What Does It Mean to Be a Man in Today’s Society

What does “being a man” means, especially in today’s society?

Here are some insights worth looking into:

G. Brian Benson


Award-Winning & #1 Best-Selling Author, Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar | Actor | TEDx Speaker | Radio Personality | Ironman Triathlete

To be a man in today’s society means being open with oneself

A lot of men were taught at an early age to “suck it up,” that crying is unacceptable and expressing how one felt could be viewed as weak or whining. Men weren’t given a platform to share how they felt but instead were quickly told to move past it and “stay strong.”

This led to a lot of men only knowing how to act tough or hide their feelings in silence. Not a healthy or enjoyable away to go through life. Hiding feelings and not being able to express oneself is a recipe for future health issues, poor communication in relationships, and depression.

The good news is men don’t have to be held hostage anymore to the old stereotypes that they were taught via parents, society, marketing campaigns and in television and the movies.

I feel like things are changing and men are now being given the opportunity to express themselves and being made to feel that it is safe to share their thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires.

We are moving into a time where authenticity and vulnerability are finally being celebrated and recognized as a critical part of being a “whole” person.

That strength is now being seen and recognized when one is able to share truthfully and openly one’s thoughts, fears, feelings, and desires.

To be a man in today’s society also means that men can now operate from a much more complete and authentic version of themselves.

In most places, they are finally being given permission to show their vulnerability, softer sides, and creative sides without the past experience/fear of being put down, mocked or told that they were “weak.”

What does this all mean? Hopefully a lot of things.

  • Healthier children who are able to witness what strength and expression really means. Healthier, more sustainable relationships due to increased communication and honest sharing.
  • Less stress, less depression and better long-term health due to “avoidance and holding in feelings and expressions.”
  • More men being given permission to share their “softer and more creative” sides.

Related: Best Self Help Books for Men 

Ron Humes

Ron Humes

VP of Operations for Southeast Region, Post Modern Marketing

In days past, we learned by necessity!

I was raised in a low-income rural area by a single mother in a family of five children; three sisters and one brother. I learned early to work for things I wanted and to fix and maintain everything I owned.

We played a variety of sports with all age ranges in our neighborhood park and it was always “no blood, no foul” because we did not have referees or organized programs outside of school.

In recent times, I have been a coach or trainer in baseball, basketball, volleyball, track, archery, and football. I also served as a booster club officer for several sports. I am a full-time Mr. Fix-it for my family, friends, and colleagues. From vehicles to houses, computers, phones, about anything mechanical or electronic, computer programs, contracts, you name it.

When they say, “just call the guy” – I’m that guy. I have always taken pride in my ability to resolve issues and conflict. In our day, we did not have thousands of YouTube videos and online resources to show us how to do everything; we just had to figure it out.

Today, I am amazed at how many boys and men I meet that cannot troubleshoot or fix anything. I am also shocked at the fact that they are not embarrassed by their lack of ability and knowledge.

I have taught both my son and my daughter to be resourceful troubleshooters, but I see a lack of mentors in our society willing and able to pass on the proper guidance and knowledge to the coming generations. As a previously certified fitness trainer, I have also taught my children about fitness and they are now avid exercise enthusiasts.

In our current society, there are those who would call a father sexist for teaching his son about troubleshooting, maintenance and repairs, fishing and hunting, firearm mastery, exercise, self-defense, and protecting those weaker than ourselves. These are the same things that I have taught my daughter with much success.

We should not just talk the talk; we must walk the walk.

To be a man in today’s society means knowing the value of real human communication

Emails, text messages, chat apps, and social media platforms have removed much of our face to face conversations and communication. My friends who work as teachers and recruiters tell me that in-person communication skills and body language are all but gone.

The boys and men today spend much of their time on video games, dating apps, and social media. Even our interaction with other boys and men has been tempered.

We love our children so we insist that everyone must get a trophy, and everyone must be a winner. Then, we toss our pampered and sensitive young men into society like releasing a domesticated pet into the wild.

Our young men are finding difficulties in communicating and coping in their environments. They are trapped somewhere between their instincts and their upbringing.

To be a man in today’s society means being authentic to oneself

I do believe that it is possible to be a strong, protective, resourceful, competitive, chivalrous, sensitive, and sympathetic man without completely losing gender qualities and recognition.

My wife and I have raised a son and a daughter with many of the same practices and watched them identify and gravitate towards traits that were different from one another.

Our son is strong but gentle, tough but sympathetic, kind but assertive, fair but competitive, young but resourceful, and none of it happened by accident.

James Gray Robinson, Esq.

James Gray Robinson

Trial Attorney | Business Consultant | Relationship Expert | Author | Speaker

There is a lot of confusion these days about what it means to be a man

The blurring of gender lines has made traditional notions of masculinity obsolete. It is not just human beings with a penis that aspire to the traits of sexuality, conquest, wealth, success and authority. A century ago a man provided, a woman nurtured. Not so much anymore.

It is difficult to assign or describe attributes (or criticisms) solely to males. Males should not be defined by their behavior any more than females. Anything you can say about the qualities of a man could be applied to a woman and vice-versa.

Perhaps it all comes down to the physical aspects of biology. Boiled down to their bare essentials, a male produces sperm and females produce eggs and gives birth.

The psychological implications of those truths can be debated, and it is clear that with transgenderism, homosexual families, gender equality and role blending there are no definable lines between genders anymore. Nor should there be.

The vestiges of gender are still painfully evident in the business world, but even these are morphing.

Being a man is no different than being a woman, just be the best version of yourself you can be.

Tanner Ellis

Tanner Ellis

Investor, Equal Realty, LLC

To be a man in today’s society means being open

Being open to learning. Being open to being wrong. Being open to others. A man must be able to embrace all others. Today’s society is as diverse as society has ever been. A man must be able to embrace diversity.

Being a man in today’s society means being accountable

A sign of a man is not the ability to take credit when things go right, but to take ownership when things go wrong. A man does not back down from accountability.

As men, all we have is our word

A man must live up to his word, and the only way to do so is to match actions with his message. A man must always do what he says he is going to do.

A man must be a leader and a protector

A man must always be willing to lend a helping hand. A man must do the things he knows are right, even if he does not want to.

A man must be gentle and understanding

There is not an encompassing definition of a man; it is a constantly evolving and dynamic form, just like a man should be.

Jason van Dyk

Jason van Dyk

Entrepreneur, God’s Fingerprints

To be a man in today’s society means being faithful in all his life relationships

When I think about what it means to be a man in today’s society — I think about the different roles a man may have in life. Husband, Father, Grandpa, Son, Brother, Friend.

A good man seeks to protect others. He is faithful to those who trust him. He encourages those who are weak. Being a man is about stepping up to the responsibilities of these roles. For it is through these key relationships that our identity as a man is formed.

Joseph A. Federico

Joseph Federico

Author | Business Owner

To be a man in today’s society means being able to ask for assistance and not feeling like a failure if he does so

Sure, you can be big and strong, have a lot of muscles and a coiffed beard, but if you don’t have a strong support system, you’re out of luck.

To be a man in today’s society means not streamlining with societal norms and being able to think for yourself

It’s OK to venture off on your own, make your own unique mark on the world and create a legacy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How has the definition of a man evolved over time?

The definition of a man has evolved significantly over time, and continues to do so in response to societal changes and shifting attitudes toward gender and identity. Here are some key ways in which the definition of a man has changed:

Gender roles: The traditional gender roles of men as breadwinners and protectors and women as caretakers and homemakers have been challenged and redefined.

Emotional expression: There is a growing recognition of the importance of emotional intelligence and expression and a growing acceptance of men who are more open and expressive with their emotions.

Sexual orientation: Gay and bisexual men are more accepted in today’s society. So is a growing recognition of the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities.

Physical appearance: Diverse body types are now more recognized, and the importance of health and self-care over strict adherence to a particular physical ideal.

Fatherhood: The role of fatherhood has undergone significant changes, with a greater emphasis on involved and nurturing fatherhood.

Career and work-life balance: The definition of a successful man has broadened to include non-career pursuits such as family, community, and personal growth.

Mental health: Mental health is now recognized as important, and men are encouraged to take care of their mental well-being.

Masculinity: The definition of masculinity is being challenged and broadened to embrace a wide range of masculine identities and expressions.

How can men break away from traditional gender roles and stereotypes?

Breaking away from traditional gender roles and stereotypes is a process that can take time and effort. But it can be done, especially in today’s more-accepting society. 
Here are some tips that can help:

Reflect on your beliefs and attitudes: Start by examining your own beliefs and attitudes about gender and what it means to be a man. Consider where these beliefs come from and if they align with your personal values and goals.

Challenge societal expectations: Society often imposes certain expectations on men, such as being tough, unemotional, and aggressive. Challenge these expectations and embrace a more nuanced understanding of masculinity.

Embrace vulnerability: Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and express emotions can help you break away from traditional gender roles and become a more well-rounded person.

Seek out diverse perspectives: Engage with people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives on gender. This can help you broaden your understanding and challenge your own ideas.

Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally is important for breaking away from traditional gender roles. Engage in activities that help you relax and recharge, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.

Is it okay for men to be nurturing and care for others?

Yes, of course! There’s nothing inherently gendered about being nurturing and caring for others. In fact, research has shown that people with more nurturing qualities, regardless of their gender, tend to have stronger relationships, better mental health, and a greater sense of purpose in life.

Here are a few reasons why it’s okay for men to be nurturing:

It’s a sign of emotional intelligence: Being able to understand, empathize, and support others is a key aspect of emotional intelligence, which is a valuable trait in any gender.

It leads to stronger relationships: When you are nurturing and care for others, you build stronger and more meaningful relationships with those around you.

It’s healthy for your own well-being: Caring for others can positively impact your mental and physical health by reducing stress and promoting feelings of happiness and fulfillment.

It sets a good example for others: When men show that it’s okay to be nurturing and care for others, it helps break down gender stereotypes and sets a positive example for future generations.

It breaks gender stereotypes: By embracing nurturing qualities, men can challenge traditional gender roles and expectations and help to create a more equal and just society.

How can men develop a positive and healthy sense of masculinity?

Developing a positive and healthy sense of masculinity can be a lifelong journey, but here are some steps that can help:

Embrace emotions: It’s okay for men to experience and express a full range of emotions, including sadness, fear, and vulnerability. Suppressing emotions can lead to negative coping mechanisms and harm mental health.

Challenge toxic masculinity: Be aware of traditional societal expectations and norms associated with masculinity, such as being unemotional or aggressive. Challenge these harmful beliefs and make an effort to counteract them.

Engage in introspection: Reflect on past experiences and attitudes, and work to unlearn harmful biases and beliefs. Seek to understand how societal expectations have shaped your beliefs about masculinity.

Be an ally: Stand up against misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Be an ally to those who are marginalized and support efforts to create a more equal society.

Is it possible for a man to be both strong and sensitive?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, it’s a common misconception that being strong and sensitive are mutually exclusive traits. A man can definitely possess both qualities, and it’s actually a great combination to have. 

Strength refers to physical and mental fortitude, the ability to handle difficult situations, and the courage to stand up for what’s right. Sensitivity, on the other hand, refers to the capacity for empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and the capability to be in tune with one’s emotions.

Having both strength and sensitivity can make a man more well-rounded and balanced, allowing them to navigate life’s challenges with grace and compassion. It also helps in building stronger relationships, as sensitivity can foster deeper connections with others and make a person a better communicator.

How can men challenge toxic masculinity and promote positive masculinity?

Toxic masculinity refers to harmful and limiting cultural norms and expectations that are placed on men, such as the belief that they must be emotionless, aggressive, and dominant. It can have negative effects on men’s mental and physical health, as well as contribute to social problems like violence and discrimination.

Challenging toxic masculinity and promoting positive masculinity are important steps toward creating a more equal and just society. Here are some ways that men can help achieve this:

Educate themselves: Men can start by educating themselves about toxic masculinity and its negative effects. Reading books, articles, and watching documentaries can be a great starting point.

Speak out against toxic behavior: When men witness toxic behavior, such as bullying, misogyny, or homophobia, men must speak out and challenge it. By doing so, they can help create a safer and more inclusive environment for everyone.

Embrace emotional intelligence: Men can work on developing their emotional intelligence by being more self-aware, practicing active listening, and learning to manage their emotions.

Encourage positive male role models: Men can look for positive male role models and seek to emulate their positive traits. By doing so, they can help shape the next generation of men and promote positive masculinity.

Support gender equality: This can include volunteering for organizations that support women’s rights, speaking out against gender-based violence, and promoting equal pay for equal work.

Challenge gender stereotypes: By breaking free from these constraints, men can feel more free to express their full range of emotions and be their authentic selves.

Promote body positivity: The pressure to conform to a certain body type can be a toxic aspect of masculinity. Men should work to promote body positivity by rejecting unrealistic beauty standards and embracing a healthy and positive body image.

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