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!
There it goes again!
The latest movie of the Top notch Khan of Bollywood is a hit at the box office.
The girls can’t stop drooling over the ripped and chiselled body of the superstar and the boys, well they want to be as macho and ‘dabbang’ as the protagonist.
If I ask people around me how their idea of masculinity is influenced, the most probable answer I will get is through popular culture, media or movies. Well, there’s no denying that cinema in our society is a gateway to the imagination of other people and a way through which people can escape their boring lives, but when it comes to the influence it has on us, I must say it has a hard impact on all of our lifestyles, whether directly or indirectly.
We perceive what we see on that big white screen. We give birth to ideas through films, and one such idea born from the cinematic culture is “Real men don’t cry or hide behind the curtains! They fight!” Oh, of course, they are right because according to Bollywood, men have muscles. Men have money. Men have girls.
Honestly, in these movies, male protagonists are represented either as a wimp, wearing big round “baba aadam ke zamane ke” (old generational) spectacles, shy of talking to girls, lacking a physical appeal and basically excluded from the social circle. Or they are represented as a ‘hero’ protecting their lady love by fighting the goons. How cliche! I mean who in their right mind would ever try to get involved in such stuff?
I just want to ask a simple question: Why?
Why is it that a ‘man’ is acceptable in this society only when he checklists the certain ‘so-called standard’ of virility?
Why is it that a ‘man’ can’t be as expressive and soft-hearted as a woman?
Why is it that we are discriminating between a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’ by assigning gender roles?
Why is it that we appraise the manliness of a man by the size of their manhood and then make fun of it?
Being a man isn’t the size of your body or how you are expected to beave. It comes from what you perceive and how you think.
There is no one definition for the word ‘masculinity’. It is different for all of us. What if a man decides not to work outside and earn and rather decides to stay at home and raise his children? Maybe his wife is much more capable than him and he respects his wife for earning them. Is it less manly than we think? Does this negate the man’s masculinity? What if that man staying at the home is a social volunteer or a teacher and goes to the gym and works out? Will he be called masculine now? Because he is working, because he is fit and strong and passing the parameters of being a man.
I believe that when we stop meddling in others’ business, maybe then we’ll redefine what it is to be a ‘Man’ and a ‘Woman’. I mean there are women out there who display masculine traits and there are men who display feminine traits and still ‘Be a Man’ at the end of the day. Eventually, we all are humans and we are free to do whatever we want to do and live our lives in whatever way we want to.
To conclude, I would just like to quote a few beautiful lines that “the true definition of masculinity and femininity too- is being able to lay in your skin comfortably.”