WOMEN
11/30/2015 02:01 pm ET

What Little Boys Hear When We Tell Them To 'Be A Man'

There’s more to manliness than “being strong.”

What does it mean to "be a man?"

It's a simple question, but one that yields complex and thought-provoking answers in a new clip from Cut Video. In the three-minute clip, boys and men ranging from the ages of five to 50 are asked to do word association in response to the phrase "be a man."  

Unsurprisingly, the youngest participants, respond with words like "tough," "courage," "strong," and "insult." But as the men in the video get older, some of their responses become more nuanced. 

"[It's] misleading," one 21-year-old says. "I've learned that being a man doesn't mean to shut out your feelings, it means to embrace them." 

A 15-year-old adds, "I feel like that's kind of sexist, when someone just says 'be a man.' There are strong women as well."

But amazingly, amidst thoughtful responses questioning the implications of a phrase like "be a man," many of the participants in the video, even up to the age of 50, still use words like "provider," "strong," and "unafraid." 

The clip, which you can watch above, proves that gender stereotypes can harm men as much as they do women. The trick, it seems, is to teach boys early on that being a man isn't only about being strong. 

 

Also on HuffPost:

PHOTO GALLERY
"Masculinities" by Chad States
CONVERSATIONS