Male feminism: Yes, a concept like that does exist. An oxymoron like that does sound odd, doesn't it? These two words are rarely used together in a sentence. Of course, we will often use the phrase ‘feminism means we are against males'. But looking at the problems that we face today, I think we need to discuss a concept called ‘male feminism'. Only then can we create a better tomorrow for our women.
One of the major challenges that plague Indians these days is ‘patriarchy’. This concept of patriarchy is often ignored or brushed under the carpet - else it is imposed on us.
I have had the privilege of becoming friends with an active feminist. I went on to date her and finally ended up marrying her.
She has been instrumental in shaping my thoughts, beliefs and overall attitude towards gender and sexuality.
Women alone do not suffer because of a concept like ‘patriarchy'. Young men too suffer due to this. Let me justify my statement. For instance: A college guy loves to date and associate with a ‘modern’ girl who parties, drinks and is obviously good looking.
He is looking for validation from his friends when he does all this. But the minute a concept like ‘marriage’ is discussed, he will search for a homely, non-drinking, non-working girl.
For some strange reason, he will want a well-educated woman who fits all the criteria above. We want to gain approval from our parents and also from our ever prying relatives.
Maybe that is why men often feel they are trapped in a marriage. Instead of finding a friend for life, they end up finding a perfect addition to their families. He actually needs a perfect partner for himself but he ends up finding a perfect ‘daughter-in-law’ for his family.
I am not against arranged marriages. I am against patriarchy and the ripple effect that it has on our society. The definition of patriarchy is often skewed and is against men. But as a man, I find that people assume/expect many things from a man. I have a problem when people presume that I should (be) :
- The boss of the house.
- A better driver than my wife.
- Know everything about electrical wiring and engineering.
- Know the directions to any place in the world.
- Earn more than my wife.
- The sole provider of my family.
- Pay the bill when the waiter hands me the cheque. Why do they always give the cheque to the man?
- Pay the cab driver always.
I have a problem with patriarchy. Period. My partner earns more than me and I am proud about it too.
I borrow money from her with as much ease as I ask her to cook a meal for me.
We believe that our friends and partners for life will be Batman and Bruce Wayne. In any relationship, we feel that one person has to make way for the other. We feel that one partner needs to lose his/her identity for the other to rise.
We forget that we can coexist together if we can let go of our intrinsic patriarchal notions. We don’t become less human when we ask for directions from the ‘fairer sex’. What is the harm in asking a woman for her opinion? In fact, it makes us more human when we do so. It is time we changed our mentalities. ‘Swachh Bharat’ is not only for the roads. We need to remove the cobwebs from our mind and rectify our archaic thinking.
We may have umpteen laws in our country but will that change the way we think?
I will very bluntly state that: NO, men and women are not treated equally right now. Women have been getting a raw deal for ages. We have definitely started talking about it. But that is just about what we have done so far. There is no tangible change in our behaviour towards women. We continue to witness brutal gang rapes. Harassment at workplaces and molestation in homes happens every day.
We may follow all the laws of our constitution but we will continue to discriminate against women using age, creed and caste as our tools. No woman is spared from being judged. Men feel it is perfectly fine to call women names or shame women publicly. We have seen such things happen for ages and we know we can continue to get away with it. It’s almost funny that we need a law to tell us that we should not exploit women in our workplaces.
That in itself speaks volumes about how deeply ingrained the concept of patriarchy is in the minds of our so-called white collared society.
We belong to an extremely tech-savvy generation. But our notions are still at the MS-DOS level. We need to upgrade our software so that we behave like humans again.
Curbing the identity of a woman is like trapping a bird in a cage. You may stop her from soaring in the skies, but you cannot make her forget the art of flying. Please also understand that you are not ‘allowing’ her to fly. Neither is it your duty or obligation to do so. She was born to fly and she will do just that with or without your permission.
The destination is far away. The journey is arduous. But we need to embark on this journey at the earliest. Let's take small steps like asking a woman for help when we are in a fix. Let's refrain from abusing them. We should respect all women at all times ( and not just outside temples). Let's not pass casual jokes about them. I'm sure this will speed up the process. We know we are living in tough times. What looks idealistic may not be realistic and what is real has not been idealistic - so far.
So, we need to bridge this divide - not to create a better tomorrow but an awesome today.