” Chanel? Flex! Rachel must be a very manly man.
Finally, we have site editor Chris Gayomali. “My hands aren’t soft or small, I know, but they’re not yours, they are my own,” he told the Cut.
Well, there you have it. No further questions.