Contemporary hip-hop is telling men that it is okay to feel vulnerable. It is telling men that it is okay to talk about feeling vulnerable. It is telling men that it is okay to be human. Hip-hop's challenge of masculinity is profoundly liberating, particularly for those feeling constricted or poisoned by toxic masculinity.
Pro-actively challenging limiting gender stereotypes through parenting and education from pre-school will help boys survive the limiting norms of masculinity that they're under immense pressure to conform to. Norms that stifle their expression, exploration and stamp out their rich and varied humanity.
For the first time, I noticed my father's vulnerability: we would walk down the street and he'd budge up really close to me like a child afraid of his surroundings. We'd go to the pub and I'd order for him because he wasn't quite sure how to navigate his way around a hipster East London brewery. It felt great. The balance of power had shifted slightly and I wasn't so afraid of him anymore.
Less than 80 years ago pink was a 'man's' colour. It was considered masculine as it was a more decided and strong colour. Pink was only associated with girls in the 1940's. That means we've had electric shavers longer than we've had the belief 'pink is for girls'. And, it's not only colours, it's materials too...
On the surface, my father was someone who had everything, yet he still chose to end his life. If his suicide has taught me anything, it's the importance to not hesitate in getting things out in the open, to share challenges and struggles with those you trust and to not be afraid of expressing who you truly are. I still continue to work on these skills myself and I deeply recognise them to be the remedy for the generations of men who choose to give up on their lives each day.
Lewis Hancox is a comedy writer, actor and YouTuber. Born female, Lewis transitioned as a teenager. As part of The Huffington Post UK's Building Modern Men series, Lewis vlogs on his journey, what 'being a man' means to him and why, in his words, "I've not gone from being a woman to man. I've just always been me."
I'm a man in a fairly patriarchal culture, in a stream of the Christian church that has often overtly pushed the idea of 'strong' masculinity; where male Christians are routinely referred to as 'warriors' and the 'head of the family'; where a mega-church pastor once spoke of not wanting to worship a Jesus that he could beat up.
A redefinition is in order. It is time we finally addressed these issues, looked after the mental health of future generations of young men and ditched these limiting, archaic stereotypes. Only then can we implement positive societal change and proactively reduce rates of bullying and crime, as we now know these to be interlinked.