Amanda de Cadenet has been in the public sphere for more than 30 years, best known recently for centering women on her popular podcast, “The Conversation.” Now, she’s ready to explore a new category: men.
In “The Conversation: About the Men,” the 50-year-old discusses topics including mental health and positive sexual intimacy with notable guests, like Zachary Levi and Mike Tyson, making the argument that what’s needed to advance the feminist movement is for men to step up and be part of the dialogue.
In the first episode, premiering September 19, de Cadenet spoke candidly with Matthew McConaughey about his childhood experiences of abuse, as well as the importance of teaching consent to his children. The actor also discussed the impact of his 2020 memoir, Greenlights, echoing the podcast's intention. “I've had some people come to me and go, 'you let me know that self reflection is masculine,'” he said. “'You let me know that to write something down in a journal is pretty fucking cool. And at the same time, you remind me that being conscientious is cool.'”
Read on for how de Cadenet fearlessly approaches these nuanced and vulnerable conversations, and the topics she still hopes to broach.
Marie Claire: What made you start this series?
Amanda de Cadenet: Men have had a cultural reckoning. And it was abrasive, it was hard, it was sharp, and it leveled the playing field. The pendulum swung from one way to the other in a short period of time… . So, if we want to create tangible, impactful change for women, regarding men, we need to have them involved in the conversation.
MC: How did you approach this idea knowing that spaces like this have been controlled and dominated by men for years?
ADC: In deciding that I was going to focus some of my attention on men, and how we redefine masculinity, I had multiple people ask me, “Well, why are you giving a platform to men who have enough of a platform?” The point is: When was the last time you spoke to a man—who has a public voice—in an honest, thoughtful, engaged, and vulnerable way? Most people will say never. So what I'm really interested in doing is building bridges.
MC: You have some major names featured in this series, from Matthew McConaughey to Mike Tyson. What were some of those conversations like?
ADC: Matthew McConaughey spoke in such an articulate, educated, thoughtful way about what it means to be a man [today]. Charlamagne tha God talked about mental health and his experience with sexual assault as a child with such vulnerability. Mike Tyson—this is a man who has survived the unsurvivable in many regards; I know this is a man who comes from immense trauma... . This guy is a fighter, literally and metaphorically. He never gave up on himself. And he could have.
MC: What kind of envelope-pushing conversations were you having while working on this series?
ADC: The thing that happened that accelerated me doing this series was the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I was really disappointed with how few men had active voices in the horror that women's rights were stripped away, seemingly overnight. A lot of women I know had abortions because their partners wanted them to have abortions. In my book, [It’s Messy,] I wrote about having an abortion as well. So, I also talked about Roe v. Wade, with the guys on the show, and I've had great conversations about their feelings about the fact that the women in their lives—their sisters, their friends, their partners—are affected by this.
MC: Do you think that by centering men in these conversations, the podcast—and by extension, the topics you’re discussing—will receive more attention?
ADC: I'm really interested in speaking to people outside of the echo chamber. I firmly believe that in order for us to learn, we have to get exposed to different concepts, different theories, and different ideas. I picked [podcast guests] based on their life experiences and their perspectives because you cannot say we're talking to men about redefining masculinity in 2022 without having a diverse group of voices.
MC: Are there any other topics, outside of your comfort zone, that you hope to cover in this series?
ADC: I'm trying to speak to an incel. I have yet to find anyone who is a self-identified incel. But if we're going to talk about masculinity, we must not ignore the fringe. This didn't come from nothing. Incels don't end up incels and identifying with this group of people for nothing…people experience things in their lives that help define and shape their mindsets. From having interviewed thousands and thousands of people over so many years, I know when you start digging into people's backgrounds, you just understand a lot more about why they think and the way they think.
MC: Where do you hope to see this series go?
ADC: I'm just one woman with this perspective. But I know if I'm having these conversations privately, that there are so many people having these conversations privately [as well], and so that feels like a good time to bring them out into the public... . I'm hopeful that it opens the door for really important, needed conversations around masculinity, and I hope it creates a space for multiple, diverse genders to be able to communicate together.
New episodes of “The Conversation: About the Men” drop every Monday.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Emily Tisch Sussman is the Founder and Host of “She Pivots,” the podcast in partnership with Marie Claire about women, their stories, and how their pivot became their success. She is a contributing editor to Maire Claire and the guest host of the Marie Claire Instagram Live series “Getting Down to Business.”
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