It’s hard to reckon that the men in our society, could also be potential victims of assaults, tortures, defamations, false accusations, and wrongful convictions. Why? Because India is still a majorly patriarchal society where men hold the baton, unfortunately. It is therefore unsettling to agree that these men could be vulnerable too. The thoughts of these men being oppressed rather than being the oppressor are cliched.
Classically, women had always been under the social scanner. And that’s fundamentally wrong.
- Are they fair-skinned?
- Can they bear a healthy child? A male child?
- Can they be a good mother?
- Can they keep the in-laws happy?
Well, times are fast-changing; at least in the urban landscape. The notions of gender equality and women empowerment are emerging buzz words. These are signs of a progressive society which is great.
The Performance Pressure Cooker – Not Just a Women Issue
Here’s the Twist. Men have also been subjected to the performance pressure cooker. Especially men who honoured and addressed their responsibilities dictated by that same patriarchal society.
While male-dominated patriarchal society has been condemned, this same society has imposed mountains of responsibilities on men. Especially the ones who cared to honor their role as the bread-earners and protectors. Meeting social expectations and pseudo-standards is a daunting task.
- How much do you earn? Where do you work?
- Your friend/ cousin/ brother is an engineer, doctor, businessman. What did you do so far?
- Do you earn enough to keep the lady happy?
- Such short height? And dark-skinned? My daughter is fair and beautiful.
- Did you ever travel abroad? How long did you stay?
- Do you own an apartment and a fancy car by 40?
For example, the Bengali marriage vow typically highlights the age-old sentiment when bridegroom promises to take full responsibility of his wife’s “Bhaat” (Food) and “Kapor” (Clothes).
Men and their merit get judged based their on their income, bank balance, spending capacity, how they dress, talk, how well they balance the wife Vs. mother equation and everything else. They are expected to carry a bank statement and character certificate while wooing a girl for marriage. Men are expected to be fun and cool, while planning for a secured future. They are expected to earn enough to afford designer dresses and makeup kits, while the wife gets busy making lame TikTok videos. At the end of it all, we aren’t really complaining. The patriarchal society has engineered us to adapt and scale up depending upon situations.
The problem is, when the country witnesses an incident of women assault and conveniently brands all men as vultures and predators. That isn’t fair, I feel.
What We Need is a Gender-Neutral Society
Gender neutrality is what we need. Any rules, practices and myths specific to gender should be wiped off. There’s nothing wrong in men cleaning dishes and changing diapers. Similarly, the women of today take pride in paying off bills and heading out on solo road trips.