The manliness of men is just meaningless when the reason for his manliness is to be a man.
That was my lame attempt to be a poet but jokes apart, what it takes to be a man?
Maybe the Y chromosome is enough. For the people who do not know what is a Y-chromosome; it is the genetic material that makes a male child.
You have to be bold enough to be a gentleman around the ladies, not only pretty ladies but around every woman. You can seem manly enough to build a solid chest or keep a mustache.
But what makes a man manly?
That’s a question you should be manly enough to answer but what I want to focus on, is the toxic masculinity on this planet.
As I live in India, a developing country with a population of 1.35 billion people, of which 532 million people are men. Toxic masculinity is a topic that should be discussed and men have to take active part in it.
Toxic Masculinity in India
‘You are privileged enough if you are born in India as a male.’
I have said it. No coming back.
That privilege you enjoy while being a man is not to be confused with the privilege that women enjoy getting anything easily because of their gender.
The preference of a male child at birth has killed millions of female foeticides and those who do survive mostly are undernourished and are neglected. Though some positive changes have been observed in this recent times but the prevalence of a male child at birth can be still seen among the people.
The men who enjoy these privileges of being a man are always out of the question as to why gendered violence is so dominant in this country. Male behavior is always taken in a form of fun and games as the popular slogan goes, ‘Men will be men’. These ideologies give them a secure place to commit gendered violence or to get away after doing something that shouldn’t be done.
When you are born a male, you just acquire a set of entitlements that you never sign for.
1. Higher education is a must for you; For a girl, it could mean that her parents are progressive enough to teach her.
2. Men being ‘career-centric’ and ‘selfish’ are necessary to achieve a higher post; A girl doing the same is termed materialistic.
3. A man sleeping with many women is termed as a ‘Stud‘; same activities repeated by a woman, society tags her ‘Slut’.
4. Men can move around anyplace in any given point of time but the time constraint of women are strictly monitored as they cannot be moving around at an ungodly hour.
Men can wear anything they like and no judgement pass; ‘You are looking like a slut, lady! Wear something decent.’ You ladies must have heard something like this in your years of being ‘modestly dressed’ to appear ‘less sexy’, so that you are exempted from eve-teasing or molestation or rape.
These are many minor, surface-level discrimination, floating in the vast Indian sea of gendered inequality.
Coming to the question of why Indian men are so unevenly taught about masculinity?
The most important reason for having a preference for a boy child is the fact that he will look after them when they will be old.
The girl will be a waste of money as they have to feed her and teach her to eventually marry her off. So, the preference for a male child over a female child is dominant.
How society molds the perception of being a man?
1. The boy growing up is taught how to be competitive enough to be at the top of their fields. It doesn’t matter if they have to be ruthless and emotionless to carry on these pursuits.
2. They are taught ‘Not-to-cry’ and crying is a girly thing to do.
3. Stalking and teasing have been popularized by our Bollywood to that extent that boys often take that ‘No as a Yes’. The girl denying their proposal often has to be convinced because if Shah Rukh Khan can do it, why can’t I?
4. Rapes are often justified as to if the woman was wearing clothes that aroused the men’s moral senses then as Babulal Gaur from the BJP, held rape as “Sometimes Wrong and Sometimes Right”.
5. Men are taught to be supportive and disciplined and protective. They are expected to ‘Protect’ their families and ‘Violence’ is a part of being protective. So, a brother beating his sister or a group of family members beating their daughter is justifiable in the eyes of the society if she has done something that is not acceptable to them.
6. Boys are conditioned to become rich, well-mannered, be at the top of their league and to take care of their families.
These toxic expectations often develop an unemotional side in them.
Heading down to the last part of this ongoing toxic manliness, we shouldn’t be teaching the kids as to how a man has to behave.
A man can cry. It is okay to cry.
A man can be emotional. It is normal to tell your feelings.
Manliness is not how big of a man you are but how can you submit to others that it takes a lot more to be a man rather than showing off your big muscles with wide mustaches and eve-teasing girls, sitting on your bikes with cigarettes in your mouth and love letters in your pocket.
Akash Rout is a jolly old fella who writes non-fiction as well as fiction. He is known for his rebellious yet subtle form of satires and humor. An aspiring stand-up comic with a science background. So, give him a break, will you!