What makes a man?

In the UC auditorium Thursday, journalist and writer Joel Stein answered this question.

Hosted by the Issues Committee, a branch of the Central Program Council, Stein presented "A Stupid Quest for Masculinity," based on his book of the same name.

Stein, a Stanford graduate and writer for Time Magazine, recalled growing up in an extremely liberal family.

However, his parents wanted him to play sports, so he played soccer, but often got bored and picked dandelions instead.

"It is the unmanliest sport of all, for the guys who can't play other sports," Stein said.

In 2012, after learning he would soon become a father to his first son, Stein published his book, "Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity."

"At first, all I thought was, 'I want a healthy kid, gender doesn't matter,'" he said.

However, Stein quickly realized that having a boy was more intimidating than he originally supposed.

"I didn't want my son to be the kid who goes out with the cool neighbor dad on camping trips or to sports games, and I really didn't want one of his future sports coaches to play his father figure also," Stein said.

Determined to complete "manly" rites of passage before the birth of his child, Stein viewed a dead body, drove a Lamborghini and served as a firefighter for a day.

He also enlisted in a branch of the military for three days. Yet, what Stein discovered through these experiences provided new insight on gender roles, he said.

"Look for things in your life that you are interested in, things that motivate you," Stein said. "Hunting turkeys at 4 a.m. doesn't motivate me.

"This quest for masculinity has really taught me to push myself, and to step out of my boundaries, which I think is important for everyone."

Jared Glenn, a junior in accounting, said he appreciated Stein's view of the male role in society.

"He brought a different view to masculinity to the audience," Glenn said. "He's a really funny speaker, which I think made the audience comfortable and set a lighter tone for his lecture.

"If you're a guy who is not extremely masculine, Stein showed the audience that not being manly doesn't mean you aren't a man."

Robin Lovett, vice chair for Issues Committee, also said she thought Stein's lecture brought a valuable viewpoint to campus.

"Men are constantly being forced to define their masculinity within incredibly narrow confines," Lovett said, "and this has negative consequences for all of us, whether it be due to the way that we interact with men in our lives or the way that masculine people are forced to see themselves."