In today’s world, there is far less pressure on men and women to conform to certain roles, and this has made it easier for them to be themselves. However, change doesn’t happen overnight, and while so much has been archived, there is still work to be done.
In the past, men had to be ‘strong’ at all times, and if they showed their vulnerability, they would be seen as ‘weak’. Women, on the other hand, were allowed to show their vulnerability, but it wasn’t acceptable for them to be seen as ‘strong’.
Based on appearances alone, it is clear to see that a man’s body is an expression of the masculine and a woman’s body is an expression of the feminine. Yet, even though this is the case, each gender is made up of masculine and feminine traits.
What this shows is that if a man always comes across as strong and a woman always comes across as vulnerable, they are out of balance. Therefore, they are not being true to themselves; they are simply playing a role.
Although this shows that they are playing a role, it doesn’t mean they realise what is happening, and if they have behaved in this way for most of their life, it might be seen as who they are. How they behave is then something that is defined by their gender, and the only way for them to change their behaviour would be to change their gender.
When this happens, it will be normal for someone to feel trapped. The role they play may allow them to receive positive feedback from others, but it won’t put an end to the pain they experience through living their life in this way.
As more people break out of the old roles and allow themselves to be who they are as opposed to who they are expected to be, the easier it is for others to do the same thing. With each day that passes, the easier it becomes for each gender to be themselves.
There will soon come a time where it will be seen as abnormal for a man to be strong all the time and for a woman to always act vulnerable. And when this happens, this is something that may no longer be of interest to society as a whole.
Of course, there will still be people who hold onto the old ways, but these will be few and far between. When change occurs, there is resistance, and this is because human beings get attached to how things are.
It won’t matter if they are attached to something that is having a negative effect; they are attached and to let go of the old way will create resistance. Even though playing a certain role is destructive, it will be what is familiar.
On one side, there will only be the pain that someone experiences through playing a role, and on the other side, there will also be the pressure other people experience through the role they play. This is because each and every one of us is being influenced by the people around us.
During someone’s early years, they look towards their caregivers to show them how to behave, and then as time passes, they are influenced by their friends and the media, for instance. As a result of this, it could be said that someone’s caregivers play a key role when it comes what they believe it means to be a man/women, and the people they come into contact with in the outside world either validate or invalidate what they have learned.
If someone is brought up by people who have moments where they reveal their vulnerability and moments where they come across as strong (regardless of their gender), it will allow them to embrace who they are. This is not to say that they won’t be influenced by the outside world, but these early experiences are likely to make it easier for them to be themselves.
When they come across men who hide their vulnerability or women who always come across as weak, they will know that they are hiding their true self. Whereas, if it wasn’t for these early experiences, they may come across this behaviour and think it’s normal.
If they were to come across a man who acts emotional or as though they can’t do something, they may end up telling them to ‘man up’. And if they see a woman acting in these ways, they may end up using the same words.
This is something that can not only come out of a man’s mouth; it can also come out of woman’s mouth. When this phrase is used, it is a way of telling someone to get themselves together or to develop a back bone, for instance.
However, while it can be easy to overlook these words and to say that it is only a phrase, words are powerful. If one was to take a deeper look at this phrase, they may start to see how destructive it can be to tell someone to ‘man up’.
When a man hears these words, he is being told that it is not possible for him to be vulnerable and to be a man. And as a result of this, he is also being told that it is only acceptable for women to be vulnerable.
Furthermore, this also means that women are inferior, and if a man was to express his emotional nature, he would be seen in the same way. It is then not possible for him to be a while human being; he has to hide his true feelings.
If a woman was to hear this, she may come to the conclusion that men are superior because they don’t show their emotions. And just as men are conditioned to cut themselves of from their softer side, a woman can feel the need to do the same.
Being vulnerable has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with being human. Yet, just because someone acts vulnerable, it doesn’t mean that they are weak and that they can’t act strong.
To embrace each side is to be a whole human being, and as more people come to realise this, the better off the human race will be. Women won’t need to be walked over and men won’t need to suffer in silence.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.