Be a Man

August 22, 2015 Written By Sakshi Jerath

Gender is a social construct and patriarchy is a system of social ‘cohesion’ which creates binaries and norms leading to the oppression of ‘the genders’.What needs to be made very clear is that patriarchy does oppress men as well; feminists aren’t against men, feminists fight against patriarchy- a system where gender roles are assigned and normalized.

What I find astounding about our world is that we tell women to strive to be like men as a push towards gender equality. However, men aren’t free beings who can be set up as role models in an attempt to reach equal opportunity in terms of gender. To be a ‘Man’ requires a test of skills and stealth, which when a male is unable to acquire leads him to be shunned, ridiculed and ‘emasculated’. It’s very difficult to approach the subject without stepping on some toes, but I really would like to try.

Patriarchy divides  people into two categories based on their sex (When I say two, it has to be kept in mind that those that don’t identify with these two sexes are thus excluded from the pack i.e. othered/marginalized in the patriarchal order) These categories come with the construction of the two genders, the genders are defined and definitions, as we are aware, create boundaries.  Therefore, that which is outside the defined(limited) area does not conform to the norm. People have often confused the norm with the natural, I have to point out that norms are culturally constructed and we can go on questioning what is natural to that effect. But for now let’s ‘define’ ‘natural’ as that which preexisted human intervention and ‘cultural’ as its antithesis.

Men are not free.

Women are not free.

People who identify as anything other than Men and Women are not free.

But let’s discuss the male sex, the one with the phallus, the one expected to use the phallus as a symbol of power, the one that is socialized into agreeing with the system of normative existence and made to believe that he is free and he is superior to all those that do not display certain ‘manly’ categories.

I’m surprised that sirens don’t go off in the minds of people when someone talks about ‘manliness’. The debate over patriarchal masculinity/manliness goes on to talk about the promise of privilege, power and status. However, there is another side- men are forced to act, think and react a certain way which in turn is the road to “masculine prestige”. It is assumed that this is the way men are, which is a falsity since the image of ‘Man’ is constructed and propagated as a tool of effective socialization. Thus an assumed position of men is created in society leading to the suffocation of the person behind the gender. He is forced to move within the defined ideal of ‘man’; He is ridiculed, punished and jeered at for deviating from the normative. These rigid identities might further instigate the person to prove his dominance. The patriarchal gaze that we all hate so much is born through oppression; patriarchy doesn’t put a group of people as dominant over another, it creates a gender bias and gives it power over the other as long as it persists to follow certain rules. A very rudimentary example of the same is that when a woman chooses not to go out and work, it is considered absolutely okay, often encouraged; but it is considered to be a matter of shame when a man decides to stay at home and perhaps take care of the house. Such gender binaries that are created lead to further distancing of the genders.

The constructed ‘ideal’ of masculinity must be deconstructed and rebuilt with the goal towards equality. Agency needs to be given back not only to women but also to men, to realize that there isn’t a natural domineering order; that gender, to begin with is not a hierarchical structure unless made to be, that one does not need to pretend to be someone else or be forced to take up positions because of the gender they identify with.

Image Source

So the next time someone tells you to ‘be a man’, it is your right to question the premise of what it means to be man and to deconstruct the ideals attached to the gender.

Be a Man

August 22, 2015 Written By Sakshi Jerath

Gender is a social construct and patriarchy is a system of social ‘cohesion’ which creates binaries and norms leading to the oppression of ‘the genders’.What needs to be made very clear is that patriarchy does oppress men as well; feminists aren’t against men, feminists fight against patriarchy- a system where gender roles are assigned and normalized.

What I find astounding about our world is that we tell women to strive to be like men as a push towards gender equality. However, men aren’t free beings who can be set up as role models in an attempt to reach equal opportunity in terms of gender. To be a ‘Man’ requires a test of skills and stealth, which when a male is unable to acquire leads him to be shunned, ridiculed and ‘emasculated’. It’s very difficult to approach the subject without stepping on some toes, but I really would like to try.

Patriarchy divides  people into two categories based on their sex (When I say two, it has to be kept in mind that those that don’t identify with these two sexes are thus excluded from the pack i.e. othered/marginalized in the patriarchal order) These categories come with the construction of the two genders, the genders are defined and definitions, as we are aware, create boundaries.  Therefore, that which is outside the defined(limited) area does not conform to the norm. People have often confused the norm with the natural, I have to point out that norms are culturally constructed and we can go on questioning what is natural to that effect. But for now let’s ‘define’ ‘natural’ as that which preexisted human intervention and ‘cultural’ as its antithesis.

Men are not free.

Women are not free.

People who identify as anything other than Men and Women are not free.

But let’s discuss the male sex, the one with the phallus, the one expected to use the phallus as a symbol of power, the one that is socialized into agreeing with the system of normative existence and made to believe that he is free and he is superior to all those that do not display certain ‘manly’ categories.

I’m surprised that sirens don’t go off in the minds of people when someone talks about ‘manliness’. The debate over patriarchal masculinity/manliness goes on to talk about the promise of privilege, power and status. However, there is another side- men are forced to act, think and react a certain way which in turn is the road to “masculine prestige”. It is assumed that this is the way men are, which is a falsity since the image of ‘Man’ is constructed and propagated as a tool of effective socialization. Thus an assumed position of men is created in society leading to the suffocation of the person behind the gender. He is forced to move within the defined ideal of ‘man’; He is ridiculed, punished and jeered at for deviating from the normative. These rigid identities might further instigate the person to prove his dominance. The patriarchal gaze that we all hate so much is born through oppression; patriarchy doesn’t put a group of people as dominant over another, it creates a gender bias and gives it power over the other as long as it persists to follow certain rules. A very rudimentary example of the same is that when a woman chooses not to go out and work, it is considered absolutely okay, often encouraged; but it is considered to be a matter of shame when a man decides to stay at home and perhaps take care of the house. Such gender binaries that are created lead to further distancing of the genders.

The constructed ‘ideal’ of masculinity must be deconstructed and rebuilt with the goal towards equality. Agency needs to be given back not only to women but also to men, to realize that there isn’t a natural domineering order; that gender, to begin with is not a hierarchical structure unless made to be, that one does not need to pretend to be someone else or be forced to take up positions because of the gender they identify with.

Image Source

So the next time someone tells you to ‘be a man’, it is your right to question the premise of what it means to be man and to deconstruct the ideals attached to the gender.

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