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“Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota”: Kyun? Mard Insaan Nahi Hota?

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!

Created by Youth Ki Awaaz

Were you told to hide or control your emotions while growing up?


Manliness is akin to masculinity everywhere. How often have we heard parents telling their toddler sons, “don’t cry like a girl”? The factors that bring masculinity, however, are like Newton’s third law. In a critical society, one ends up blaming the reaction: manliness/masculinity itself, not the reasons that have contributed to this rise.

Society, including educated people, expects men to earn decently and be the only bread earner. Men are told jokingly by their girlfriends and fiancees that their incomes would be used to run the house, whereas hers would instead run the homes of H&M or MAC. Men are, moreover, expected also to be chauvinist! If you are not, then, “Is chivalry dead?” Opening doors and giving up your seats for women are signs of a good and ideal man.

Men are told jokingly by their girlfriends and fiancees that their incomes would be used to run the house. Representational image.

Body idealization is another big indictment of masculinity, and it begins by impressing the opposite gender. For instance, I have seen random Q&A videos on YouTube where a girl nonchalantly explains how “her man” should look like Hrithik Roshan, dance like Shahid Kapoor and have a body like Salman Khan. Without insulting anybody, we need to ask if this what masculinity really is.

But, this is precisely how ideal men are portrayed in our society. Coming from an all-boys Jesuit institution, I have been privy to the excitement and high burst of testosterone levels right before the college fest. We all made sure we dressed well, spoke loudly, and combed our hair well to impress them.

This attitude is still prevalent where I live currently. In the most prominent dating festival for numerous Bengalis, which is Durga Puja, dates are earmarked. Two months before the pujas, men can be seen slogging it out in the gyms and fasting incessantly, religiously following that keto and GM diets only to give all that up and gorge on vanaspati-laden biryani once the pujas begin. In contrast, those faithful to their fitness regimes behave manly by wearing half sleeve t-shirts, screaming intensely, as they rack their brains and their arms only to get her attention.

Bench presses are done to beat personal best records; friends pretend to be squatters to show the lengths that we, as men, can travel.

Next up is the concept of love and sex, and the norm has been established to keep sex first and love last. Sex, these days, is no-frills, frankly speaking. I feel it’s merely bodily love to relieve stress. However, it’s the love part that is murky. By societal expectations, men are forced to earn handsomely to win their partner’s hand, even when the pair believes in equality between men and women. These expectations are portrayed as something their partners want to show off about, ignoring the entire mechanism that prevents them to actually become self-dependent.

The evolution of porn, thanks to cheap data and cheaper smartphones, has created a fog in the head, making it more about one’s ego in terms of performance, and I am sure men can relate to this scenario. The rise of cheesy and mushy heroes like Shahrukh Khan has wooed not only women but also their moms, with both wanting a man that knows how to love a woman, sans the stammering, of course.

A father-son relationship in masculinity is, however, personal and cannot be generalized. I know guys who have been taught from an early age to make their beds and help in the household chores. On the other hand, I know some who don’t even dry their undergarments because it’s not their jobs as breadwinners.

Therefore, let’s ask ourselves, what indeed is a man?

Is it just the outward picture that movies, friend circles and societies associate with us?

Is it not deeper?

Someone who complements and not flatters?

Someone who invests and not splurges?

Someone who loves and not just lusts?

As a man, we also have mood swings; we also need adulation and pampering; we cannot always “man up.”

So, when you hear someone saying, “Mard ko dard nahi hota” (Men don’t feel pain), please ask yourself, “Kyu? Kya mard insaan nahi hota?” (Why? Aren’t men humans as well?)

Bibliography: Using my personal experiences, I’ve tried to make my story interesting and funny, and I don’t seek to belittle anybody!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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