Updated: Oct 31, 2019
Song: "Raise a Man" - Alicia Keys
In the media, I feel like there is a dominant ideal for males. Men are supposed to be strong, the breadwinner, tough, a protector of some sort. I deal with gender stereotypes too. I can understand the concept of the pressure guys might be dealing with. There are a lot of men in my life who sit comfortably within the "ideal" parameters, but they are so much more than those traits. The men in my life who might not be as burly, or strong, to me their "unchecked" boxes don't make them any less manly. Not even a little. What a man means to me isn't rooted out of a physical build, or mechanical capabilities. Every man, like women, is different. Hair differs, skin colour is variant. Humour is completely subjective. Style and personality are so completely unique to every single person.
A man to me is character.
Every male I consider a man in my personal life has four character traits, I've talked about them below.
A man to me is . . .
1. He is cooperative
I feel like there's an expectation for men to always be the leader in team situations. Consequently, that means women are expected to be submissive, but that's not what this post is about. Another time. The men I love and respect in my life work with the women around them. They are not always the loudest person in the room. They take suggestions and celebrate valid opinions regardless of where or who they come from. They see women eye-to-eye, not as someplace below them.
2. He is not afraid to be vulnerable
My guy friends talk about this all the time. They say they feel pressure to always be strong, to never show weakness. It took me sixteen years to see my dad cry. My guy friends leave the room, or they walk around when they start to get emotional. Guys have feelings too. They probably have things going on in their lives that might make them cry. Crying is said to signal weakness, I think it's an expression of human-ness. Seeing my dad cry at sixteen (it was about my mom), still to this day is my most potent memory/connection to him. I saw my dad in a totally different light from that point on, I truly mean this. Life isn't great all the time, and we people make mistakes, like a lot of them. Men to me are not afraid to admit that they're scared, or insecure, or lost.
3. He strives for real connections
Relationships to them aren't just about looks, or situations, or fear of loneliness. The men in my life are pursuing people who laugh at the same jokes as them, who have the same ambitions, women/men who challenge them to be better. They are not pursuing anything to just pass some time. They are chasing after people who they want to grow with. They don't run away from bumps in relationships, they work hard because they want something real. They are not afraid to talk about their feelings, and they put away their pride when it comes to women/men they love.
4. He admits it when he's wrong
This is a universal one in my opinion (men, women, dogs etc.), but I think it's relevant to this post. The men I look up to in my life are not afraid to own up to their mistakes. They don't push their own ways or side. They are appreciative of their corrections. They value growth. They are not aggressively defensive over the things they've screwed up. I respect men and women who have this trait, it's a really hard one to have. I struggle with this myself. The guys in my life who have this trait are superheroes to me.
I don't want for this post to be discriminatory, or offputting for males. Every person is on their unique pursuit of happiness. People are in different places in life. What a thirty-year-old man has figured out, will not be the same as someone fifteen years younger than him. These traits are solely relevant to my life. What a man is for me might not be the same for other people. I'm writing about the men in my life who inspire me to be a better person, a better woman. The men/guys I think about when I write this I believe are great male-figure examples for younger males; they are amazing fathers, uncles, friends, who I am so so lucky to have.