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gender roles

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There is nothing unmanly about taking a bubble bath.

As society rethinks and reshapes the use of gender roles, both sexes (and everywhere in-between) are finding more opportunities to explore previously repressed aspects of themselves. It often feels like the Wild West of gender identity—an exciting new time to break through tired paradigms in search for something that is a better fit. We can see this on both a macro and micro scale, from something as widespread as more countries legalizing same sex marriage to something as simple as a man rocking a pencil skirt and heels. Each are radical in their own way.

A Reddit user asked men to name some “unmanly” things they did that they weren’t ashamed of. Their answers, though fun to read, also have an interesting through line, one of embracing sensitivity. Or, rather, their femininity. From self-care, to arts and crafts, to crying during Disney movies, each of these activities challenges the long accepted—and often problematic—belief of what makes a man a "man."

Psychology Today contributor Tyger Latham, Psy.D. writes that “Most of us immediately identify with the adage that to be a man often means: being tough, staying in control, never crying, working through physical pain, providing for your family, and never backing down from a fight. While such roles provide men with an operational model in which to exist, they can also be extremely restrictive.” He even described a condition known as alexithymia, quite literally meaning “without words for emotions,” that many male clients encounter while trying to express what’s happening on the inside.

But what if the pursuit of happiness includes the pursuit of wholeness? Some would argue that the latter is more important altogether. Men—and women, for that matter—should be able to go fishing, knit while they wait on the pond, come home and throw on an exfoliating face mask while watching a rom-com. So yes, while these answers do serve as a lighthearted digital romp through the internet, they are also symbols of small, yet significant victories.

Without further ado, here are 18 “unmanly” things that are good for the soul, no matter the gender:

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