To even ask the question “What does it mean to be a man?” reveals an insecurity that many men experience. We shouldn’t need to ask! It implies that “a man” is a certain type of person who behaves and looks a certain way. The reality is no standard exists. There is no "type" of man; there are only men, who are as dissimilar from one another as people can be.
"What is clear is that in the year 2017 there are many ways to be a man. The archetype of the man who likes sport and beer and doesn’t have emotions is dead. And good riddance. I prefer Rick Owens and anime. (Beer can stay.)"
– James L
"Being a guy in 2017 means being the best person you can be. That is, being the best version of yourself – controlling your impulses, being responsible, having self-awareness. It means doing everything you can to reach your goals, letting go of fear and self-doubt, while also knowing your limits. It means being a good friend, son, brother, father."
– Benjamin C
"Growing up, I felt a lot of pressure to look or dress a certain way and take part in 'manly' activities. Certain things were for lads and everything else was for girls.
"Today, I think being a man is about having the confidence to do whatever makes you happy, regardless of gender. Whether you're into wearing certain clothes or have a particular hobby, no one should feel pressured to be one type of person."
– Ben A
"Being a man to me is far from the definition of being a man for my grandfather. His was that stereotypical macho stuff like walking to work 5km in the snow and building things with his own hands. I think the last thing I built with my hands was a sandwich.
"To me, being a man means working hard at whatever you do, being proud of that work, and doing so with integrity. I don't need to be the sole breadwinner as long as I'm bringing my share of bread to the table. Even if it's just to make a sandwich."
– Casey M
"Being a man in 2017 means not being afraid to be who you are. As a gay man, I feel it is incredibly important that no guy is pressured into being an inauthentic 'masculine' version of himself.
"When I was younger, I was afraid to be myself. I'd adapting my personality around what other guys were doing and hide the things I enjoyed like art and singing. As I got older, I became more comfortable with who I was, and, eventually, I stopped hiding. I think that in 2017 we have a much safer environment to be who we want to be with less fear of judgement."
– Ben W
"Being a man in 2017 means not being afraid to talk about your feelings. People from my dad’s generation and before used to bottle everything up.
"The old idea that you've got to keep everything inside actually ends up hurting men more than just talking about things out in the open. Nowadays, you can be more open about your feelings and the things that are affecting you."
– Milo H
"I think being a man in 2017 means whatever an individual decides it should, but sometimes society tells us otherwise. I’m a 22-year-old black boy from Africa living in Ireland, and on paper that might paint a certain picture of the type of man I am to some people.
"Some people might take one look at me and see me as a threat, but what they don’t know is that I love playing football, enjoy painting my nails, and I practice celibacy. For me, being a man means choosing how I navigate between who I am and people’s perceptions of who I am."
– Semilore O
"The concept of 'being a man' has changed a lot as I've grown up. I used to think it was fitting in and conforming to the traditions of masculinity – liking sport, having a girlfriend, being stoic, and not showing my emotions. But that was never who I was.
"Since I had the courage to come out as gay a few years ago, being a man means something completely different to me now. For me, being a man is being true to yourself and not conforming to the ideals of masculinity if they don't line up with who you are. I have far more respect for a man who wants to wear a dress and has the courage to do so than a beer-swilling misogynist who only acts that way because he thinks it's 'manly'."
– Matt C