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!
Gender is a topic that is like physics. It seems so simple yet so complex but is actually simple. When a child is born, a gender is given to him/her/them. When a person dies, their identity of gender remains immortal. What lies between birth and death is Life, which becomes a complex web owing to gender but if looked at closely, it seems to be so simple.
The norms associated with masculinity and femininity are so common and deep-rooted that if anyone tries to break them, they get various titles, sometimes they might be encouraging but mostly they are discriminatory, sexist, misogynistic and what not.
When these things are observed from the perspective of a ‘boy’, things may even get slightly complex. The norms and criterion of masculinity that he is expected to adhere to are far more discriminatory. If he tries to redefine masculinity, he is labelled as gay/chakka/hijra.
I myself have been labelled as gay and ‘meetha‘ for reasons that even those who give these names may not even be aware of. People have often tried to make fun of me just because of the way I speak, even the topics on which i like to speak, and of course whenever I call out their sexist or misogynist attitudes or conversations. The new normal is something that must be there for creating a better world, a world that is full of positivity and accepts people as they are.
The even sadder part of my story remains that when some people on one fine morning tried to make fun of me and gave me labels just to make me feel embarrassed and humiliated, I called them out through a post on Facebook. I was the one who was advised by most, primarily those who were common friends of mine and those ‘masculine people’, that what I did was wrong.
This is something that males are subjected to on a daily basis but something not discussed much.
Breaking gender norms isn’t that difficult and many males do that very often but what prevents them from continuing it is the fear that they would be rejected from their peer groups and be labelled as someone they are not. Redefining masculinity while being a heterosexual male boy is something that is not acceptable to many. Labelling men and making fun of them isn’t normal.