I am a man.
This week we sat down with Connor Beaton, founder of Man Talks, to chat about what it means to be a modern man. Man Talks is a Vancouver based forum for men to express themselves and promote emotional health, among many other amazing things. They have grown into cities all over North America and spread the message that talking about hard topics is key to the mental health of men everywhere. This week's blog post is an opinion piece brought to you by Taylor.
Man. I’m a man. I…am…a…man. What does that mean? What makes a man…a man? Muscles? A penis? An impeccable ability to suppress emotion?
I used to think these were the things that made me a man, and culturally, so have a lot of other people. Where did that come from? How did we let millions of males begin to think that this was some sort of standard for being a man? I think what makes a man is the same thing that allows anything on this earth to exist with strength and grace, and that is balance. If you lift weights, you have to stretch. If you eat shitty food, get up and get outside. If you want to be masculine, you have to discover your feminine.
A culture of separation seems to have taken over our society. Doing something “like a girl” is an insult that is used to make a man feel weak and inadequate. Somewhere along the way, males in North America began developing the idea that to be a man means destroying anything that resembles something we align with femininity. The ripple effect that this has caused is staggering. Men are often silent, and with having no outlet for emotion lays the foundation for higher risk of mental illness and suicide.
We’ve lost our sense of balance. Can we try to be more vocal when we fall on hard times? Can we speak up when the discovery of an illness begins to take a toll on our minds? Can we express ourselves creatively without the fear of judgement from our peers? These are all integral pieces of what it means to be a modern man. A strong man is not a distant man. He is a proud, compassionate, emotional, tolerant and expressive man. And further than that, he is a man that gives silent permission to men around him to be the same through his leadership. If we can begin to make these ripples in the pond of society, we will begin to strengthen not only the relationship between men and the way in which we interact with each other, but the relationships and interactions that occur with everyone around us.
- Taylor MacGillivary