This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sanskriti Pandey. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

[Video] “If You Think Only Women Are Shackled And Men Are Free, You Are Wrong”

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By Sanskriti Pandey:

The fight for gender equality involves a fight against deeply ingrained stereotypes that haunt every person who does not fit the role assigned to their gender. While on one hand many wrongly believe that feminism is anti-men, on the other hand the truth is, men are equal victims of a social construct that thrives off expectations. Like when one is born a woman, every act is ticked off a check-list for proper ‘feminine’ behaviour, with men too, ‘hypermasculinity’ and associated roles are assumed to be a pre-requisite to ‘manly’ behaviour.

Some men decided to get together and shatter these assumptions about being a man. Their message hits home when they ask: “What if I want to be a home-maker? What if I don’t have interest in sports? What if I want to choose what I really like, without being judged? If you think only women are shackled and men are free, then you’re wrong. A lot of us completely overlook the fact that sexism affects men just as badly as it hits women in society. We both are trapped!”.

Watch this video and comment below with your experiences.

To know more about what I think of this video, follow me on Twitter at @im_sanskriti.

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  1. pankaj

    The feminist narrative about feminism being good for men is false and people are increasingly seeing the double standards practiced by mainstream feminists. They want to take away privileges traditionally enjoyed by men without freeing them of the onerous responsibilities that the so called “patriarchy’ imposed on them. For instance they want affirmative action for women in employment but also want stronger alimony laws imposed on men. They have been aggressively pushing for the marriage law amendment act which gives women a share in even their husband’s inherited or inheritable property after divorce. Similarly they oppose making domestic violence laws gender neutral thereby denying the fact that some men may (contrary to “traditional gender roles”) be vulnerable to abuse from their female partners. So they are more than happy about reinforcing traditional gender roles where they suit women. Hence articles like these increasingly ring hollow to men

    1. Akshat Seth

      They ring hollow to people who refuse to recognize the realities of Indian society and consider some up-market urban middle class spaces to represent In India. They ring hollow to people who have not been anywhere near the small towns and the Mofussils and seen patriarchy reinforced. They ring hollow to people who have not an iota of idea about how the society still is heavily skewed in favor of men.
      Dude, gimme stats to prove that the atrocities against men by women number even half that of vice-versa. And bring stats- not some stupid Asaram Bapu type nonsense.

    2. Pankaj

      Akshat, that’s a strawman argument. If you want to lash out at someone who does not recognize atrocities faced by women, then you need to look for someone else. Also, I’ve lived in small towns and don’t know how you brought in asaram in all of this

      I am simply calling out the double standards of many mainstream feminists when addressing gender roles. I’ll give you a few examples. Will post more examples in a subsequent post.

      Lets first look at alimony and marriage related laws. Will give examples related to other issues in a subsequent post
      – A few years ago the National Commission for Women had recommended at a conference at National Law School, Bangalore that the alimony laws should be further strengthened whereby it shall become the ‘duty’ of a man to provide maintenance to his wife and children ‘irrespective of the fact that he has sufficient means’. That effectively means that a man who may be struggling to find a job may be put in prison for not having sufficient means to maintain his wife and children

      – Recently the Rajya Sabha had passed the Marriage Law Amendment Bill which seeks to give a share in the property of the husband, including his inherited and inheritable property. This is besides the monthly maintenance that she would in acny case be entitled to. Many feminists strongly supported this law and opposed any suggestion that the property of the man and woman acquired after marriage be equitably divided as that would be fairer and that inheritances be kept out of the law

      Now, if you push for stronger and more draconian alimony laws you are effectively reinforcing the man’s traditional role of being the breadwinner and provider. There’s no point railing against gender roles, demanding that men also be househusbands etc while leaving no scope for him to even contemplate doing that by creating laws that making it obligatory for him to have a job and provide for his wife before or after divorce.

    3. Akshat Seth

      I agree that the normativity around men being the sole breadwinner needs to be challenged.
      To hold feminists accountable for this situation (I agree there are in every progressive ideology, short sighted people, we have seen that in the mainstream Dalit discourse as well who think that merely reversing the caste atrocity will change the law).
      Just look at the situation on the ground. Outside the miniscule minority of the Urban Middle Class which has had some sort of equality in terms of women being able to work, do you see the society having changed much? I don’t see it having changed much. The traditional social roles of the Husband as the sole breadwinner is reinforced, and not by the woman mind you.
      I think you are saying that what it takes is a social transformation rather than laws to change that. Completely agree.

      But I do not see any desire to change. Reading Youth Ki Awaz consistently and seeing the protests in Delhi might make us believe that times have changed enough- they haven’t.

      Now what do we do when the capitalist profit-hungry media just reinforces patriarchy and the society does not want to change? I agree that even stringent laws on Dowry and Rapes are used and every individual victim of such a travesty is a catastrophe for us.

      I won’t blame feminism as a movement for that scenario. I’d say that either this society change itself or it is only through laws that are bound to be misused but are the only remedy in such a scenario when still the woman is blamed for everything. There are plenty of Shah Banos for each male victim in this country. The onus lies on us to try and end this discrimination of thousands of years rather than taking self-righteous approaches.
      That is my humble opinion.

    4. Pankaj

      Let us agree to disagree on this.

      I am certainly not being self righteous. You had asked for statistics and I provided you several. Let me provide you some more. About 2 lakh people (25% of whom are female relatives of the husband – sisters, mothers etc) are arrested every year under the dowry act. The conviction rate ranges between merely 12% to 4% depending on how you process the data. The conviction rate is so low despite the onus of proof under the dowry law being on the accused (i.e. there is no presumption of innocence unlike other crimes, so the accused has to actually prove his innocence) which is indicative of false cases being filed. While we can’t be sure of the exact proportion of false cases, it is clear that its possibly not the ‘minuscule number its dismissed often to be

      Then the statistics on the rape cases filed in Delhi, in my previous post show that an unacceptably high proportion of cases are filed under the ‘pretext of marriage’ part of the law. This is also not a minuscule statistic. Why dismiss the suffering of people as ‘minuscule’ or as some sort of collateral damage simply because their suffering does not fit the dominant narrative

      About Shah Bano – that is specific to Muslim law as in India we have seperate personal laws for Muslims. So there is no point citing this in the general context. I assure you that in the vast majority of marriages which are conducted under the Hindu Marriage Act or the Special Marriages Act a husband is expected to provide maintenance and alimony as per the law so that her standard of living is maintained at pre-divorce levels. Further, the law being championed by feminists will also provide her a share in the husband’s property including his inherited and inheritable property. This as I said before enforces gender roles and yet is supported by feminists because this a gender role that favors women

      As for small towns and villages. My own sense differs from yours slightly. While I agree that society is at different stages of advancement in different parts of the country, I having lived in a small town can tell you that people in small towns are as smart as people in cities when it comes to misusing a law or gaming the system. Let’s give them some credit. And money triumphs social customs and tradition. There are lots of cases of misuse of women centric laws that are being reported in small towns. Just have a look at some small town edition of a Hindi/ vernacular paper sometime

    5. Pankaj

      Another example relates to rape laws and more specifically relating to ‘rape on the pretext of marriage’ whereby under Indian law if a man has a sexual relationship with a woman and goes back on a promise of marriage it would be deemed rape. This is a ridiculous law that gets used against the man during a bad breakup and criminalizes innocent men, denying them the right to reconsider a decision to marry one’s girl friend. This is a law that like the alimony laws mentioned in my previous post reinforces gender roles as it treats women like children who cannot be expected to take responsibility for their bad decisions. Shouldn’t feminists be pushing strongly to remove this law since they are opposed to gender roles and since according to this article feminism intends to liberate men from ‘the patriarchy’ as well? But we don’t see that happening as this particular sexist law suits women. Just so that you understand that ‘rape on the pretext of marriage’ is not some obscure law that gets rarely used, please have a look at the link below to an article in the Hindu based on extensive study of all cases of rape that were prosecuted in Delhi in 2013. Almost 25% of the cases were based on breach of promise to marry’

      “The Hindu found that one-fifth of the cases were wound up because the complainant did not appear or turned hostile. Of the cases fully tried, over 40% dealt with consensual sex, usually involving the elopement of a young couple and the girl’s parents subsequently charging the boy with rape. Another 25% dealt with “breach of promise to marry””

    6. Pankaj

      And then there is section 497 of the Indian Penal Code under which only a man can be prosecuted for adultery but a woman can’t. This is again a sexist law that treats women like children but the National Commission for women strongly opposed an attempt to amend it and make it gender neutral. Again the NCW wanted to preserve those gender stereotypes that help women

      All I was saying was that there articles such as these which claim that men too need to be liberated from ‘the patriarchy’ and from gender roles and that feminism is beneficial to men also ring hollow when feminists seek to preserve those gender stereotypes and sexist laws that help women.

  2. Pankaj

    Just to add to the second last post, the ‘rape on pretext of marriage’ comprises more than 70% of cases prosecuted in Mumbai

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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