On Thursday of this week we issued The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man. There were a lot of fascinating statistics that came out of the national survey we conducted. Many breaking down old stereotypes about who the 21st Century Man is and isn’t.
But when it comes to cracking stereotypes wide open, the Oscar goes to Bruce Jenner. A famous man who publicly proclaimed he identifies his gender as female on national television Friday night.
I was transfixed by his recounting of his life. The personal journey, the struggle to live his truth and the courage it took to step out into the unknown. Cracking stereotypes, breaking out of old boxes, approaching life with an open mind and open heart: That’s what Bruce Jenner asked of all of us on Friday.
To just be open-minded, open-hearted.
In looking at our polling results about men, I was surprised at how men are evolving, changing and defining their masculinity in very different ways than the past. Today’s man is not the same guy as his father or grandfather.
I believe we are in historic times.
Families are changing, women are changing, men are too. Those in the transgender community are asking to be heard, accepted and loved for who they are.
One thing I saw from many angles this week — studying our findings, in the Jenner interview, and from The Shriver Report Snapshot panel I moderated with Jennifer Siebel Newsom (the writer, director and producer of The Mask You Live In — a film I executive produced), Tony Porter, Jackson Katz, Jerry Tello and Josh Levs — is that there is a lot of concealed pain, anger and shame in this world. It’s hidden among women, among men, among us all.
My hope is that we may find a way to all be more open-minded and open-hearted with one another.
I believe we are all in unknown territory. The “traditional family” where the woman stays home so the man can provide, is a thing of the past. Women today run companies, homes and are even running for President. And guess what? So are men.
Today’s man is cracking stereotypes, proclaiming that his strength isn’t always found in his physicality, but who he is on the inside. His values and character matter too. The men in our poll even said showing emotion isn’t a sign of weakness.
Bruce Jenner spoke about contemplating suicide. He¹s not alone in those thoughts. Seventy-nine percent of all suicides today happen in the male community.
The transgender community is also cracking stereotypes, telling our society they aren’t what we thought either. Bruce Jenner’s journey is a personal one, but there is a public teaching lesson here for all of us, regardless of gender, politics or religion.
We all want to be loved for who we are. We are all struggling.
We are all trying to find our place in a rapidly-changing society.
At A Woman’s Nation, the non-profit I founded, we talk about evolving into a more informed, caring, conscious and compassionate society. Being a nation that values the well-being of one and all. The way to do that is through one person at a time.
Bruce Jenner spoke his truth. He has asked for our compassion. Let’s find it in ourselves for ourselves, and then give it to Bruce Jenner and everyone else. It’s what we’re all asking for in our very own ways.