O P I N I O N – MEN’S DAY SPECIAL
“To promote positive role models” is the first objective stated on the International Men’s Day website¹, with a short statement highlighting who this objective targets. While “promoting positive role models” is an admirable and pragmatic objective, it can be quite complex to accomplish to a practical effect, especially since the very term “role model” is quite subjective, wholly varying from person to person. Therefore, it is essential to explain why the promotion of positive role models for men is important by exploring what attributes a positive role model for men may have — before the fulfillment of the objective of promoting positive role models for men can even be started.
Now, a role model is typically someone who a person respects and looks up to and tries to emulate in behaviour and action. Anyone can be a role model, from the hardworking uncle next door to a close relative. Basically, any individual who has earned respect for themselves by doing something admirable can be someone’s role model, as stated on the International Men’s Day website, with parameters of how these role models are chosen being different from person to person based on their own sense of what they admire. But, despite the base subjectivity of the term “role model”, when it is used for a specific assembly, men in this case, there should be set variables in terms of what constitutes a proper role model that inspires positivity and growth.
It can be assumed that a positive role model in general should act with and have qualities that are traditionally associated with a role model, such as kindness, empathy, modesty etc. However, the principal attributes of a role model in the case of men change due to the subjectivity of what different people consider admirable for a man. For example, in the culture of some countries, men are romanticised as strong and quiet, grimly accepting and accomplishing their responsibilities. This example is a monument of what the standard for men was. However, examples like that one is also a revelation of how unrealistic romanticisation can be. This kind of standard for men has changed and become an enduring stereotype of masculinity, even though it is an mentally, spiritually, and emotionally unsound state to be in. And the propagation of this kind of detrimental stereotype regarding men has created a culture of toxic masculinity, which is further spread when it is adopted and unironically present in the media.
As general society developed and advanced in terms of gender based cultures, logical inspection of the fundamental mindset behind this kind of toxic culture and stereotypes regarding men revealed the kind of attributes that people who partake in this culture have, which are exactly the attributes a positive role model for men shouldn’t have. With the deconstruction of previous ideals and stereotypes regarding men, society has been engaging towards a more sensitive and nurturing environment for men. And aiding in the development of a wholesome and pressure-free environment for all men is very much what positive role models for men would achieve.
Even with the subjectivity of what qualities a role model has to have, the universal trait for every role model is being inspiring. A role model inspires others to do better and be better. And to this purpose, accounts of everyday male people should serve as examples for positive role models for men. Because role models have a much bigger impact in a person’s life when they are closer to the person², especially in the case of men. It allows the person to relate to the role model and become inspired through empathy and an emotional connection. Besides, when the role model is closer to the person, it allows the person to distinguish the role model as another person, who might have disagreeable aspects to him. This opens both up to greater levels of sympathy and creates a healthy process of adopting the admirable attributes of the role model and understanding but rejecting their disagreeable attributes.
However, even with a strong foundation, the concept of circumscribing positive role models for men is still developing, with general society still developing organically towards a wholesome and supportive environment for men. There is still a culture of toxic masculinity in society that needs to be addressed, accepted as a significant obstacle and ultimately overcome for a emotionally, mentally, and spiritually supportive mindset towards men to settle in. And to this purpose, as mentioned in the International Men’s Day website, positive role models for men need to be promoted.
The writer is a part of TDA Editorial Team.