“It is not that Men have no problems”, a friend remarked when his partner said that he is a ‘wimp’ because he cries. He then asked us, ‘what if I don’t cry? Won’ that be insensitive of me? What if I prefer cooking over cricket? What if I like pink over blue? What if I don’t want to be a ‘BOY’?
This statement brought a dead silence for a second and a lively discussion thereafter.
We decided to look what it means to be a Boy/Girl, Male/Female and Masculine/Feminine literally. Collin’s Thesaurus has the following equivalent of masculine- Brave, Bold, Manly, Virile, Male, Hardy. WOW!!! Now that is what is a ‘REAL MAN’!!! Biologically, we are male or female. But, society makes as masculine or feminine. And then we realized that there has been a difference in the way we play, eat, dress, talk and live our lives depending on our ‘gender identity’.
“Oh, yes! I never got to play the kitchen set like you did, but I remember accompanying my elder sister from school daily”, claimed one male in the group.
“When my brother had girls as friends, he was seen to be amicable, but when I had boys as friends, I was scolded”, said the girl.
This difference in our nurturing accentuates as we grow in our relationships. Each of us look for ‘dream girls’ and ‘dream boys’ which actually is the socially created image of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ individuals around us. Several amongst us then struggle to fit in this accepted mould of social identities. But, for many amongst us, it is actually a different struggle. The struggle for their identity, the struggle of being what they want to be and not what the majority accepts. They struggle to customize the mould according to their choice. And this is the struggle that has to be won.
Choices and Opportunities have to be equal. For many women it is a struggle daily to confirm to the socially accepted femininity which bears a direct impact on their livelihoods, education, choice of marriage, child birth etc. At the same time, men undergo constant pressure to earn more, act bravely and be intellectuals and decision makers.
This difference which leads to discrimination is violence. It is violence if an individual is under constant pressure to look ‘good’, it is violence if one is not given the choice to walk in the park in the dark, it is violence if one is expected to do only certain kinds of jobs and not others, it is violence if one is forced to be married, it is violence if one is forced to be heterosexual.
And suddenly, we saw the commercial ad playing on the screen which promoted, “If it irritates you, change it”. Yes, change begins from us.
Men will say no to the accepted forms of masculinity and patriarchy. Men will say No to violence against them. Men will say No to violence against women. It is not about ‘us’ and ‘them’. It is about being humans with equal rights. We all agreed, we need to act and the act begins from within.