Editor’s Note: This post is a part of What's A Man, a series exploring masculinity in India, in collaboration with Dr. Deepa Narayan. Join the conversation here!
In this era of feminism and modernization of society where the community as a whole is coming out of the age-old beliefs of patriarchy, and where the notions which deemed women as inferior to men are being challenged, it becomes equally crucial to have some cross-checks upon what it means to be a man.
“You become a man not when you reach a certain age, but when you reach a certain state of mind” – Habeeb Akande.
Most men today are unsure if they are men or boys, and men often ask themselves, “What has to happen before I become a man?”. So it becomes quite clear that just being born as a male does not make a person a man. The transition from boyhood to manhood is a major and very crucial part of becoming a man.
Becoming a man requires numerous characteristics namely perseverance, hard work, patience, control over one’s feelings and strict discipline to name a few. While such characteristics are not just limited to men alone, women too possess such great qualities and sometimes even more than these.
However, these qualities transform a boy into a man. A man who can provide for his family, a man who has value. Age even though not the most important is an important factor in the transformation of a man. And even though men have fewer emotions as compared to their female counterparts, having emotions does not make a man any less of a man than he actually is.
In the movement against toxic masculinity, often the very basic attributes of being a man are looked down upon by society, which leads to a feeling of confusion among young boys about what the phrase “being a man” represents.
With all that being said, becoming a man in no way means to look down upon women or consider them inferior to men. It means improving oneself and becoming more responsible and better in every way possible. I personally believe that the day a man raises his hand against a woman meaning hurts her physically or threatens to hurt her physically, he ceases to be a man. Also, weak men have a basic common trait, they want to dominate over women.
“All cruelty springs from weakness”.- Seneca.
Only if men and women come together and work alongside each other in harmony, we can have a society that is free from the prejudices of the past.