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Two freshmen combat stereotypes about masculinity in new podcast “Really, Bro?”

Courtesy of Munira Alimire

As the hosts of their premiere show “Really, Bro?”, Evan Kanji ’22 and Sammy Potter ’22 are making bold strides in the podcasting industry with listeners in ov 30 countries. Along with guests such as Cenk Uygur, political commentator and host of “The Young Turks,” and Philip George Zimbardo, creator of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, Kanji and Potter tackle stereotypes and issues surrounding masculinity.

The duo met on a Stanford Pre-Orientation Trip (SPOT). After Potter shared his life story — in what is called a Spotlight — to the group, it sparked a friendship between the two that brought their conversations from the beach to the recording studio.

Considering each other brothers rather than co-hosts or friends, Kanji and Potter are able to be vulnerable with one another and their listeners in a manner that allows their guests to open up as well. Kanji recounted to The Daily how vulnerable both of them felt while sharing the stories of their worst first dates.

“[Sharing embarrassing stories] was the point of the episode because people always tell success stories, but whenever a date goes badly, you bottle it up and hide it,” he said.“We wanted people to know this happens to everyone. So many people go through it but so few are willing to share it.”

Guests were able to be be humanized by audiences to share stories from everyday experiences, not only from their professional lives, as well as how masculinity affects them on a daily basis, they said.

Kanji and Potter are able to draw from their individual passions to display a diversity of opinions on air. The two said they share a desire for helping various communities within their hometowns. While Kanji draws on his passion for environmental justice in his hometown, Flint, Mich., Potter brings forth an economic perspective through his interest for entrepreneurship and prosperous job markets. They are also heavily involved in activities and student groups on campus, participating in Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES), Camp Kesem and the Stanford Band.   

Growing up, the two experienced what they categorize as “toxic masculinity,” both at home with their families and on the field while engaging in sports. Through “Really, Bro?” the hosts attempt to cultivate an open space for everyone to challenge societal stereotypes surrounding masculinity that affect everyone, not only men. They tackle topics prevalent in daily life around crying, feminism, fashion, sexual assault and gym culture.

Through their work, Kanji and Potter do not explicitly reject “bro culture,”  but they do recognize the “inherent flaws” that foster a sense of exclusivity and are harmful to even those in those groups. The two founded the podcast, they said, in part due to the fact that, throughout their lives, they witnessed the need for more open dialogue about masculinity.

“There are all these spaces where men don’t talk about the things that go on and, in not talking about it, they keep the space masculine,” Kanji said.

The word “bro” plays a pivotal role in the mission of the podcast, which Kanji and Potter carry into their lives as well. Through their podcast, Kanji and Potter hope to rebrand the word to be inclusive to all genders and inspire others to challenge the definition.

“Being a ‘bro,’” Potter said to The Daily, “is doing the right thing, being loyal to those you love, keeping other people safe, bringing love to the world, having emotions, questioning things, being intellectual, not being afraid of being ‘feminine’ and not being afraid of being ‘masculine.’”

“Being a bro is doing everything you can to be your best self,” he added.  

Already, the show has inspired people to examine the role masculinity plays in their everyday lives. Potter shared the story of a listener who resonated with a “Really, Bro?” episode on crying. The listener realized that he had not cried for an uncomfortable amount of time, and challenged himself to write about experiences that would provoke an emotional response, Potter said. Potter credits the power of audio for helping listeners embark on that journey.

Looking forward, Kanji and Potter hope to further influence the way in which everyone examines stereotypes around masculinity, even when challenging these topics may seem taboo. The two said that through their efforts, they hope to inspire their listeners through speaking candidly with a diversity of guests and continuing to be vulnerable in order to redefine what it means to be a “bro.”

Contact Leily Rezvani at lrezvani ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Leily Rezvani

Leily Rezvani

Leily Rezvani is the managing editor of podcasts and a desk editor of news. She is a sophomore majoring in Symbolic Systems in hopes of better understanding the intersection between technology and the humanities. Leily has interned for National Public Radio, Google Arts and Culture, the United Nations Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Contact Leily at lrezvani ‘at’ stanford.edu.