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!
The adjectives most commonly associated with men are: fixers, providers, tough, fearless and the tag of “men don’t cry”. Ugh! How detestable this quote is. I really don’t get why crying is associated with being unmanly and effeminate. Sensitivity, compassion, feelings emotions are not gender-specific, but something that make us humans. Animals don’t feel such gigantic abstractness, do they?
Mental health issues have always been the prime target of the society we live in. Above those, the issue of men’s mental health is regarded as unreal and unacceptable. According to the Mental Health Foundation, men are less likely to access psychological therapy than women. Gender stereotypes have existed for both men and women, but men’s mental health has been overlooked under the panorama of societal norms and deeply cultivated traditions around gender roles and behaviour.
What we see and what we hear impacts us in a lot of different ways. Cinema has been one of the greatest reasons for setting bizarre standards for men and women. The hero fights a large crowd of goons, unarmed. The man of the house protects his family and earns for them, while the woman in the movies just gets happily married to the man, without having achieved her any of her own career goals or dreams. Disrespect and violence due to aggression among men is portrayed as normal and is justified as their characteristic.
If a man cares too much for their partner, they get labelled as ‘SIMP’. If they like to do makeup, they face homophobic slurs. The colour of his clothes should not be “pink” and the prints on his clothes should not be flowery. He has to have taste for action-packed movies and not melodramatic or romantic movies. We are so used to living around these stereotypes that we don’t see them as a problem. Unfortunately, we all are unknowingly a part of this unhealthy pigeon hole.
The quote that I think fits in the frame of real men is:
“The stronger a man is, the more gentle he can afford to be.”―