When Jared Yates Sexton’s grandma researched their family tree, she discovered a long line of “scofflaws, debtors, drunkards and out-and-out criminals.”
The working class men he grew up with in Linton, Indiana, could never quite get ahead, especially as industrial jobs dried up.
But at home, their power was absolute. Often maintained by violence, intimidation and a rigid masculinity that was toxic to their families, communities and selves.
Sexton, an associate professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University, joined us to talk about these men and what inspired him to write The Man They Wanted Me to Be, his memoir of struggling to fit that tradition version of maleness — as well as an examination of research on how those traits measurably harm the mental and emotional health of those men and the public. He will be at the Decatur Book Festival on Aug. 31.
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