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-
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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