'Jane the Virgin' Star Justin Baldoni Tackled Toxic Masculinity Perfectly in His TED Talk

You may know Justin Baldoni as the pretty face of Rafael Solano on The CW's Jane the Virgin, but off-screen, the actor is a champion for women's rights and equality. Justin gave a passionate speech about redefining masculinity at the TEDWomen conference in New Orleans, Glamour reports, and his words give me hope for the entire male population. 

In the wake of dozens of sexual assault accusations against some of Hollywood's biggest names, Justin has taken it upon himself to start a dialogue about toxic masculinity. His speech, titled "Why I'm Done Trying to Be 'Man Enough,'" dives into the cultural stereotypes that have allowed misogynistic behavior to be considered the "norm." As the star of a feminist show, Justin admitted that he is often seen as a "feminine man," meaning that he isn't always taken seriously by the male audience that he's so desperately trying to reach. 

“I believe that as men, it’s time we start to see past our privilege and recognize that we are not just part of the problem, fellas, we are the problem,” he said. “The glass ceiling exists because we put it there. And if we want to be a part of the solution, then words are no longer enough.”

Justin keeps the conversation of toxic masculinity alive on his social platforms, but his following is overwhelmingly female. The actor hopes to gain the attention of more men but has realized that he must be stereotypically manly to do so. Talking to Glamour, Justin explained that he started posting about working out and sharing exercise videos in order to increase his male following. Ironically, it worked.

"If I want to talk to men, I do have to kind of be a man… Because if I’m a 'girly man,' then they’re not going to listen, but if I can do more pull-ups than you and if I can do that crazy workout that I guarantee can kick your ass, then you’ll listen to me, right?"

The instance above is exactly the issue that Justin addresses in his speech. As he said to Glamour, "I don’t think there’s anything wrong with men inherently; I think it’s what we’ve learned and the roles that we play." Men have been conditioned to see themselves as stronger, less emotional and more professionally successful than women, and there's no one to blame but society.

"This is the script that we’ve been given,” Justin said in his speech. “Girls are weak, and boys are strong… I came here today to say as a man that this is wrong, this is toxic, and it has to end.”

Justin admitted that the issue of toxic masculinity affects him as well. In fact, he made a point to acknowledge his own privilege and reached out to other feminists to ensure his speech was supportive and non-offensive.

"By nature, I would have mansplained something because I have the privilege of being a white male and I’ve been mansplaining my whole life—that’s just the way it is," Justin said of preparing his speech. "There’s no way that I could have given this talk without the support and help of women, there’s just no way."

The more people, male or female, supporting and empowering women, the better.