Father’s Day is coming up! Keeping in the spirit of it all, The Representation Project released a video celebrating extraordinary fathers that embody positive masculinity as part of their #BeAModelMan campaign. The Representation Project, Futures Without Violence, and Obscura Digital partnered up to launch the #BeAModelMan movement to raise awareness about the crucial role that men must play in ending toxic masculinity and violence against women.
At the beginning of the documentary The Mask You Live In, NFL defensive lineman Joe Ehrmann—who had a career of tackling men in the most stereotypically male dominated sport there is: football—opened up emotionally to share a scarring first memory with his father. He recalled that when his father saw him crying for the first time, he told him to stop crying and “be a man.” “That’s one of the most destructive phrases in this culture,” Ehrmann told the filmmakers.
He was—and is—right. And that’s why this video matters so much.
Whether we’re examining the disgusting amount of school shootings over the past couple years to the current sexual assault case at Stanford that’s part of a nationwide epidemic, it’s evident how toxic masculinity has shaped our culture. The seemingly innocuous, offhand phrase “be a man” preserves ideas of violence, emotional detachment and dominance that have deep and dangerous implications for American society.
The paradigm of what it means to “be a man” in America is in need of a revision. Rather than upholding the expectation for men to be tough, physically strong and invulnerable, positive masculinity strives to define “real” men as those with inner strength, courage and respect. Fathers in particular have the opportunity to instill the ideals of a model man in their children, especially their sons, and positive male role models in this mission are vital considering the myriad of cultural influences that must be overcome.
On Sunday, lets all take a moment to thank the men that are not only remarkable fathers, but living examples of what it means to #BeAModelMan.