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The Way Men Are Raised Perpetuates Patriarchy And Toxic Masculinity

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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?

TW: Domestic Abuse, Death

In my last article, I wrote about the effects of masculinity on men and that it’s ‘nurture’ not ‘nature’  that is shaping the overall idea of masculinity. This article is about the way Indian masculinity penetrates society and its role in love, relationships, and the counter-revolution which is challenging this toxic masculinity.

The ways boy are raised in Indian families and the way their father behaves affects their adulthood.

Recently in Delhi, a man poisoned his wife and her family with thallium which is a poisonous substance. In this incident, 4 people died and his wife is critical. In an investigation, it was found that the man took revenge on his in-laws as they were allegedly humiliating and taunting him as he was not doing any job. His manly ego got hurt and this crime happened. In another recent incident in Telangana, a man slit her throat after arguing with her. These incidents are not just about controlling anger.

Pampering as a son is a common sight in Indian families. This also relates to the patriarchal culture of India. The majority of mothers don’t accept that their sons can make mistakes or misbehave. Defending the son is the prime duty for most mothers. And the behaviour of these boys towards women becomes toxic if their father usually considers their wives as objects.

They beat their wives, don’t allow them to take decisions, etc. Overall, these kinds of men don’t even think that their spouse has their own identity and life apart from being a wife, mother, etc. When boys are raised in such an atmosphere, they find it very difficult to respect a woman and even find it more difficult to accept her opinion or simply apologize.

When these boys are confronted by women who are treated at par with the sons in their family, two things happen usually. The first is that these boys go into an absolutely emotional breakdown or these boys become aggressive. This aggressiveness turns into sexual violence, physical violence or emotional torture. It becomes very difficult to adjust to the relationship. So the way boys are brought up matters a lot.

Girls, on the other hand, are treated quite differently. If she laughs loudly then she is not that ‘sanskari‘ (well-mannered). The way she walks or sits is also controlled by the parents. Since childhood, it is fed to them that “You are a girl, you should know cooking, wear a proper dress” (so that boys don’t consider her as an open invitation), etc. This scene is changing slowly now. But this revolution has not reached rural India yet. While girls are still married at a young age, dowry practise continues even today, and the education of girls stops at a young age.

Our films are also of no use. Being a man here means 4 packs should be abs, when a girl says no to a boy in a relationship, she means yes. And many such stereotypes are shown. All these behaviours are reflected in society. But there are some people like Anubhav Sinha in Bollywood who have slapped this behaviour directly.

Many men do not allow their wives to do jobs and others are those who do find it difficult to accept women as their boss. There are also those who need a wife with less skill and payment than himself. Our country will take a long time to get out of the patriarchal society. It has been only 5-6 years that the rate of female infanticide has decreased slightly. There should be love, compassion, and responsibility in the journey from boyhood to manhood.

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  1. Bitch Management

    “The Way Men Are Raised Perpetuates Patriarchy And Toxic Masculinity”
    And most Men have been raised by single mothers who fought for sole custody over the past 40 yrs. Let me guess, Women are not accountable for how Men have been raised. It’s never their own fault. Gotcha.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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