There are 7.2 billion souls that exist on this space and place we know as Planet Earth.
Each soul comes to the Planet with a unique gift and a specific purpose – a reason for being. At least 3,571,374,099 of these 7.2 billion souls are Men – Our Sons, Fathers, Grandfathers, Great Grandfathers, Uncles, Brothers, Nephews, Cousins, Husbands, and Fiancées. Many of these 3,571,374,099 souls are struggling to balance the ever-changing and confusing barrage of expectations placed upon them by society and by those who profess to love them.
These 3,571,374,099 souls are fed a steady diet of mixed signals about masculinity, their roles and responsibilities in society, and the rules of engagement for courtship and marriage. Men are encouraged to be “strong” and bombarded with warped messages about being strong. “Being strong” is about never compromising . . . never wavering . . . and always being stoic. This does not leave Men with a lot of room for flexibility. It is a recipe for disaster. Over time, everything and anything that is not flexible, breaks. Is that what we want? Can the village afford to have Men, who are the glue that holds our families and our communities together, become broken?
Let’s get it right.
A strong man is so comfortable in his own skin that he can compromise without abandoning his moral compass. If flexibility serves the best interests of the family and the village, a strong man exercises flexibility. When Men appear stoic, we accuse them of being distant . . . cold . . . unfeeling . . . emotionally unavailable. Yet if a man expresses an emotion – his vulnerability . . . if he cries . . . we characterize this expression as a symbol of weakness.
Let’s get it right. A man has the same range of emotions as a woman. Our sons emerge from the womb with the same set of emotions as our daughters. Somewhere along their journey from childhood to manhood, we tell them, “Men don’t cry.” They are told that a man – a real man does not cry out in anguish when he is in pain – be it physical or emotional. No matter how severe the pain, a man – a real man – endures the pain and never cries out. Is it realistic to expect someone to experience pain – no matter how severe – and not react to it? Is it healthy?
Let’s get it right. Let’s start thinking about what Men really need.
What do Men really need? Men need to be allowed the same level of emotional freedom that Women enjoy. We should not put Men in the position where they feel obligated to always play the role of the “Tough Guy.” Men need and must be allowed to exercise emotional freedom. We must create a safe harbor for Men to express their deepest emotions – particularly emotional pain and anguish. When they cry, their manhood should not be called into question. Which would you rather have? A man who is so strong and comfortable in his own skin that he freely expresses the range of emotions he came into this world with? Or a man who outwardly displays the role of the “Tough Guy”, hides his pain and anger, never cries out, and then one day implodes by committing suicide. Or explodes by unleashing his rage upon others by engaging in reckless and deadly acts of violence?
Let’s get it right. Let’s begin thinking about what Men want.
Men — the 3,571,374,099 souls on Planet Earth — want to be respected. At the same time, they seek answers to the proverbial questions:
- Do you see me?
- Do you hear me?
- Do I matter?
- Do you respect me?
- Will you love me unconditionally?
- Can I trust you with my heart?”
These 3,571,374,099 souls are telling us:
“I’m not perfect. I make mistakes and sometimes I make bad choices. But don’t give up on me.”
But are we listening? Do we get the message? It’s difficult to hear what the Men in our lives are saying if we are clinging to unfounded notions that Men are emotionless automatons and believe that a man’s worthiness is determined by the size of his bank account and the thickness of his wallet.
Let’s get it right. Let’s meet Men halfway.
Women have a critical role to play in meeting Men halfway. Let’s meet Men halfway by examining and changing our concepts about Men and their roles and responsibilities. Is what we believe about Men factual? The thickness of a man’s wallet or the size of his bank account does not determine his worthiness – nor is it – or should it be the yardstick by which his manhood is measured. Men are not emotionless automatons. They laugh, love, cry, and hurt. They feel joy, pain, and sadness, At times they feel lonely and get depressed. Betrayal and rejection are devastating to a Man. Men are fragile . . . vulnerable – like all souls on Planet Earth.