"Historically with sharing sites, the demographic is more female," they told The Atlantic Wire, "Maybe that’s because of how the sharing is set up. We’re trying to build things out in a way that makes it easier with a man’s mindset and makes it easier to share. Social sharing should be really easy." Part of that is cultivating a very focused type of content, at least compared to the range on Pinterest -- so you'll see a lot of bacon, mustache waxes, leather messenger bags, and so on. One thing you won't see are women in bikinis: "We don’t want anything that objectifies women in any way. That's what we try to keep an eye on the most, but we haven’t had many people at all try to do that."
Alexis Ohanian is the founder of the social news site Reddit, which skews about 75 percent male and is considered one of the most dude-centric places online. But despite the temptation some might have to brush the Reddit community off as a bunch of Internet-stereotype nerds who barely interact, much less share, many of the threads reflect a different reality. Ohanian told us, "It's a really great community of dudes. One of my favorite threads is AWW, which is just cute animal photos. There's another of male fashion advice, guys posting strategies and tips and questions about how to dress better. Plenty of women and fashionable dudes show up and offer advice and constructive feedback." There's a weight loss community, and even a group for people to encourage each other following breakups. Tech nerds are sharing about fashion and dating and weight loss? Ohanian attributes the seemingly impossible to a simple platform that led to the creation of a community, helped along by the fact that "people can be a little more anonymous and candid," in comparison to IRL.
"I hate living up to male stereotypes, but it's true," he says. "I think it's a combination of the scale and the anonymity on the Internet. My closest friends, guys I've known since kindergarten, the only parties we went to were LAN parties, so we'd just bring our computer to someone's house and spend the weekend playing video games. We talk tech, geeky things. When I want fashion advice, I can't go to my crew." In contrast, the Internet provides scale and the ease and comfort to ask and answer questions that may lie outside the comfort zone. "You'll see...anything is fair game: What do you think of this haircut?, whatever. There actually is very little shaming or bullying, and the comment system does a really good job at punishing bad behavior," he says.
Barneys creative ambassador-at-large Simon Doonan told The Atlantic Wire that the Internet is definitely creating a place for guys to share. In fact, he was emphatic: "1000 percent yes," he said, "Lots of guys are still inhibited about spending too much time yakking about styling or grooming issues. The Internet provides a safe space for a little covert creative vanity. Hordes of men cruise our WINDOW website at Barneys looking for tidbits. We make sure they are never disappointed." Does he share online, too? Doonan admits, "I am a bit slow to catch on. I have just started grooving on Pinterest."
Aaron Perlut, chairman of the American Mustache Institute
(a guy haven that's been around since the early days of the Internet), believes that sites like Gentlemint provide a next-level sharing experience for dudes. "Pinterest was a trend leader in terms of a new way of sharing, with the online pin-up method, but Gentlemint is taking it to the next step," he says. "It’s issue-focused and more specific. It speaks to the way we engage." And men are
engaging more, he thinks, whether on Gentlemint or elsewhere: "On an almost monthly basis it seems we’re evolving in how we interact with each other online. Today’s millennial is far more culturally expressive than any other generation before him; that’s why there’s such a great interest in creating tools to help express those interests." Perlut, who's also the partner in a marketing agency and has extensive experience marketing to men, speculates that some of this new sharing culture is backlash to a sense of emasculation during the metrosexual years, which was then followed by an uprising of "bros," followed by "a revolt against what I would call the douchebag mentality." What we have now is "kind of an anti-douchebag movement that could encompass metrosexuals, that could encompass the emasculated male. I think you’re seeing this movement to a more husky male, more manly in a rounded way -- whether it's wearing more plaid or drinking craft beers that's perceived as being more 'manly.'”
Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness blog, which began in 2008 and currently attracts 2 million unique users monthly -- mostly men aged 18 to 35 -- thinks it's all about empowering men to actually have these conversations, which more naturally spring up online. He says, "Over the past five years I definitely have seen more and more men step into the lifestyle genre on the Internet. I think what's happened is men are tired of popular culture dictating what masculinity does. The Internet allows them to create their own idea and share it with others who are like-minded. It used to be called metrosexual, effeminate, whatever...now you can be a macho guy and interested in looking good."