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Language: Mind your engendered step!

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By Akash Shukla

Language, identity, gender and politics are interwoven in a relationship that amazingly twists the very fabric of sustainable development in education. Even though we use language constantly, we don’t normally pay a great deal of attention to it.

Be it barren, bimbo, blonde, ball breaker or any other word, Indian media has always been in the line of fire for failing to escape the biasness that English and Hindi bring along with a grudge. There are 220 words in an average dictionary to describe women of ill repute while there are 20 for men. There are three male words for every female word. The word ‘Fast’ need not only amount to ‘speed’ semantically. It also refers to persons who get what they want quickly, especially in a sexual relationship. The terms ‘fast’ or ‘loose’ are often used for women who are friendly to men.

Six things women must learn from men

Man teaches: Logic Lessons

“Don’t hate me for pointing this out, but life will be far easier if women understand that everything in life has logic behind it. Men follow their innate logic as they take decisions, while women are absolutely unaware about the mere existence of logic. And this makes it really hard for men to deal with women,” says TV actor Mihir Mishra for TOI.

The above-stated extract is a lifestyle feature and it harps on the logical predominance of men over women. The bullet point ‘Man teaches: Logic lessons’ reinforces the headline view of male supremacy. Telly celebs voice their viewpoints and their opinion gain momentum via PRINT, it tends to shape ideologies. And, what follows is an endless hue and cry over lax and loose reporting by activists and feminists.

‘Think global and act local (GLOCAL)’ is the way to approach and tackle a report situation. Here follows a list of unprintable headlines in GLOCAL context:

Picture Credit: rediff.com
Picture Credit: rediff.com
  1. Virginity, a must for a happy marriage? (TOI  Life & Style)
  2. Sex on Demand. Get What You Want Everytime! (Men’s Health. Cover)
  3. Ultimate Orgasms. MAKE ‘EM STRONGER and LONGER (Women’s Health. Cover)
  4. BE A LUCKY BITCH! (Cosmopolitan. Cover)
  5. …SEX UP THE BEDROOM (Femina India. Cover)
  6. The mistress of KONKAN SPICES (Indian Express. COASTAL SOIREE)

The list is endless. All these and many more top the charts and rule the roost in mainstream media and lifestyle journalism periodically. Use of words like ‘virginity’, ‘orgasms’, ‘bitch’, and ‘mistress’ is derogatory for women. Irrespective of any refutation, the wordplay is foul and is tantamount to hollow sensationalism. The projection of women is sexual in all the headlines stated above. Women have been snubbed and sidelined as arrogant, shopaholics and sex objects only. Sensationalist headlines do arrest attention but engendered language mutilates ideology of the common man.

Mass communication students and aspiring journalists should be taught to read between the texts and bring out the covert meaning which is always different from its overt counterpart. The world reads story from the publication’s perspective. Since there are no absolute facts, the version of truth tabled by the reporter must not tarnish the image of a publication’s policy.

Lastly, media is the watchdog of society and the only leash appropriate for it is judicious self-restraint at all times for careful and responsible reportage. A teacher must follow suit and do what is best for the students in the ever-changing teaching scenario.

 

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California Becomes the first US State to allow Gender-neutral Birth Certificates

The so-called "nonbinary" gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more "genders."

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The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents. Pixabay

California, October 17, 2017 : California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a state senate bill, allowing a gender-neutral marker on birth certificates and driver’s licenses starting from 2019.

California thus became the first state in the US to allow a “nonbinary” gender to be marked on birth certificates, Xinhua news agency reported.

The so-called “nonbinary” gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more “genders.”

According to the Gender Recognition Act approved on Sunday, California will offer a gender-neutral option on state documents for those who are transgender, intersex and others who are not identified as male or female.

ALSO READ Finding their place in the world; Oxford Dictionary to include honorific Mx for transgenders

The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents.

“Existing law authorises a person who was born in this state and who has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition to obtain a new birth certificate from the State Registrar,” the bill read.

The Golden State is now also the second state in the US to allow residents to be identified by a gender marker other than “F” or “M” on their driver’s license.

Oregon and the District of Columbia had earlier issued the gender-neutral option on their driver’s licenses.

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Sexism is Real and Men Face it too!

While women tend to pay heed to such remarks, sexism directed towards men goes largely unnoticed. Read on to know if you have been making sexist remarks towards your male counterparts

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sexism
Sexism is unbridled in the Indian society and (finally) being talked about. Pixabay

New Delhi, September 9, 2017 : Society has a huge role to play in the person that we become. And sometimes, that may not be the right way to go about it.

More often than not, society forces us to be somebody we are not. A woman belongs in the kitchen, a man is not supposed to cry; who established these ground rules to function in the society?

Sexism is real, and men face it too (surprise!)

“Man up!”

“Don’t be such a girl!”

Men are always expected to display vigor and anger; their insecurities are rarely taken into account and would rather be pushed under a rug that the society largely identifies as ‘masculinity’.

We keep reminding men that they should not wear pink, that they cannot cry, and that they are only supposed to express their emotions in a certain way. We tell them to ‘not be such a girl’, to shake off their fears and ‘man up’ and to always take charge. And this never stops.

But what we are forgetting here is that men have emotions too; even when the society does not allow them to emote explicitly.

These expressions and understanding are so entrenched in daily communiqué that sometimes we fail to realize when we are making a sexist remark.

Yes, sexism is unbridled in the Indian society and (thankfully) being talked about.

While women tend to pay heed to such remarks, sexism directed towards men goes largely unnoticed.

Here are a few subtle hints to how sexism has become a part of everyday life for men,

sexism
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey 2016, 38 % victims of sexual violence were men.

Men are often faced with questions like “why didn’t you fight her?”, and made jokes on how they must have enjoyed it because why wouldn’t anybody enjoy a sexual encounter that essentially has ‘no strong attached’.

People in the 21st century fail to realize the real, societal damage that women who sexually assault men, cause to the society.

 

 

sexism
The society largely looks down upon the men who earn less than their ‘weaker’ counterparts.

The man is supposed to be the ‘provider’ of the family, earning most of the money. For many men, it feels like a hard slap when women earn more money.

Because if they aren’t earning a living for their family, how can they be a “true” man?

 

 

sexism
The society places unnecessary expectations on boys from a young age. Boys can only be ‘strong’, and ‘big’. Why cant they be sensitive and soft?

Sexism places men and women in stereotypical roles- women are ‘naturally’ kind, compassionate and sensitive, while the men are ‘naturally’ more rational, and stronger, physically and mentally.

 

 

Sexism
There is no denying that girls are body shamed,;but assuming that they are ‘weak’ and hence not self-sufficient is taking that to the next level.

People say this to boys all the time and must be immediately stopped because it increasingly encourages the mindset that girls are inherently weak.

Even when the tone of such sexist comments is compassionate- sometimes even flattering, they are indicative of a stereo-typically narrow and insulting worldview.

 

 

Sexism
Not only is it unnatural to discourage men from undertaking work that they are passionate about, it is also dangerous.

Despite the cliche that art is a universal language, artists are interpreted very differently in terms of their gender. The unease and suspicion that accompany a male artist, irrespective of what art form he practices, are often based out of society’s view of the body and a larger understanding of ‘masculinity’.

 

 

Sexism
Suggesting that boys and girls should be held to different behaviors is dowright demeaning, not to ignore dangerous.

The dominant idea about what a ‘real’ man should be include behaviors such as dominance, control, assertiveness, and emotional unresponsiveness. The society continues to think that men ‘do not do work’, but instead they ‘get work done’ by their weaker counterparts-the women.

While circumstances continue to evolve for the better, in the larger society, there still is a special place in the society  for men who get angry- they are looked upon with reverence. No one points out their anger issues, or frowns upon them. It seems like arrogance and aggression are the only two emotions that men can acceptably show; that these are the only emotions that a man today is capable of showing.

We need to understand that men no longer have to ‘man up’. Instead, let them be a little more human


 

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Men too Suffer Under Patriarchy: Read Here!

Men are often faced with questions like "You're still pining over an unsuccessful relationship? Come on, boys don't cry" and "What do you mean you cook and your wife doesn't?" under the Indian patriarchy.

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Patriarchy places immense pressure on men as well.
Men are often at turmoil, deciding how to confine to society's set expectations. Pixabay

New Delhi, July 30, 2017: 

FEMINISM – An issue that has been trending on all social media for a while now- the Oxford Dictionary defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. From elaborate movements defending first-day-of–period leave and equal pay, the movement is finally seeing the light of the day in the Indian context.

However, when we focus on how feminism solely reimburses the women under patriarchy, we miss an extremely integral part of the conversation- the ways in which patriarchy affects men.

As a feminist, I have a lot of sympathy for men as well, for which I am almost always at the receiving end of a lot of flack. But I believe that it isn’t just women who are the victims of the society and its patriarchal conditioning, but men too!

We live in a society where the sight of a woman shedding a few tears doesn’t raise any eyebrows, but a man doing the same invites a buzzing swarm of ‘Haww! Look at him!’

The way it is acceptable for a woman to openly express, but the questioning of even the most trivial expressive actions of a man, highlights an imperative underlying problem that is being overlooked in the pretext of ‘patriarchy’.

The society and its collective mentality which says that a woman should stay at home while the man should be the bread earner of the family is the core factor for imbibing different upbringing for boys and girls.

And for some reason, breaking this stereotype does not get the same response.

A man breaking these stereotypes is greeted with a sea of questions.

“Why do you stay at home? A man’s true calling is out there, to work in the field amidst competition.”

“You’re still pining over an unsuccessful relationship? Come on, boys don’t cry.”

“What do you mean you cook and your wife doesn’t?”

While women defying popular stereotypes are flooded with appreciation, men often struggle to justify their stance at every step.

Ways in which patriarchy affects the Indian men-

  1. Toxic masculinity

Men get bullied too. Men face abuse too. And men have their heart broken too.

Because men are human too. Period.

However, the society expects men to never be open about their emotions, but ignore them and ‘toughen up’.  The societal standards for men are venomous- they are destructive and downright regressive.

A man is not supposed to cry, feel pain, or despair because well, ‘boys don’t cry’.

2. False implications 

False complaints of rape and dowry  not just blemish the image of a man, but his line of business, future possibilities, and physical and mental harmony.  Alas, there still are cases of false accusations to extort money or ruin another man’s life that men fight in the Indian patriarchy.

3. Sexual assault

Male rape victims have always been unvoiced sufferers. They are neither at the receiving end of compassion from the society, nor do they have appropriate laws in place for their defense. To add to the anguish, the society makes them feel as “less of a man” because they were assaulted at the hands of ‘frail’ women.

4. Monetary Pressure 

Men do not have a choice but to be bread winners for their families under this patriarchy, which sometimes comes at the cost of sacrificing their own aspirations. They have to think twice and are almost always ridiculed for taking a major career decision because they are always fraught with ‘responsibilities’ to shoulder.

5. Fatherhood 

A child has to be just the responsibility of a woman, apart from the financial aspect of child bearing- that specifically is a man’s domain. As long as a man can take care of all the finances, his assistance in other aspects of child care are not questioned, or asked for. This is the reason why basic concepts like a paternity leave are understood as a redundant notion.

ALSO READ: Girls Count: Uprooting patriarchy by recognizing the role of civil society

Just like women, men fight stereotypes on a daily basis, too. They are looked down upon if they don’t fit society’s set stereotypes- cooking, dancing, fashion continue to be domains not viewed as ‘manly’ enough. And the men who manage to scrap being type-casted to this concept of toxic masculinity prevalent in the Indian society are humiliated.

Equality between sexes is a long drawn battle.
Patriarchy exerts immense pressure on both the sexes in the Indian society. Pixabay

Popular opinion holds that in cases of domestic violence, men are the instigators while women suffer as victims. However, while this is the dominant course of actions, what cannot be ignored is that men are at the receiving end of this abuse, too.

According to the latest statistics by UK based ManKind initiative (released in February 2017), 4.4% of men stated that they have experienced domestic abuse in 2015-16, equivalent to an estimated 716,000 male victims. The same research pointed out  male victims (39%) are over three times as likely as women (12%) not to tell anyone about the partner-abuse they suffer from.

The reason that most female-perpetrated violence goes unreported is due to the stigma attached to it, apparent biases, and the promptness of the system to believe that a woman would never be in such a dominant position to overpower a man in any way possible.

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A father’s role as a parent has also always been undermined, if not ignored by the society when in reality, his presence is as important as the mother’s.

These examples are simple, however thought-provoking of how men are type-cast to cater to notions that are not only ancient but also regressive.

What is important to understand is that gender equality should be both ways. Motivating a woman to work and cook for the family, but demeaning a man for doing the same is plain hypocrisy!

The goal should be to create a society where gender equality doesn’t mean the commemoration of women only but a society where issues are of key importance, rather than the combination of chromosomes one inherits.

– by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
Click here- www.newsgram.com/donate