Let's Talk About Men!
We are becoming more aware that our traditional teachings of what it means to be "male" are problematic and harmful. So what should we do?
A man is the breadwinner of the family. A man is powerful and strong. A man doesn't show his tears, because they show he is weak. A man needs to find a wife that will do his bidding, otherwise he will be seen as weak by society. A man needs to go down to the pub and drink beer to show his manliness.
Sound familiar? We are becoming more aware that our idea of what it means to be "male" is causing issues in young men, as highlighted by the aggressive growth in self harm, suicide and low self esteem in young men. So how do we solve the problem?
Firstly, I think it's important to recognise that these stereotypes are simply not true. Our world is changing rapidly, and men are not the only people who can earn an income. Tears are not a sign of weakness, but simply an expression of emotion. Relationships are becoming more balanced, as are the roles that partners play within them. These stereotypes will not disappear overnight though - it will take some time to make these societal changes, and that requires some patience while we see the change happen before our eyes.
So how should we treat men? Like humans! Humans have personalities, characteristics, emotions, and these vary for each person. We need to learn to accept our differences and celebrate them. Let young men be who they want to be, and not force them to conform to our expectation of what it means to be "male".
Young men in turn need to learn to love themselves for who they are. They need to learn that they aren't failures if they aren't the stereotypical man that overpowers his wife and drinks a pint at the pub. They can be themselves and feel confident in their own skin, and not worry about whether they are being a "man" or not!
While we wish that such changes could happen overnight, that sadly isn't the case. It will take time for this change to happen, but talking about the issues and sharing experiences is an important step in the right direction!
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