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!
MAN, MEN, MALE- the hot topics of our generation, the gender regarded as the dominant one, the gender treated as an emotionless one, the gender referred to as the macho man. But do we ever take two minutes and pat the back of men and say “It’s okay, everything will be fine?” Generally, we don’t because we assume that since they are the male sex, they can possibly do anything and everything.
Being from a joint family with a greater number of cousin brothers than sisters, one common constant phrase I have heard while growing up is “boys don’t cry”. Gender isn’t to be blamed, the society needs to be questioned: Why? Do they not have tear glands? Do they not feel the physical pain when hurt? Do they not feel the emotional pain? Do they not have feelings, like any other individual?
As soon as boys become adults, and tears well up in their eyes, people start asking them to not “cry like girls”.
It seems like now even tears are practising gender discrimination!
“Maa, I want the pink Doraemon, please,” my brother said when he was 3 years old and pat came the reply, “Pink is for girls, you better take the blue one.”
Yes, the age-old custom of segregating gender on the basis of colour where the standard stereotypical colour for boys is blue. Wrapping a newborn girl child in a pink towel and a boy child in a blue towel is where the roots of gender inequality get triggered. But why? Do we ever question? Actually no, we keep on following what has been followed.
So now even colours are practising gender discrimination, eh?
“Huh! Who gives a toy kitchen set to a boy on his birthday! Keep that aside, we shall give it to someone else. Play with the racing cars you’ve got,” exclaimed my aunt on his son’s birthday.
“But Maa, I liked that more than the cars, I want to be a chef when I grow up,” asserted my cousin brother.
But darling, in our society, even professions are biased in accordance with gender.
Howsoever successful you become, how much ever respect you earn, no matter how much you earn, people will keep reminding you that YOU ARE A MAN and being a chef is not regarded as a manly job.
A man is always judged on the basis of the salary he earns.
We know that in India the practice of arranged marriages is very prevalent and the introductory question a boy faces is “how much do you earn? /what’s your income?/ what’s your salary?”. The only difference is that in these times, people are more courteous and ask this question indirectly. But in the end, do we realise the mental pressure put on a man who has to earn not just a decent amount but an amount high enough to be accepted by society.
Another issue arises when between married couples, the husband earns less than the wife. Our societal standards do not accept a man earning less than his wife. Yes, these are also the clutches of patriarchy and from a man’s perspective, it heavily affects his mental health because he is mocked at and that eventually ends up affecting the couple’s relationship.
So even money and career are used to discriminate against people on the grounds of gender in order to be accepted by our society!!!
Since their childhoods, boys are taught not to raise hands on girls; not to fight with them, which is an important measure. But, solely doing this hides the aspect of domestic violence inflicted on men by their partners, both physical and emotional.
As long as there is mutual respect, mutual understanding, trust and love, can this world be a better place for both males and females? Then can we attain gender equality from the perspective of both genders, which is quite hypothetical right now?
There was also a large proportion of victims of emotional violence. There are also times when some women misuse the law by accusing a person guilty of molestation, eve-teasing or even rape just for the sake of personal vengeance. Even though that doesn’t deny the fact that the laws do render protection to a great number of women, this needs to be paid attention to, too. But unfortunately, nothing much is done about these false accusation cases.
It is not easy to be a man in a country like India. The violence against men is largely unrecognized even by international law standards. According to an NCBI survey report out of 1000 males, 51.5% experienced violence at the hands of their wives or intimate partner at least once in their lifetime.
Even child sexual abuse in the case of boys is quite prevalent. According to a 2007 survey conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Save The Children and Prayas show that 53.22% of children faced one or more forms of sexual abuse; and among them, the number of boys abused was 52.94%.
Now let’s look at the punishment aspect. The magnitude of corporal punishment or consequences faced by boys is greater than girls.
Why is it so? Because we regard men to be physically stronger. Why is it that the boys/men do not protest? Because they are under the constant pressure of proving themselves as stronger, physically, mentally as well as emotionally which in turn affects their mental well-being.
It’s high time we need to keep aside the concept of “Mard ko dard nahi hota”. (Men don’t feel pain)