Participant 1: I couldn’t wait to grow a beard. I felt like that was a true marker of what it meant, in part probably because my dad had a beard, and aren’t we all just trying to be our dads?
[Caption: Men Get Real About Masculinity]
Participant 2: Growing up, you always, like, question your masculinity.
Participant 3: I’ve definitely questioned my gender before.
Participant 4: I’ve always felt like a man, but not sure I’ve always been like a “manly man.”
Participant 1: I have been made to feel less than a man for a good chunk of my life.
Participant 5: I started really questioning whether I was or not.
Participant 4: I tried fantasy football. I’m bad at it. I hate it. But I felt like if I didn’t participate in my school’s fantasy football group, that I wasn’t a dude.
Participant 3: I had this pink salmon lunchbox that I really liked. I was made fun of it. Both boys and girls told me that I shouldn’t have that, and so that was the last time I ever used that lunchbox.
Participant 4: My girlfriend’s dad said I wasn’t “a real man.” When he said that, he was referring to the fact that he didn’t think I could be “the man of the house” if I were to marry his daughter.
Participant 5: You know, it’s those microaggressions and macroaggressions that constantly wear at you, that start making you question your right to be called a man.
Participant 1: Different points of my life, I’ve been self-conscious of aspects of myself physically because I felt like it was an indication that I wasn’t man enough.
Participant 2: Growing up a skinny kid, like, definitely felt a little weaker.
Participant 1: As a short guy, everyone has remarked at how small I am.
Participant 4: I’m kind of skinny and lanky and awkward. If I could change a part of my body, I’d definitely add some muscle mass.
Participant 1: Because muscles make a man. A muscular man with a six-pack is an ideal.
Participant 5: My physical form, I’ve worked really hard for it to look this way.
Participant 2: Getting stronger is amazing. The muscles starting to form. The look. The confidence.
Participant 5: A real man, I guess, is anyone that identifies as a man that is not imaginary.
Participant 1: If you take away all these societal expectations…
Participant 3: Protects women…
Participant 1: Take up a lot of space…
Participant 3: Needs to be tough…
Participant 1: Can’t cry…
Participant 3: Cannot be gay… you really don’t have anything else besides just someone that identifies as a guy.
Participant 1: Because when we think too polemically about what makes a man or what makes a woman, we erase all of the, like, giant space of what makes a person.