So I've been doing a lot of reflecting the past couple days. Since I've been living in China, I have noticed that the stigma of "being a man" is very present. Being the only boy amongst my four sisters, I can relate to this status very much. The idea of manliness is nothing new to commercial conversation, but I thought I would donate my two cents.
Amongst the Chinese youth culture, they are extremely accepting of one another. There was a time when a male student had to present themselves to the class and they began their introduction with, "I am transgender and I am proud." Such an empowering start off for an 18 year old. It's impressive to me because, from previous conversations, their parents have a tremendous influence on what their major is going to be, who they will marry, in terms of ethnicity, and when they will have children. A male living in this culture feels tired. Tired of the expectations and demeaning stares for holding hands with another male. The word "man" is suppose to instill a sense of authority and reputation. The weight of the word man dates back to its 1920's heritage, when men's responsibility was to provide shelter, food and money for his family. Of course this is still relevant in todays American culture, but its roots of a working class man holds more weight in China (from what I've experienced). A mans job is to work and keep the family name cleansed of any negative reputation.
Now in America, we still have this conservative behaviorism. Men are still held to the standard of finding a good job and providing for his family. What Chinese and American youth culture have in common is the drastically evolving meaning of a man. The youth is defining their "manliness" by the way they respect the aspirations, perspectives and lives of their neighbor. It is in high hopes that "being a man" is abolished from our everyday phrases. "Be a man" carries the same imputation as "like a girl". Both equally degrading and incorrect forms of labeling.
A simple way for you to change your perspective on these stereotypes is looking in the mirror. Give yourself five minutes. Ask yourself, "Am I a man?" Whichever the answer may be, ask this next question, "Why?" Why is the most powerful inquiry. Is it the shape of your torso, your height, or even the size of your penis? Do these subjective physical appearances matter? Some may say yes. However, I encourage you to think the latter. I am confident that if you give yourself five minutes a day to appreciate yourself, then you will become the greatest man a man could be.