Patriarchy is insidious; it affects everyone in the most understated ways and then builds up to a horrifying crescendo. While women have to bear the brunt of patriarchal repression, patriarchy’s obsession with definite gender roles and division of labour means that men are not free from its clutches. Men are constantly expected to live up to a certain standard, to behave a certain way, and almost any deviation from this masculine ideal is seen as a sign of ‘weakness’, ridiculed, and even punished. And so patriarchy wreaks havoc on our mental health; through total and complete alienation, it prevents us from following our own dreams, finding our true identities, achieving our own happiness, even as it showers us with material privilege.
‘Mainstream’ Indian society being as repressive and patriarchal as it is, there is little wonder that India is one of the most depressed countries in the world. As talented spoken word poet Simar Singh points out in this powerful video, who knows how many men have had to sacrifice their ambitions, and perhaps their lives, in this crucible of manliness? Who knows what our fathers and brothers truly wanted to be, but could not, because they had a role to live up to? Maybe it is time to not just start talking about how patriarchy affects men, but also to actively reject these roles and identities, and pave the way for a society where these roles don’t exist. It’s time to #UnManYourself.