The conversations around Women’s Day are divided between two extreme schools of thoughts. The first one believes in celebrating womanhood and the other one argues why we should dedicate just one day to women. And well, I don’t identify with any of these extremes and hence, I am penning down my thoughts about how this Women’s Day, we need to free men from their outdated model of masculinity.
Have we forgotten men?
You might call me names for making even Women’s Day about men, given we are living in a patriarchal society. But after reading Michael Ian Black’s article, ‘The Boys Are Not All Right’, published in The New York Times, I couldn’t help but discuss a problem we seem loathe to even identify. While we’ve spent years empowering women all around the globe, we’ve forgotten men on our way and that’s what needs to change.
Black wrote, “I used to have this one-liner: ‘If you want to emasculate a guy friend, when you’re at a restaurant, ask him everything that he’s going to order, and then when the waitress comes…order for him.’ It’s funny because it shouldn’t be that easy to rob a man of his masculinity – but it is.”
Femininity Vs Masculinity: An Ideological War
The way the idea of femininity has evolved over the past decades, the idea of masculinity hasn’t and that’s a bigger problem than we can even imagine. Whenever we come across an atrocity in our society, we talk about how we need to work at grassroots levels and change the mindsets of people towards women, but almost never towards men. There are conversations focused on men too, but tell me something, how often do these conversations turn into action? Rarely, right? Or as Black likes to put it, “No commensurate movement has emerged to help them (men) navigate toward a full expression of their gender. It’s no longer enough to ‘be a man’ — we no longer even know what that means.” It’s the most grieving truth of the 21st century and well, there’s nothing we are doing to change it.
The Outdated Model Of Masculinity
To make it clear, let’s start with what exactly we mean when we say, the outdated model of masculinity. If you ask anyone, they’ll automatically relate it to manliness, which is often measured in terms of a man’s strength, bravery and endurance. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that exactly what you thought too? Unfortunately, that’s where the problem begins. We’ve set a rigid definition for every man to fit in on our way to let women break free and fly. But who will free the men who are still stuck in the age-old model of masculinity?
There are millions of people like you and I, who respect and strive for a feminist society. People who are more helpful towards a woman’s problems, towards her feelings, towards her being and while we need to keep doing that, we need to be compassionate towards men too.
If we encourage women to take up male-dominant professions, we should encourage men to take up female-dominant professions as well. If we tell men to embrace body positivity towards their partners, we need to ensure we convey the same to women too. If we tell women to break gender-stereotypes like, “Women can’t drive,” we need to tell men to break gender-stereotypes like, “Boys don’t cry” too. While we are in full form to push women towards a better future, we are failing to do that to the men in our lives.
There’s a wave of hatred towards women who stand for their rights and that wave is driven because no one is paying attention to men. And so the men who are considerate towards gender-related issues are confused. They are confused and anxious. They have a battle to fight to protect the women in their lives, but they need to know that they have to protect themselves too. More often than not, a man never consciously believes that he is succumbing to the rigid model of masculinity because of our societal conditioning and it’s high time we realise this.
This Women’s Day, let’s take a pledge and make this world a better place for both women and men. This Women’s Day, let’s make it a point to let men break free from the chains of masculinity. This Women’s Day, let’s let men be themselves, without any gender-specific norms.
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