Why Are Unemployed Men Looked Down Upon?

Posted by Arunchandra c in Masculinity, Society
February 16, 2017
Editor’s note: This story is in response to Youth Ki Awaaz’s topic for this week – #GenderStereotypes to smash ridiculous rules around gender imposed by patriarchy. If you have an experience to share, write to us here.

In these times of inflation and rise in the cost of living, it’s hard to survive without a job. If you are unemployed for an extended period, people are going to look at you differently.

Unfortunately, this is particularly the case, if you are a man. In our society, men are primarily defined by what they do for a living than anything else. If you are a man, the first question people ask, after your name, is what do you do? Where do you work? Social interactions can turn out to be little awkward than normal for an unemployed man.

Most of your friends will instantly look down upon you once they find out that you are unemployed. Being a man, you have to hide your unemployment status because being your job role determines how man enough you are. I have seen that many guys trying to cover up their unemployment status from their peers and everyone around them, to avoid the embarrassment.

Most often during family gatherings, you will be looked at with pity or some of them will keep on asking, haven’t you applied anywhere? Are you not doing enough? And thousands of other free pieces of advice on what should you be doing. All this will make you want to run away from the place or bury your face in the sand.

If you are a married man, you will be facing the worst. People will constantly tell you to find any random job immediately. Some will even ask you, “Aren’t you ashamed to live on your wife’s earnings?” It can be hard to “feel like a man” when you aren’t making any money. We are made to think and believe in that way.

Why does our society look down on unemployed men so much? Well! It’s because men are expected to be sole income earner of the family. The man is the one who is supposed to shoulder the entire financial responsibility for the household. A man who is not employed is considered incapable, or people think that something is wrong with the person.

But, if unemployment goes up causing thousands of men to lose their jobs, are we going to look down upon all of them?

Why do we think that only a man should be the breadwinner of the family? No one bats an eye if a woman stays at home to take care of the home. We all enjoyed watching the movie “Ki & Ka”, but I don’t think anybody wants to implement what the movie shows in their lives. I don’t blame them either; they are afraid of being ostracised and shamed by the society around them.

It’s easy to enjoy the concept on the big screen, but in real life, people do not have the courage to do what the protagonists of “Ki & Ka” did. Our society is not mature enough to accept something that is different from the set norm.