Letters: Your Take On Men In America

Melissa Block and Audie Cornish read listener responses to the All Things Considered series about what it means to be a man in America today.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Time now for your comments on our series exploring the lives of boys and men. How they dress...

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MOZIAH BRIDGES: I want to bring the bow tie back, and I want to make it look better than what it used to be.

CORNISH: What they eat...

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DOMINIC THOMPSON: I am a triathlete, and I'm a vegan, and I'm proud of it.

CORNISH: Who their role models are...

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DEREK WILLIAMS: My mom was this incredible woman who provided for us - make sure we ate - make sure we always had a roof over our head and clothes on her back.

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CORNISH: Essentially...

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JOE EHRMANN: What does it mean to be a man?

CORNISH: Last month former NFL player Joe Ehrmann told us how his previous definition of manhood changed when his younger brother was diagnosed with cancer.

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EHRMANN: I recognized that everything I had invested my life in - I recognized, at that moment, they offered no hope or help to my 18-year-old brother lying on his deathbed. I was a socialized male that had separated my heart from my head, trying to live life from the neck up.

CORNISH: So what does it mean to be a man? Many of you wrote in to tell us you've been asking yourself the same thing.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Dave Pulliam of Vancouver, Washington, says he's nearly 40 years old and still doesn't have a good answer. He writes this. (Reading) I like to talk baby-talk to my son and hold him, kiss his little feet and hands and cheeks and sometimes I watch him sleep at night and start crying because he's so beautiful and so precious to me, yet I keep these things hidden because I am a man or at least trying to be.

CORNISH: Jenny Osgood of San Francisco says this. (Reading) The narrow gender role we have for men these days seems more like a prison to me. You must be X, Y and Z to be a man. I see it in my own family. She goes on. (Reading) I think we need a broader definition of what it means to be a man, or maybe we need to just toss the be a man thing and all just act like grown-ups.

BLOCK: And Paul Kemp of Chandler Arizona has this to say. (Reading) I'm a single dad - older and divorced, trying to raise my two teenage sons, and balancing out the way I was raised in a small town in the 1960s with the reality and political correctness of modern-day America. Listening to all the different stories makes me realize that a lot of us are going through the same things, not realizing that others are, too.

CORNISH: Finally, a clarification - in our piece yesterday about men and cars, we reported on how hard it is to get kids into car repair these days. We said you can't change spark plugs because there aren't any. And we heard from a mechanic who said most cars don't have dipsticks.

BLOCK: Well, this was a shock to many of you because that's not the case for a lot of cars on the roads today. It is true, though, that many new cars - the ones referenced by the mechanic - lack dip sticks and spark plugs.

CORNISH: Thanks for your comments. We look forward to sharing more of them as our series on men continues.

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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