Op-Ed: Redefining the man
In light of a powerful feminist movement that has reinvigorated the fight for equality and brought together millions in an effort to fundamentally change the way women are seen and treated in American culture, it is important to begin a dialogue from a different perspective. One that is just as important but is quite often not given a voice.
Let’s talk about men, our struggles with vulnerability, insecurity and our relationship with each other as well as with the women around us.
There is an expectation in our culture that we as men must always be powerful, strong and composed. Any display of emotion is considered to be a show of weakness and sharing struggles and insecurities is socially unacceptable. We are always fine, never hurting, riding tall on a high horse through thick and thin. But what happens if we fall? Are we allowed to be human, show emotion without being judged or seen as less of a man?
The truth is, we as men often feel insecure, suffer from heartaches and struggle with our identity, but we keep quiet because of the immense pressure to maintain our masculinity. We are expected to sustain a “manly facade” by participating in competitive sports, going to the gym to build our bodies and achieving financial success. This pressure from both men and women in our lives has created a culture that is slowly destroying our ability to have deep and meaningful relationships with those around us.
I know that in my own life, I have often put up a brick wall to hide my pain, even from people who have shown me unconditional love and support. I did not feel comfortable sharing my emotions with others because I was terrified of being seen as less of a man. I stood strong when I was weak and acted confident when I felt insecure, all in an effort to protect my image. Our culture taught me that vulnerability is weakness and it was only until recently through self-reflection and meditation that I began to understand vulnerability is the purest form of courage.
We all have flaws, but also the ability to acknowledge and share them with the world. The world is what connects us and helps us realize that deep down we all want the same things. We want to be loved, understood, make a difference and believe that we are enough. The absence of honest and open connection between men has created a culture that does not fulfill these basic human needs and has negatively affected our community for generations.
We must start an honest dialogue to question why men are always expected to be strong and why emotion, pain and struggle are seen as weakness. These are not male or female issues, these are human issues and they can only be solved through joint collaboration as well as a fundamental change in culture.
So as men, let's do our part: Join the feminist movement, question cultural norms and fight for equality. Let’s talk to each other about our struggle with body image, heartbreak and insecurity. Let’s talk about how we treat women and let's talk about the pressure to be strong even when our lives are falling apart.
I challenge us to fully and honestly acknowledge when we are hurting and to develop real and vulnerable relationships with the people around us.
I challenge us to work together with women to start a movement that redefines what it means to be a man.
David Filanovsky is an LSA sophomore.