How To Be A Strong, Independent Man

How To Be A Strong, Independent Man

Women, you oppress yourself through your own language.
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How strange does that sound? A strong, independent man.

How normal does this sound? A strong, independent woman.

You will never meet a man, hear of his career and successes, learn he is single and think, “Damn! What a strong man who is providing for himself. And he’s doing it all alone, he’s so independent. What an inspiration! You do you, boo!”

But if this situation is reversed to a woman, those thoughts are very easy to come into our minds.

The answer for this “phenomenon” is simple, in the rigid categories that make up our society, women are seen as lesser than men. Women aren’t seen as independent as often as men are. Men are expected to be independent and strong. This is not groundbreaking news, everybody knows this fact of life. This limits men as much as it limits women.

Masculinity is an idea created by our society, for men to be seen as the providers, the strong ones, the brave ones, the rough and tough ones. For femininity, women must be nurturing and take care of the home and they must, most importantly, find a man to marry who will provide her with a great abundance of disgusting, snotty children who she must slave over and it’s her husband’s duty to bring home all of the bacon.

I like to think we live in a progressive country where most of this is changing or being worked on.

Because these definitions of “masculine” and “feminine” and the roles of men versus women in life are so intense and socialized throughout our lives, many times the “oppression” of women or the undervaluing of women isn’t even noticed.

We unconsciously support these ideas of masculinity and femininity. No woman wants to be forced to live a cookie cutter life, but our own language limits us and degrades ourselves.

“Just” and “sorry” are words which women use too often and they limit us.

I personally discovered this trait in myself first before realizing it was a widespread issue.

Sometimes people get upset, with themselves or others, or in my case, with a significant other. There were serious issues and when attempting to confront them and be open with my own personal feelings, the word “just” would be the first thing to come out of my mouth. It was almost like I needed and wanted to downplay my own legitimate emotions to be sensitive to my significant other.

After realizing this, I found through various researchers and articles that this isn’t an issue with myself. It’s something women have been taught.

By saying, “It’s just that, you do this and it makes me feel this way,” my emotions aren’t being received in full as they should be. Following the “just,” “sorry” is often in the same sentence.

I know I’m not the only woman to do this either. Too many women are downplaying their emotions and their human rights to feel by using these two little words far too often. It begins with small things like somebody bumping into you and you apologizing instead, then it grows to apologizing for feeling a completely natural way.

Take a hold of your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings, your wants and continue with them boldy. In a way any man can.

These two words socialize those around us by showing them that women must feel completely irrationally if they must apologize for it often. It shows women must be in the way or a burden if they have to apologize for something that is not their fault.

Things like our language are things we don’t often question. Seeing a woman as independent is great, but it makes you think twice why we can’t describe men as so. Apologizing is polite, but it makes you question why women must be so much more polite.

It’s the smallest, easiest change. Apologize less. Be yourself, completely unapologetically. You’ll be surprised how empowered you feel.

Cover Image Credit: Tracy Moore

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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First-Generation Kids of Brown Parents Are Bridging the Gap Between 'Traditional' and 'Modern'

Speaking as a first-generation child of Indian parents, it's going to be a rough and rocky road for us all.

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I didn't realize or think about what it would be like being the first generation in my entire lineage to live in a country other than India. It just never occurred to me that this was a bigger deal than I thought it was. Yes, I would be living on the opposite side of the world than most my family members, such as my grandparents. But growing up in this country with parents that grew up in India, this is more than just a geographical distance between my family members and I.

My parents left India and came to the United States to ensure that their children (my brother and I) would have more opportunities and live a better life. That kind of transition is definitely not easy because they had to abandon their home, their language, their family, and their country to come to a completely foreign land. It required a lot of struggle, sacrifices and a hell of a lot of courage to do this. And I am forever grateful.

But in a way, this is going to be a way more difficult path for my brother and me, along with any other first-generation children of Indian parents. Not in the sense that we will have to uproot our lives to move across the world, but we will have to face a lot of societal and traditional issues. Right now, it seems as if we don't necessarily belong anywhere. We are different from the other people our age whose families immigrated to the U.S. hundreds of years ago. But we are also different from our parents because they cannot relate to us and we cannot relate to them.

While our parents grew up in a land where things are done a certain way and traditional rules must be followed, it is a little different for us. Growing up in a "melting pot" country where there is diversity of race, religion, and thoughts and ideas, we are constantly exposed to new things.

We were always given the freedom to think and say what we believed and wanted. We have a lot more room for expression than our parents or grandparents ever did. But even though our parents came to this country and were exposed to these thoughts, they stuck with the beliefs they always grew up with because it is a part of their identity. For us, it's a little different because we grew up and surrounded ourselves with all kinds of new people and thoughts.

As amazing and expressive it feels to have this freedom, it also makes it more difficult for first-generation kids because we are going to have to stand up to tradition and introduce these new ideas to not only our parents to all of society. These ideas include dating and love marriages, the extent of religious beliefs and our own faith in God, how to raise kids, distribution of responsibilities in a family where both the husband and wife work, etc.

Our families have done things a certain way for generations and generations, and for the first time, this is going to be disrupted. There is going to be a change in tradition, a revolution. And it's going to be us first-generation children of Indian families that are going to have to bridge the gap between "traditional" and "modern." It's going to be a difficult road, but in the end, it will be worth it because our future kids will have a more open-minded family and society to be a part of.

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