Patriarchy. That’s the word feminists use all the time to highlight how society favours men over women, no? But as a guy, why should you care? Patriarchy works out fine for men, doesn’t it? Not really. Here are three ways in which you are suffering because of your male privilege.
1. You Cannot Grow Into Your Own Person
In the name of culture and tradition, females all over India are conditioned, coerced and shamed into living by society’s sexist code. But did you know that backward social norms don’t just box us in, they severely limit males as well?
For example, the person who believes that a woman’s place is in the kitchen thinks that it is a woman’s duty to cook. And they also think that a man who cooks is not “manly” enough. This quickly extends to all aspects of life and leaves you with few choices – from the career you choose to the financial decisions you make.
Naturally, you want to be accepted by society. So you conform to traditional gender roles, pick a stable – albeit dull – job, pursue acceptable hobbies, etc. In an age where women are beginning to get appreciation for shattering gender stereotypes, why are you getting little to no support for the same?
2. You Are Denied Your Right to the Human Emotional Range
Right from toddlerhood, we are taught to emote as per toxic stereotypes of what society has deemed ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’.
Girls are raised to smile more and talk less, and be submissive and tolerant in general. On the other hand, boys are encouraged to be loud and dominant beings that solve all their issues via aggression. The result: while girls are in touch with the gamut of emotions, boys basically know only anger and silence. And that is a shame, because men have a variety of feelings as well. The only reason they cannot express them is because doing so is considered unmanly, reserved only for the weaker sex.
Little boys everywhere are conditioned to be stoic via repetitive statements like ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘man up’. Instead of letting them address their emotions, they are compelled to ignore them for life. Guys who don’t do so are laughed off as effeminate and not taken seriously. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could express yourself without such consequences?
3. You Get Little Legal or Emotional Support for Sexual Abuse
Rape has nothing to do with gender. Males get sexually violated too and they feel just as traumatised and responsible as females. But how many of these crimes do we hear of in the media; in fact, how many get reported? Male victims often don’t speak about their violation because if they did, they would be mocked, called weak, or accused of being a homosexual who enjoyed the act. To avoid judgment and character assassination, they suffer in silence.
As a result, we assume that males are shielded from sexual abuse simply because of their gender. However, according to a 2007 report by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, approximately 57% of children are sexually abused, and 54% of those children are male. In 2012, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was passed to ensure the safety of girls and boys under 18. But till date, there is no law to protect adult men.
In fact, male rape is not even identified as rape, it is termed sodomy instead. Why is justice and support largely a female victim’s prerogative?
Let’s recap: you cannot make authentic life decisions, you cannot express yourself, and you can’t even complain when you get sexually assaulted. What you get instead is the “coveted” role of being the primary breadwinner with bottled up emotions and questionable morals. I have just one question to ask: Do you realise you are a victim of patriarchy too? Are you finally angry now? Angry enough to do something about it? I certainly hope so. Because at the end of the day, patriarchy hurts both men and women.
(Mahevash Shaikh is the author of ‘Busting Clichés’. You can find her using words and pictures to express herself and redefine the word “normal” at www.mahevashmuses.com)
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