Fe-men-ism

October 12, 2015 Written By Harnidh Kaur

A lot of men have asked me why feminism is something they should be bothered with. Ignoring the moderately problematic fact that men consider themselves the centerpieces of the universe and can’t fathom the fact that someone, or something, might not have them as a crux of its existence, let’s talk about why, indeed, feminism in important for men.

It seems like the word ‘feminism’ conveys the idea of femininity, and of course, that would explain why men shirk from it like it harms them. ‘Feminine’ is term that encompasses every single thing men have been told is below, and hence beyond, their range of emotions and expressions. That doesn’t sound too terrible, until we think of WHAT that entails.

Let’s talk statistics. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s 2013 survey,79,773 men committed suicide in India (excluding West Bengal). Interestingly, while around 40% of the reasons cited were socio-economic concerns, the others were marked as ‘unidentified’. Even in death, these men couldn’t speak up. Why? What exactly is the problem here?

To crudely simplify it, the problem is that men are told, in unequivocal terms, that they shouldn’t  speak up. The expression of emotions is seen as the domain of women, and that’s about it. While popular perception categorizes men as merely the ‘propagators’ of patriarchy, it fails to realize the fact that men are, in fact, victims of the same too. Patriarchy isn’t a sword wielded by men. It’s an insidious, convoluted system that has stratified, and has poisoned perspectives and relational balances.

The fact that men are equal stakeholders in the feminist movement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the fact that they aren’t only allies, but direct beneficiaries, is something that needs to be underlined. Feminists, as a whole, consider men to be more than the sum of their base desires that are immediately acted upon. Patriarchy glorifies the idea of violence and sexual aggression, and a narrow tunnel vision of what masculinity entails. Feminism, on the other hand, wants and needs men to understand that they are much more. They’re nuanced, emotional creatures with a duty to themselves, and their social support structures, to try and consciously break the shackles of conditioning they have been tied down with.

It is easy to ask why men deserve a place at the very heart of the feminist movement, considering that they are, indeed, the single most privileged strata of society. The answer is just as easy. It isn’t  ‘us versus them’. There is no ‘us’, and definitely no ‘them’. By including men in the feminist fold, we’re creating a kinder, softer world that’s all-inclusive. It will allow for a more holistic ideal, and thus a more cohesive world order. 

This does not, in any way, diminish the place women hold in the movement. Feminism is a complex, transsectional, and overarching movement that fosters, nurtures, and celebrates various points of view. It’s not limited in the number of people it can include. If anything, the more supporters it has, the better it will thrive. The best way to do that is to comprehensively integrate men into it.

Men are dying, quite literally in some cases, for a chance to talk. We’ve created a world (yes, we, since we’ve stereotyped men so completely) where men don’t have a single safe space where they feel like they’re not judged. The idea of stoicism and silence as strength has been glorified so completely, that the expression of any weakness is taken as an attack on the collective psyche of masculinity. 

Image Source

 

It’s terrifying, and it’s destructive, and it’s time we addressed this.

Boy//Man

I met a little boy once, and

he had the prettiest eyes I

had ever seen, so I told him

so in as many words, and he

looked up at me with anger

That belied his age, and shone

through him in the way he said,

“Boys aren’t pretty, girls are.”

That little boy grew up just

a bit, and could create magic

with a little bit of flour, and

a lot of skill, and when I asked

him why he never took the

cupcakes he baked for me on

lazy Saturday afternoons, to

school for his friends to eat,

he looked at me with scorn that

flooded his eyes, and stung,

only to say, “Only girls bake,

I just do it for you.”

Eventually,

he grew up into a young man,

and he fell in love with a woman

who broke his heart, and I could

hear him sobbing at night, and

the tear stained pillows left a

trail of his pain in the laundry

basket, and when I asked him if

I could ease it somehow, he

lashed out at me, and said, “Men

don’t cry, and you know that.”

I kept quiet, though his pain was

mine, for I wasn’t supposed to

question his ideas of what a boy,

man, son, father, husband, friend,

lover, uncle, were supposed to

be, but I wish I could, because I

could see the red gashes running

up his thighs and wrists, and I

knew before I asked him, that he’d

say, “You’re silly. Men don’t get sad.”

Fe-men-ism

October 12, 2015 Written By Harnidh Kaur

A lot of men have asked me why feminism is something they should be bothered with. Ignoring the moderately problematic fact that men consider themselves the centerpieces of the universe and can’t fathom the fact that someone, or something, might not have them as a crux of its existence, let’s talk about why, indeed, feminism in important for men.

It seems like the word ‘feminism’ conveys the idea of femininity, and of course, that would explain why men shirk from it like it harms them. ‘Feminine’ is term that encompasses every single thing men have been told is below, and hence beyond, their range of emotions and expressions. That doesn’t sound too terrible, until we think of WHAT that entails.

Let’s talk statistics. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s 2013 survey,79,773 men committed suicide in India (excluding West Bengal). Interestingly, while around 40% of the reasons cited were socio-economic concerns, the others were marked as ‘unidentified’. Even in death, these men couldn’t speak up. Why? What exactly is the problem here?

To crudely simplify it, the problem is that men are told, in unequivocal terms, that they shouldn’t  speak up. The expression of emotions is seen as the domain of women, and that’s about it. While popular perception categorizes men as merely the ‘propagators’ of patriarchy, it fails to realize the fact that men are, in fact, victims of the same too. Patriarchy isn’t a sword wielded by men. It’s an insidious, convoluted system that has stratified, and has poisoned perspectives and relational balances.

The fact that men are equal stakeholders in the feminist movement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the fact that they aren’t only allies, but direct beneficiaries, is something that needs to be underlined. Feminists, as a whole, consider men to be more than the sum of their base desires that are immediately acted upon. Patriarchy glorifies the idea of violence and sexual aggression, and a narrow tunnel vision of what masculinity entails. Feminism, on the other hand, wants and needs men to understand that they are much more. They’re nuanced, emotional creatures with a duty to themselves, and their social support structures, to try and consciously break the shackles of conditioning they have been tied down with.

It is easy to ask why men deserve a place at the very heart of the feminist movement, considering that they are, indeed, the single most privileged strata of society. The answer is just as easy. It isn’t  ‘us versus them’. There is no ‘us’, and definitely no ‘them’. By including men in the feminist fold, we’re creating a kinder, softer world that’s all-inclusive. It will allow for a more holistic ideal, and thus a more cohesive world order. 

This does not, in any way, diminish the place women hold in the movement. Feminism is a complex, transsectional, and overarching movement that fosters, nurtures, and celebrates various points of view. It’s not limited in the number of people it can include. If anything, the more supporters it has, the better it will thrive. The best way to do that is to comprehensively integrate men into it.

Men are dying, quite literally in some cases, for a chance to talk. We’ve created a world (yes, we, since we’ve stereotyped men so completely) where men don’t have a single safe space where they feel like they’re not judged. The idea of stoicism and silence as strength has been glorified so completely, that the expression of any weakness is taken as an attack on the collective psyche of masculinity. 

Image Source

 

It’s terrifying, and it’s destructive, and it’s time we addressed this.

Boy//Man

I met a little boy once, and

he had the prettiest eyes I

had ever seen, so I told him

so in as many words, and he

looked up at me with anger

That belied his age, and shone

through him in the way he said,

“Boys aren’t pretty, girls are.”

That little boy grew up just

a bit, and could create magic

with a little bit of flour, and

a lot of skill, and when I asked

him why he never took the

cupcakes he baked for me on

lazy Saturday afternoons, to

school for his friends to eat,

he looked at me with scorn that

flooded his eyes, and stung,

only to say, “Only girls bake,

I just do it for you.”

Eventually,

he grew up into a young man,

and he fell in love with a woman

who broke his heart, and I could

hear him sobbing at night, and

the tear stained pillows left a

trail of his pain in the laundry

basket, and when I asked him if

I could ease it somehow, he

lashed out at me, and said, “Men

don’t cry, and you know that.”

I kept quiet, though his pain was

mine, for I wasn’t supposed to

question his ideas of what a boy,

man, son, father, husband, friend,

lover, uncle, were supposed to

be, but I wish I could, because I

could see the red gashes running

up his thighs and wrists, and I

knew before I asked him, that he’d

say, “You’re silly. Men don’t get sad.”

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