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45 honest, heartbreaking, and heartwarming responses to 'Be a man'

They start at age 5 and go all the way up to 50. And every one has a different idea of what "Be a man" means.

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "Be a man"?

When I hear it, the feminist in me can't think of it as anything other than a really limiting way to think about gender — and, because it's usually used to shoot down someone acting in a way that's perceived as "feminine," it strikes me as kind of insulting. But as this video from Cut Video illustrates, not everyone sees it that way.

Here are 45 brutally honest responses.

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The concept of "manliness" is both complex and flawed. That's why every response to "What does 'Be a man' mean?" is so vastly different.

I expected to hear: "Be tough," "Stop acting like a baby," and "Don't show emotion." Instead, this video showcases a deeply personal and honest collection of introspective answers that range from proud, disappointed, insecure, angry, optimistic, and, yes, even feminist. Here are a few of them:


Some found it "kinda sexist."

All images by Cut Video.

"I find it kinda sexist. Someone says 'Be a man,' well, there are strong women as well."
— Kyle, age 15

"Stupid. It's almost a sexist phrase too, like, if you're not being 'a man' it's kinda saying you're being a woman in a way too?"
— Cole, age 17

"Sexist. It's a very accepted form of sexism. 'To be a man' implies that you need to be something specific."
— Sillias, age 42

For others, being a man is about courage.


"Unafraid."
— Solomon, age 8

"Take responsibility."
— John Jr., age 18


"Someone who can be a hero to someone."
— Aaron, age 24

Many saw "Be a man" as a call to action.

"Focused. 'Cause to be a man you need to be focused and strong and have a good understanding of the world around you so you can be a better person."
— Sam, age 20


"To stand up for what you believe in."
— Dan, age 34

"Trust your instincts. Be strong. Don't let people push you around. And be kind to women."
—Thomas, age 50

The lessons: Gender is complicated, and so are the ways that we talk about it. Being a man doesn't mean one thing. It's up to every individual to define it for themselves.

Did watching this video expose any of your own prejudices about manhood? It did for me! And that's not easy to admit. Without realizing it, I projected my own ideas of how the men would respond before I even hit play. As we grow in our understanding of gender and identity, we should think just as deeply about how the phrases we use and hear every day might mean different things to different people. It's a lesson I'm going to remember.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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