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Women, for the most part, can be loved unconditionally, as can children and pets.
However, there is a long-standing belief that still holds true for most societies—men have to earn the right to unconditional love by meeting certain requirements.
Men must be the archetypal male who earns his love by bringing home the supper, protecting the household, providing for his family, and of course, always being the chivalrous gentleman who does not complain.
I blame the movie industry for some of this portrayal.
They have this storyline in every movie. The unfaltering hero, the He-man, who comes from nothing, but becomes everything to win the girl’s heart.
On this journey it shows how they battle adversity and how sometimes they change themselves irrespective of their past to become the type of man the particular woman (or princess, girl) sees as a real man.
This is wholly unfair as not all men need or want to become this generic stereotype.
We, as men, all differ as do women. I empathize that marketers unfairly position women to represent certain moulds also. However, I’m only speaking from experience about the male dynamic for this instance.
I manage in a male dominant workplace, and from this vantage point, I can see and appreciate the diversity even in my employees. In most simplified terms, they range from confident extroverts to shy introverts. They all have their own personal gifts and, of course, weaknesses.
Few, if any, are Mr. Big from “Sex and the City” or Prince Charming. They all have unique qualities, yet I hear daily how partners ridicule them for not providing enough, doing enough at home, nor being romantic.
Of course, I only hear one perspective and take everything with a pinch of salt. There are more deep-rooted beliefs at play, though. The male archetype dominated history for millennia, from the pharaohs of Egypt to conquerors and dictators. Most ingrained in us are the religious figureheads. Men have been comparing themselves to these statuesque role models for ages.
Every man dreamt of being able to become a fairytale hero. I did as a child and still have daydreams of fulfilling this in some capacity, be it work or otherwise. Only to realize I don’t need to fulfill some prophecy of the male stereotype to be happy within.
These archetypes are artificially created to represent a false definition of either sex. Humans, for whatever reason, seem to want everything to fit into neat little boxes, be it gender, religion, race, country, or clothing size.
Even two people looking at the same picture see entirely different images because we have different beliefs, experiences, and emotional capacities. We can interpret the external stimulus (anything exterior to our own being) in a better way if we follow the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
We shouldn’t let Walt Disney, The Bible, or “Sex in the City” cloud our judgment of what a man should represent. We need to be cognizant that not all men subsist of the world’s counterfeit representation of man.