Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Be a Man
A portrait project redefining masculinity for today and tomorrow.
I recently introduced my portrait project entitled "Be a Man." My goal is to tell the stories of the men who are redefining what it means to be a man. I want to share the stories and the legacy of men, young and old, who know that true men are empathetic, compassionate, and understanding, who give to others more than take for themselves, who know that love, humility, kindness, and selflessness are the true mark of a man.
I am inspired to do this project by and for my wife and kids. The best way to make positive change is to set an example for our children. The actions our children see and the words our children hear will set the model for their future.
I hug and kiss my kids throughout the day. They have seen me cry many times. I cook and clean. I stayed home for two years and cared for our children. My kids see more than the stereotypical man every day.
My wife and I work hard to raise children who know that men and women come in all sizes and colors and can be all things. We read books and watch shows that reject stereotypical gender roles. When we come across a show or a book that clings to those typical gender identities, we question them. We ask if that's fair or right. We make sure that they know that boys and girls are equally deserving of respect, opportunity, and love.
As an educator, I teach literature that challenges the notion of a man. The stories of The Kite Runner, The Things They Carried, and The Female of the Species, to name a few, help me talk about masculinity with each year's impressionable minds. Bit by bit, I chip away at the monument to masculinity we have built over centuries.
I show my children that admiring women is part of being a man. Men need to be okay admiring women.
When it comes to women to admire, I first think of my wife. I admire her giving heart. She works tirelessly for others, whether that be our family or her students. I admire her sense of humor, her passion for politics and social change, her belief in the goodness of others. I admire her love and care for our children. I admire how she knows how important it is to work together to build the best family that we can. I admire that she follows her dreams, takes risks, and believes in the potential of the future.
Part of this is also providing examples to our young boys of amazing women they can look up to. I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Spend even five minutes reading about her life, and you will see why. The photographer who has influenced me the most is a woman. Her guidance, mindset, enthusiasm, openness, and talent are empowering. Her name is Sue Bryce, and I wouldn't have the business I have today without her. My two favorite podcasts are hosted by women, and while on the surface one is about the television show The Office, it's really about the amazing friendship of the two hosts. To listen to two women enjoy each other's company, crack jokes, and reminisce about the past is such a joy.
What are the ways that you and your family question typical gender roles? How are you raising your boys to understand that women are equally entitled to love, compassion, and respect? What women do you hold up as models for your children?
I invite you to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me the story of someone who would be perfect for this project.
Each participant will have their portraits and their story featured on my blog, on social media, and in a printed collection.
It's time that we shine a light on the men in your life--young and old--who are redefining masculinity for today and tomorrow, for it should be these men we think of when we say, "Be a man."