I feel sorry for a lot of males in our society, not because the patriarchy is coming down (and it is, although it will take another generation), but because many of our husbands, fathers and sons will find it challenging to alter their behavior and adapt to a non-traditional way of relating to women. Women, on the other hand, have been adapting for a long time, and we’re way ahead of you men. But we’re hoping you catch up with us.

Despite men’s best efforts to hold women to their rigid standard of acceptable female behavior, women have, over the last century, broken away and expanded the definition of what a woman can be. We had to if we were going to do the best job we could for our families. The result is there is almost nowhere you don’t see women in significant numbers, nowhere that women’s influence isn’t felt (with the exception of top government and corporate positions). We don’t stay home anymore. We can’t. And we don’t all look like your paragons of ideal womanhood, June Cleaver and Margaret Anderson. We accept that women come in variety packs.

Many men, however, cling to a definition of “real man” that prescribes few, if any displays of emotion, emphasizes the desirability of suffering in silence, carrying a weapon and driving a big truck, and mandates a willingness to sacrifice oneself–acting brave when afraid and in charge even when overwhelmed. These men exult in a physicality the world no longer requires. The frontiers have mostly been conquered.

These same men may have an inordinate fear of being “pussified,” as though they’re not in charge of who they become. They will question the sexuality of a male nurse, or god forbid, a man who gets one of those drinks with an umbrella in it. They have a really rigid admissions policy for their club. Unfortunately, they have painted themselves into a corner by creating and embracing this narrow definition of masculinity; they are anxious at the idea of stepping outside the lines, even a little.

They know how to behave in a world where “real men” dominate, but are less sure about whether there is an advantage in an expanded number of acceptable male behaviors. Their reluctance to change holds us all back because these men are raising sons to be just like them. Unfortunately, women cannot tell men how to be more flexible and less fearful about this subject. They have to want it.

Men need to know that not all women hold men to this unattainable—and often insufferable—stereotype of masculinity. Many of us would be happy with someone who is willing to express additional aspects of themselves, not just the ones his buddies approve of. So come on guys, loosen up a little; you might enjoy letting go of some of that restrictive masculinity. I mean, if women can do it………..