"Can you imprison a man’s choice and call it free living?"
On May 11th, 2015, more than 37,000 men between the ages of 19-26 woke up to find their surnames on Lithuania’s compulsory military service list. 3,000 were needed for the first wave of recruits, but 2/3 of the first group were filled by volunteers. Some of the men took to social media to express their thoughts on what was being called a sudden and random ‘lottery.’
But perhaps most disturbing was the public’s response to the expressed feelings of those men who did not want to join the army. They were called “unmanly,” “cowardly,” “disgraceful,” etc. This negativity caught the attention of two women in Lithuania who decided to use photography to lend depth into the very controversial topic.
Lithuanian Actress and TV host Beata Tiskevic-Hasanova and Lithuanian photographer and political science student Neringa Rekasiute began capturing portraits of men suddenly conscripted into the Lithuanian army just a few short months ago.
The two women gathered 14 random men, aged 17-28, and took their photographs. In the portraits, the men are captured crying in military uniforms. It’s an understatement to say the images evolve beyond words and are very moving.
Beata and Neringa thought this project would be a good way to show how dangerous gender expectations are: a man is expected to be rational, emotionless, and aggressive. But if that is the gender stereotype we accept and allow to rule our masculine-driven world, little will be resolved through the way of conflict.
It is very important that we, as a collective, teach men to express their emotions and not force a stereotypical archaic role onto them.
Every picture is accompanied by the models’ quotes. They are expressing their opinions about what it is to be manly and how it relates to going to the army.