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!
A man has to earn money by any means. If he fails to do so, then he has no value in this world. Society labels him as a failure and no one will marry him. There is nothing like unconditional love for men, he can be loved only at the cost that he provides something.
This is the harsh truth for men in India.
All things have to be done with a smile on the face, without feeling any stress, depression, anxiety, or phobia. Especially phobia, how can a man have fear of something? No, he can’t get afraid of cockroaches, lizards, dogs or heights, etc.
Unnecessary societal pressure on a person, whether men or women, push a person towards suicide and crimes. The male suicide rate in India is 25.8/100000 Man.
The toxic conditioning of men begins with their families.
In my opinion, a man in India has to behave like a man otherwise he will be considered a woman. And what is the behaviour of man? It’s aggressive, violent, using abusive words in every sentence, and physical strength. This physical strength is not for any Olympic game but street fighting, fighting with other boys to impress a girl in college, during rallies or politician’s roadshows, and risky activities like overspeeding. Addiction is also an issue that men face.
For example, a boy is expected to play Holi with colours, pick up and throw people in the mud, and forcefully applying colours to others. If he doesn’t do this and stay inside, he will be considered a girl. Everyone will make fun of him including friends, and family members.
If society says the opposite of this behaviour is feminine, then everyone should gain feminine qualities for a better and peaceful society. Men have historically been expected to fight in wars and protect society, which might be a reason for their behaviour today. You may call it “toxic masculinity“, a trending word being discussed in feminist thought.
However, we also can’t ignore the societal conditioning of men done that is toxic, it also includes lack of emotional care, ignorance of abuse on men (physical, drug, or psychosocial), high expectations, lack of sex education, and avoiding “inappropriate” discussions in the family.
So, we should take proper steps to change men’s behaviour instead of cursing them, and if we continue to push them in the wrong way, this behaviour is not going to be end soon.
A man’s masculinity is measured based on his sexual process, wealth, behaviour, and “success.” Everything from what he wears to how he urinates is seen as a measure of masculinity.
It’s difficult to find articles, poems, and writings about the struggle of men belonging to Bihar who leave their home at an early age in search of work. Every year millions of migrant workers come from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Northeast states to Haryana, Punjab, and Maharashtra for labour work.
They do difficult tasks, risking their lives, and many times they get a severe permanent bodily injury, there is no special quota for them, no Medical service, no compensation, no job security, no education, no insurance, etc.
They do all things at a cheaper cost.
When boys go to college for higher studies, they have to go whether they are rich or poor, usually, if a girl belongs to a poor family, their families get her married and send her to the In-laws home instead of an educational institution. I am not supporting this, But for a boy, he has to go for studies because getting a job is his life goal.
Otherwise, he can’t get married, And when they go to college, they find some people are rich, some are poor, there are people of different varieties, and it’s very difficult for poor boys to survive in college. Many have to eat barely anything the whole day to save money and survive.
Conversations around mental health are sorely missing in male peer groups.
Whenever a man talks about a relationship, the automatic reaction of his male peers is to ask “have you had sex“? Noo! you have been in the relationship for a year yet you haven’t had sex, shame on you, go and die somewhere, she will leave you if you don’t do this.
Does no one ask about love and mutual respect? Do you listen to her advice? If a boy decides according to her girlfriend’s advice because he finds this advice useful then his friends call him ‘gulam‘(slave) of her.
If a boy cries for any reason then people laugh at him, and will say why are you crying like a girl? Real men don’t cry.
It seems true that real men don’t cry! Because India is not a place where a man can express his emotions, and if you are in a state like Haryana, No way at all. You have to be hard, you have to be strong, I am not saying that a man should always cry about his problems, No! He should deal with it, but he has a heart that has emotions, then he should express it.
Every man must have emotions and must be sensitive about the poverty, misery, and pain in this world. Every man should be open about Menstruation, breastfeeding, and pregnancy. Every man should watch the delivery of the baby. Every man should participate in household chores. Every boy should be allowed to play and study along with girls in school.
Men should be open to LGBTQIA+ issues. All these things don’t make their heart weak. These will make them sensitive. Sensitive about the world. More realistic and understanding about the truths of this world, because this is the truth, not a fairytale.
What’s A Man?
So the next time his daughter will say I have periods, he will not avoid the conversation. He will think a thousand times before saying to his wife about what work she does at home all day?
He will not stare at women.
He will not raise his eyebrows when women start breastfeeding in public.
He won’t ostracize his queer friends.
He will express his emotions freely without being judged.
People always say be responsible, be a man. But first, explain how to be a man. What’s their exact responsibility and how to decide their responsibilities? Is this just earning money?
Family and society put so much pressure on men by calling it responsibility, but there is a huge difference between responsibility and burden.
As a society, we should understand that men and women are neither similar nor different, they are unique in their own sense, so don’t make norms by considering one sex, it can be good for one sex but can be a burden for another. So we should think equally without being biased for any gender.
Awareness of anything is a good thing for society, whether it’s Breast cancer or Prostate cancer. Both have screening tests for early diagnosis and prompt treatment. The mental health conditions of men have none.