A powerful new video features 50 men between the ages of 5 and 50 opening up about what they think of when they hear the phrase "be a man."
The many varied responses, put together by Cut Video, open up an important dialogue about changing cultural perceptions of masculinity. Many of the men featured either had negative associations with the phrase "be a man," or thoughtfully explained why they think commanding someone to "be a man" is problematic or limiting.
"Misleading," one 21-year-old said. "I've learned that being a man doesn't mean to shut out your feelings -- it's to embrace them."
"Who defines what a man is?" another 39-year-old respondent asked. "I mean, we all have to walk our own paths. What I consider to make me a man may not be what makes you a man."
Taken as a whole, the responses provide some valuable insight about how idioms like "be a man" can reinforce stereotypes and perpetuate systems of violence, by shaping cultural expectations of behavior. When we raise boys who are constantly told to "man up" and "be a man," it shapes and informs the way they handle their relationships -- both with themselves and those around them.
Watch the full video above. Want to see more from Cut Video? Check out another word association project about the word "gay" here.