In my last article, Women, what is your role in society? I received a response from a reader asking: “What about men’s role in society?”

I was quite pleased to have a male request it, as it validated my assumption that there is something going on in the male culture that is changing, despite the subtleness of that change. I have come to realize that men are expected to attain a certain level socially, financially, physically and emotionally in our society;  and any man who is not up to this level is often considered to be “less of a man” and is more likely to be undermined by both men and women. I cannot help but wonder, why are we doing this to our fellow men? Why do we have such high expectations of men that we often forget that men are also only human? Why do we, men and women, put so much pressure on men to be a certain way that we do not allow them to be their real, genuine, true selves?

The representation project, an organization that is aiming to destroy gender stereotypes and social injustices created a video that is a serious awakening to society. This video shows how we are wrongfully polluting the minds of our young boys; the same boys who will grow up and become the men in our society. All these diminishing comments and statements that we unknowingly and subconsciously make and throw at fellow men, such as “Be a man”, “Don’t be a pussy”, “Grow some balls”, “Don’t let a woman ….”, “Bros before hoes”, “Stop crying”, “Don’t show your emotions”, “Don’t let them see you hurt”, etc. is diminishing the male gender and deceiving men to become something they are not to prove what they already are – Men. Men are born men, there is no need to prove something that one already is! Women do not need to be feminine to prove that they are women. Men do not need to be dominant and masculine to prove that they are men. The worst thing is that this destructive mentality, behavior and belief system on men is distorting our boys’ views and mindset in what it means to be a man. It has become so embedded in our society and our subconscious, that we expect men to be a certain way… We think this is a norm. We all make comments without even thinking or realizing how we are failing our boys and embedding them with this negative mentality from early on. We are setting a terrible path for fellow men to follow. We force men to put on masks and pretend to be who they are not, because we are not accepting them nor allowing them to be who they are. Don’t you think it is time we change this concept of male and female roles and gender profiling? Isn’t it a shame that in 2016, people still believe that “women belong in the kitchen” and “men are responsible to financially provide for a family”? That if a man wants to be in charge of the kitchen, he is less manly. If he expresses his emotions, he is a “fag”. Why are we pushing men to be cold? Why are we degrading fellow men for their choices? So what if a man loves cooking? What if a man wants to be at home with his kids? What if the wife wants to stay at work? What if both mom and dad want to continue working? Or part time stay with the kids? Isn’t it shameful that we, men and women, are brainwashing and setting up our fellow men, sons, male friends, boyfriends, brothers, husbands, partners, etc. to a belief system that is pressuring them to hide who they really are and to be who we are expecting them to be? That they need to fit a certain “profile” in order to be “considered” a man? A fact that they already are? A mentality that is increasing the depression rate in men? Isn’t it time that we change the mindset and beliefs of our fellow men and young boys? A belief that not only hurts men, but also women and our society? Every time we are throwing words around, we are diminishing our male society! I want to empower women to think for themselves and to realize that they are free to go after what they want just as I want men to break free from the belief that you need to be a certain way or fit a certain standard in order to be considered a man. I want you to break free of the mentality and beliefs that have been set up for you since you were a young boy, a society that tells you, what and how you need to be like in order to ‘be a man’. You are already a man! Break out of that gender defined beliefs, roles, and stereotypes of men and of women, the beliefs you have been placed and forced to believe your entire life. Shatter it. Do not believe it. I do not want to have a son and have him believe that because he is born a male, his fate, and role in society is already predefined. Do you? He should be able to decide for himself how he lives his life.

I truly believe that many of the issues we face in society today between men and women are due to the cultural and social beliefs we have been raised with. We have been raised in a mentality that tells us that men do x and women do y. But who says that this is actually the way we are supposed to be living? Clearly this mentality is working against us. In many cultures, men are taught to believe that women are a weaker gender and that men must overperform in order to be considered a man. There is an imbalance in the way we expect men (and women) to be and the way they really are. This pressure on men and how “men are supposed to be like” is a downward spiral for society, men, women and our culture. Did you know that men are more likely to commit suicide? While there are many factors influencing this, such as depression, I can’t help but wonder whether this societal pressure influences this as well.

See also: Suicide Statistics

It is also said that men and women lie for different reasons and men lie to make themselves look better. This demonstrates the ‘need’ men feel to maintain appearance and attain the ‘status‘ of a man. However, it is this type of thinking that is distorting men’s mind on how they are supposed to be. I recall an event a few years ago where in class we were asked what would be one thing we wished we could change. A male teacher answered:

“I wish I were born a woman”

It was then at that moment that I first realized that men have a lot of difficulties as well for being a man and which are too often unspoken of. In another instance, I spoke to a male stranger who was having issues with his girlfriend; after the conversation, he said to me, “wow! this is the advice I expected from my best friend.” I then asked him, why hadn’t he spoken to his best friend about these issues? Clearly, it was something that was really bothering him. He responded by saying that this is something that “men don’t do… We speak about beer, women, and fun things. But when it comes to real or emotional problems, we don’t speak about that. We have an image to keep.” This is not the first time I have heard something like this. At that moment, I could not help but think, what a pity; this is someone who is supposed to be your best friend, a confidant, someone you should be able to trust, or at least, speak to in such moment of need, but for some reason, you feel that you cannot because “it is not manly” or acceptable. I am sure that he is not the only nor the first man who has experienced this. Shouldn’t you be able to express  yourself and how you really feel without being put down for feeling that way? Aren’t you equally human as the rest of us? Do you not feel emotions, happiness, sadness, pain, love, joy, excitement like the rest of us? So why are we being so hard on other men about how they should be like? Why are you?

In Sweden, the modern man is considered feminist. Now, I know some of you men are probably going to think, “ew, what?”…. But perhaps that is exactly the mentality that is the problem in our society. In Sweden, it is believed that ‘everyone should have, “the power to shape society and their own life”.’Men and women are equally responsible for their life, career, and family. Men are responsible for the raising of children. The government has for many years reinforced the mentality of equality. Father and mothers, both take time off to take care and spend time with their children. It is not only “maternal leave”, it is “parental leave”. There are many men who would love to take days off to spend time and play with the kids, but so many few societies actually reinforce this. Why? Why can’t men also have that? Why are you letting yourself be brainwashed into an image of how a man should be? If you want to cry, CRY! If you want to laugh, laugh! If you want to feel, feel! If you want to ask days off for parental leave, do so! Do not be afraid to ‘be a man’ – a man who is so comfortable in his skin that you realize that you DO NOT need the approval of society to be a man, because you already are a man! So go and be a free man, a man who is real, who is genuine, who is human, who feels, who is aware of his emotions, of his behavior and understands that you need to fully accept and love yourself in order to be able to be happy. Everyone deserves happiness – and you are not an exception. So do not let anyone ever make you feel any less of a man because you are honest – about yourself – with yourself and with others.

This illustration (click here) shows that men are not inherently aggressive and women are not inherently submissive, however, due to the roles played out throughout history, psychological attitudes and forms of conditioning were created. This created the gap between men and women. However, this shows that we are not naturally different in being. We are conditioned and raised by our culture, society and norms that show us how to behave and what to believe in… However, at the end of the day, we are all the same. We are all human. Yes, we differ biologically and in our bone structure and in other ways, however, at our inner core, we are all the same and we seek the same things. Do not be fooled to think that because you are a man, your heart’s desires are any different – to other males or to other women.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

We divide humans into categories in order to define them, but we seem to forget that we are humans above all. We are complex beings and cannot be put in “a box”. Being placed in a category in no way defines who you are. Definitely not in today’s civilization where globalization is at its peak. Humans are constantly moving, changing, adapting, learning, growing; cultures are integrating as more people migrate. How can we be placed in a gender role, that aims to explain who we are? Especially when we are learning from other men, women, children,  and different cultures who are breaking our barriers, our mentalities and showing us that “how we do things” is not per se the best way to do things or to think or to be. In this article, I am showing you and telling you that “the role of a man” which you have been taught to believe is not the role you need to be. You are the role you choose to be. You choose whether you are a great man or a horrible man. You decide the kind of man you want to become. Be that man respectful, kind, humane, generous, mean, vulgar, rude, abusive, demeaning or whatever, you alone are responsible for that choice. That is your choice. So do not ever think that your future or behavior lies in the hands of another man!

There is a saying that goes “a real woman is whatever she wants to be”… Well, in return to say I will say:

“A real man is whatever he wants to be. A man knows that he does not need to prove his masculinity or manhood to anyone in order to show that he is a man. A man is comfortable in his skin, he is comfortable to be himself, to express himself and above all, to be honest to himself and to others.” – Katherine Granada

Furthermore, in my post on women’s role in society, I also mentioned this which I will mention here as well to you. If you ever decide to be with someone, let it be that it is because you are choosing a partner- an equal to you. Not a subordinate, not a boss – a partner. Someone on your level, someone you see eye to eye, someone whom you will grow and develop with; not a person who will tell you how to lead your life nor you tell him/her how to lead his or her life. It is a partnership of two, where two people clean, two people cook, two people take care of the children, of each other, and of themselves. It is a relationship of two. No one is better than the other, no one is worse than the other, and in any way thinking that you are above or below the other gender or someone else shows the mentality you have been instilled with and try to figure out whether this is the way you wish to continue thinking. This mentality may be holding you back in life and in your success and happiness! Because no one is better than any other person. We are all human. Men are human, women are human and trying to identify a gender as the better, stronger, more dominant one is a losing battle because none are either. They are equal. Until you can grasp this, you will meet many troubles with the opposite sex, you will encounter misunderstandings and indifferences because you are not looking at each other from eye-to-eye but from above or below; in that, there is no partnership.

On that note, dear men, dare to be yourself. Genuinity is a beautiful thing and it is the genuine persons who are most loved. Therefore, do not be afraid to show your true colors. If anyone discourages you or puts you down for being your honest, truthful self, remember that if you hide who you really are, you will never allow yourself the opportunity to find authentic genuine people who will love you for your character, for who you are – because you are too busy hiding behind a mask! Never stop learning. Never stop growing. Never stop developing and becoming a better man. Life is a long journey of growth and while you are on this journey, let that little inner boy come out and be his true self… Only then can you allow others to purely love you and show the world who you truly are. No one is perfect, we are all flawed, but it is exactly this that makes us all so beautiful. If you can’t see that, then allow someone who sees this, show you that.

“I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before!”
C. JoyBell C.

So tell me dear men… will you continue hiding behind your mask? Or will you allow your honest, genuine self to shine and be the man you wish to become? Will you allow your young sons, brothers and friends to shine as well? Or will you continue to be limited by the beliefs of society and their definition of what it means to “be a man!”?

What are your thoughts? You can engage in comments below. Please engage only in respectful commenting.