Greta Gerwig's recent blockbuster film Barbie was so beautiful esthetically, highly entertaining and thought provoking however; I couldn't help but leave the movie feeling a little disappointed for the miss opportunity to deliver a more powerful message to such an important audience.
I think for us to grow and thrive as a society, it is important for our next generation to appreciate and embrace the co-existence of women and men. To understand that one cannot and should not exist without the other so it is important to take our time to understand one another and support our differences.
I would have loved to have seen Barbie return to change her world to embrace all the Kens after learning the horrors from the real world (a mirror reflection of Barbie's world). I mean, isn't that what we want as a woman? To be considered and included so we can try to improve a narrarive that has too long favoured men?
Today I'm taking a chance to address a topic that's often overshadowed by the discussion around gender equality. While America Ferrera's powerful monologue highlighted the challenges women face, it's equally important to acknowledge that being a man in today's world comes with its own set of complexities.
Society has long held onto rigid ideals of masculinity, demanding that men adhere to a narrow set of expectations. From a young age, boys are often told to suppress their emotions, to "man up," and to embody traits like strength, dominance, and invulnerability. The pressure to conform to these traditional norms can be stifling, leading to a suppression of genuine feelings and an inability to express vulnerability.
The weight of responsibility placed upon men's shoulders is immense. The pressure to be the breadwinners, the protectors, and the providers can create an overwhelming sense of obligation. Men often find themselves navigating a labyrinth of societal demands, struggling to reconcile their aspirations for personal growth with the weight of familial and societal expectations.
Just as women face challenges in the realm of body image, men too encounter the unattainable standards of the "perfect" body. From magazine covers to Hollywood blockbusters, chiseled physiques and impossibly defined muscles are portrayed as the ideal. This unrealistic image can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, as men grapple with the pressure to conform to an ideal that may not align with their natural bodies.
In a world where conversations around toxic masculinity are gaining traction, it's important to address the insidious ways these norms can harm men. The expectation to be dominant and avoid showing vulnerability can lead to destructive behaviors, emotional suppression, and mental health struggles. Men who don't fit into these molds may face isolation and misunderstanding, perpetuating a cycle of emotional distress.
Moreover, the landscape of parenting and family dynamics is rapidly evolving. Men are increasingly taking on caregiving roles and sharing household responsibilities. However, the societal narrative around fatherhood is still catching up, often presenting fathers as secondary figures in parenting. Balancing work, family, and personal aspirations can feel like navigating a tightrope, with little room for deviation.
The world of dating and relationships isn't without its challenges either. Men are often expected to make the first move, to be assertive, and to bear the burden of rejection. Navigating consent and healthy boundaries can be complicated, particularly when societal expectations suggest that men should always be the initiators. So, as we contemplate the complexities of being a man, let us not forget that the path to true gender equality involves dismantling restrictive norms that harm both women and men.
Just as we champion the empowerment of women, let us also encourage an environment where men can embrace their emotions, defy stereotypes, and seek help when needed. The journey towards genuine gender equality requires that we acknowledge the struggles faced by all genders, and work collectively to create a world where everyone is free to be their authentic selves.