Real men don't cry. They also only wear rigid materials, drink scotch for breakfast and hunt down grizzlies with their bare hands.
Sadly, this clearly exaggerated version of masculinity has a certain truth to it — at least as far as societal expectations go.
We expect guys to be strong and brave, willing to take on challenges and do "manly" things. And when they don't comply with these socially-imposed norms, we question their manhood by calling them "cowards" and "sissies."
Dominykas, 26: "It’s my choice what kind of man I want to be."
The project was inspired by the fact that the Lithuanian government recently decided to reintroduce conscription to the army, which means that every year about 3,500 men aged 19-26 will be randomly recruited to join the force. (The Lithuanian population comprises almost 3 million people; an estimated 200,000 men are 19 to 26.)
For nine months, these men will be forced to leave their jobs, friends and families, and spend time completing the military training.
Jaunius, 18: "A gun in your hands doesn’t define your manliness."
According to Rekasiute and Tiskevic-Hasanova, the decision came as a big shock to lots of young men, who have been working and making other plans for their future.
"Some men took it to social media to express their opinions, but they were met with an unbelievable amount of negativity: people – both men and women –were calling them 'cowards,' 'useless human beings,' 'unmanly,' 'a disgrace,' etc," they told A Plus.
To help communicate their collective experiences, Rekasiute and Tiskevic-Hasanova invited 14 men to express their ideas on manliness and how it's related to the idea of conscription (if it's related at all.) Take a look at some of their answers below.
Vytautas, 27: "Army won’t make a man out of you - once a dumbass, always a dumbass."
Edvinas, 18: "Can you imprison a man’s choice and call it free living?"
In Lithuania, conscription was abolished back in 2008, but it still exists in some other European countries, such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland. However, military service is usually done right after school, when people's lives are still in the making.
The problem that most Lithuanian men had with the government's decision was that it literally takes nine months out of your normal day-to-day life, which threatens jobs, relationships and also makes a big impact on the person's finance.
Mindaugas, 25: "When I was in school, conscript army was removed. I was very happy back then. Now that I look back, I realise that was the time to go. Now I have my own agency, created jobs for other people and I need to take care of them."
Another contributing factor is that during the Soviet occupation (1944-1990), many Lithuanian men experienced "dedovshchina," or an informal practice of initiation where junior conscripts would be humiliated and often even physically hurt by their senior counterparts.
The belief that "dedovshchina" still exists in today's army frightens people and makes them shy away from military service.