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Here's what the 'modern American man' really looks like

I'm the senior site editor at SheKnows.com.

Maria Shriver tells us why outdated stereotypes are so harmful to boys and men

The 21st century man is in no way who you think he is.

The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight into the Modern American Man is released in coordination with the Los Angeles premiere of Jennifer Newsom Siebel's film The Mask You Live In, which Maria Shriver executive produced. The provocative documentary explores the confining stereotypes that boys are exposed to as they become men. The following infographic includes the findings we found most interesting about this groundbreaking study:

Maria Shriver tells us why outdated stereotypes are so harmful to boys and men

I asked Maria Shriver the following questions about the new report: 

SheKnows: What do you think the study shows that the most misleading misconceptions of American men are?

Maria Shriver: The picture of the traditional "American man" has been dominated by the machismo stereotypes of the Provider, Emotional Rock, Powerbroker, Cowboy, Jock, Good Ole Boy, Macho Man, Mad Man for much of our country's history. I think what the Shriver Snapshot showed us is that most 21st century men have outgrown that mold — if they ever fit into it. 60 percent of men characterized the achievement of the American Dream as personal success with family and being a good father, husband, son or friend over financial and professional success — by a stereotype-cracking margin. He defines strength as having personal character and integrity, and only 22 percent of guys said showing emotion is a sign of weakness in today's man. This is a real departure from the Bumbling Idiot, Man Man, Woman Hater we so often see depicted in modern media.

SK: How do we work toward making the modern man feel more comfortable with his true identity in the world?

MS: Good question. Information is key to ignite an informed conversation, and to move towards a more caring, conscious, collaborative, gender-respectful society, we need to get educated. We plan to continue reporting from the frontlines on this issue — boys are hungry for information. Men are telling us — in small gatherings and in the survey — that they don't see themselves reflected in headlines or in Hollywood. Today's man is entrepreneurial, seemingly well-adjusted and ambitious. He is hungry to evolve into the man he wants to be but admits there is no guidebook to show the way. I think we need to bring this new 21st century definition of masculinity into the light. It's not enough for companies to offer paid paternity leave; men need to feel confident that society will respect and value his decision to take it. This is going to take a seismic social shift. No gender succeeds at the expense of another, and as our poll shows, mothers have a huge impact in shaping their sons into men. Opening our eyes to the 21st century man is a challenge for all genders.

Kids don't buy into the same gender stereotypes that have been fed to them from the media and advertising. They have male role models who don't fit the image of what soceity tells them a "typical man" looks like.

It's time the media caught up to what the rest of the world realizes. Men are strong and caring and sensitive and multifaceted, and gender stereotypes are as harmful to them as they are to women and girls.

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