John Legend talks ‘jock culture’, sex & toxic masculinity with Cosmopolitan

71st Annual Tony Awards - Arrivals

If you could go back and redo your first sexual and romantic experiences, knowing what you know now, would you? I think about that sometimes, how I’d like a do-over with certain people, how I’d like to take a mulligan on certain experiences. I think part of the reason why I made so many mistakes is because I listened to the wrong advice from the wrong people. Would it have been different if I had been listening to celebrities talk honestly about sex, romance, fidelity, toxic masculinity and more? I don’t know. John Legend is partnering with AXE (makers of hideous body sprays beloved by douchebag teenage boys) for their Find Your Magic Initiative, “which seeks to end the perpetuation of toxic masculinity and instead encourage all adolescents to embrace who they are beyond such societal expectations.” Basically, John Legend is telling boys that they don’t have to give in to sexual peer pressure, etc. Legend spoke to Cosmo about this stuff, and here are some highlights:

He lost his virginity at a young age: “Just being around older people that were having sex, it felt like I had to catch up with everybody. I think a lot pressure when you’re a [cisgender male] teen has to do with losing your virginity and negotiating relationships with women.”

He felt pressured by jock culture: “[That] still seems to present in a lot of high schools, particularly in places like where I grew up, where football was so important and top athletes are usually the most popular guys on campus. When you’re not that guy — and I was not that guy — it feels like your value isn’t the same as theirs.”

What young men are afraid of discussing with intimate partners: “Fear. People are afraid of talking about their fears and insecurities. They’re afraid of expressing emotion beyond anger, dominance, or power, and they’re afraid of getting in touch with their feminine side.

How young women can facilitate conversations about these insecurities with male significant others: “I think they can talk to each other more often. It’s hard because women are dealing with the same thing: they’re dealing with expectations about how they’re supposed to look and how they’re supposed to interact with men. I think we’re all trying to figure it all out, especially when we’re teenagers, but I think the key is to listen and empathize with one another.

He wants to make it cool to be a one-woman man: “I don’t want to present myself as the “perfect spouse” and I don’t want to present our relationship as the “perfect relationship” because I don’t think anybody meets that definition. I think it’s too much pressure to put on anyone. However, I don’t mind being known as somebody who’s devoted to their wife. I am devoted to Chrissy. And when I write about [my commitment to her], it’s me being authentic. I think it should be cool to be a good partner, a good spouse, a good father, and/or a good parent. If I’m one of the people who helps make that cooler, I think that’s great.

[From Cosmopolitan]

I respect John Legend and I respect Cosmo, but this program is for men and Cosmo asked him what girls can do to “facilitate” conversations about insecurities with men. That, to me, is the wrong conversation to have – girls are not responsible for toxic masculinity, and girls are often the victims of toxic masculinity. Have the conversation with boys and men about what they can do to better express themselves without putting any of the onus on girls and women. As for the rest of it… I like that John Legend is out there, representing men who unabashedly adore and cherish their wives. I just wish his wife was less annoying.

71st Annual Tony Awards - Arrivals

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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7 Responses to “John Legend talks ‘jock culture’, sex & toxic masculinity with Cosmopolitan”

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  1. Turtle says:

    This is a conversation worth having, for sure, but it’s coming from a product that claims “if you spray yourself with these chemicals, women will want to have sex with you.” So spend your money and fit in with everyone else! It explicitly does NOT want teens “to embrace who they are beyond such societal expectations.”

    JL’s interview provided some context, but, honestly, I’m tired of hearing people, celebs, corporations, charities, claim, “Just be who you are! Find your inner magic!” When literally everything, every message, we send is the exact OPPOSITE of that advice. I’d love to hear someone speak about how HARD it can be to actually do that; THEN you might reach someone who needs to hear it.

  2. Jillian says:

    Yes, she’s a bit annoying. Did anyone else see the tweet she made about marrying rich?

  3. detritus says:

    Yeah, thats my quibble too.
    Teen girls are already told they need to cater to their boyfriends in a variety of dissapointing ways. They don’t need to be their emotional wetnurses too.
    The advice should be about men learning to embrace and express their emotions, not about how teen girls should tease that out of them.

  4. INeedANap says:

    Women have made a lot of progress in terms of social justice in the last few decades. Men, not so much.

    As long as “good” men continue to excuse and support the bad behavior of other men nothing will change.

  5. JosieH says:

    Prediction: This guy is the next to get outed as a Whedonist (i.e. male feminist who privately treats women like utter crap).

  6. Sadie Marie says:

    Does anyone remember that time he just went and exposed his wife’s breast on the red carpet?

  7. raincoaster says:

    Oh, I love John Legend. If he and Chrissy ever part, I want his number. Not his fault that a men’s grooming unconsciously reflects aspects of toxic masculinity in their questioning.