Feminism and Men

Its been coming for a while, and its only right that issues of men with reference to gender equality are taken to the fore. Personally for me feminism is equivalent to gender equality, but not many people (mostly men) would agree. So its time to discuss how feminism in fact helps men.

The core of the feminist movement lies in the struggle for equal rights of women. These rights traverse areas like social life, culture, sexual rights, employment rights, marital rights, educational rights. . . you get the idea.
Now of course we see feminists going up in arms against men and their thought process in reference to women, but that does not mean a battle of the sexes. It means opening your eyes, neutrally.

The Macho Image: Every man is expected to be mentally and physically imperceptible to pain. Even a young boy aged 4 years would be scolded if he were crying, and the words would be “don’t cry like a girl”. But then, crying is an absolutely natural phenomenon when you’re hurt. And as much as people don’t like to accept this, men cry over heartbreaks too. And its normal. It only makes them human. Do we expect men to not have hearts too? Because this exact kind of behavior towards them conditions them into thinking of emotions as wrong and restricted to the weak only. Does that mean that a man would be less sad when his parents or spouse died than woman would be? Or that men are born with less nerve endings?

The Earning Person: Under ideal circumstances it is expected of a man to be able to earn for at least four people, not including his parents. Much in the same way that a woman is expected to take care of at least 4 people. And none of this is fair. If the same work is shared, the burden becomes much easier. And why not a role reversal? If a woman has the capability to work and earn for the entire family, then the man can take care of the family. (unless of course you think he can’t do that). Jokes apart, both men and women should have the choice to do what they like, unhindered by the biases of society.

Funeral Rights: In most religions, it is only men who are allowed to attend the funeral rites. I wonder, wouldn’t a child/man be soothed by the presence of his mother, child (which could be a daughter), sister, or spouse, when he says a final goodbye to his parents or a loved one? Are men ok with the fact that half of the people of their society (women) are not even allowed to bid adieu to people whom they loved just as much?

The Protector: A man has always been expected to protect his family under all circumstances since ancient times. It made sense then, and its not a debatable fact that an average man is stronger than an average woman. But imagine, if women were taught to fight as well, they could have protected themselves and their families alongside the husbands and had a much better chance at survival. Women would not have had to commit jauhar out of desperation and neither would countless of them have been raped and enslaved during and post war. A man would not be constantly plagued by thoughts of mishaps happening to his daughters, sisters, mothers, or wives. Women could have protected each other as well. Women could even join the army and increase the nations’s strength.

A Man Does Not Cook: At a time when young boys and men have to live away from their parents and family for extended periods, cooking is a survival skill necessary for them. There’s no point being ashamed here, after all men when out for days on end to hunt, would kill and cook and eat the hunt without any female help. Today, its not always feasible to hire help to cook, and neither is that hygienic or healthy, or even safe in times like these.

Wedding Rituals: a) Why, even now, most women of the groom’s family, mother included, aren’t allowed to sit during the  wedding ceremonies? In a society like ours where marriage is considered such an important milestone in one’s life, shouldn’t the moment of happiness be available to all equally?

b) How does the system of giving away the bride work? A father walks down his daughter to give his hand to another man, a father performs ‘kanyadan’, meaning literally- gifting of the ‘maiden’ or the ‘virgin’. Is that all that daughters are? Products kept untouched to be given away to another man when the time comes?

c) The sindoor ceremony, in the Indian wedding rituals is generally a very essential one. It then becomes the mark of a married woman. The symbol refers symbolically-to the ‘maiden’s virginity’ which has been claimed by the husband. Am I the only one who finds this humiliating?

d) ‘And the groom may now kiss the bride’, serious question here, do they ever say, ‘may the husband and wife kiss each other’?

Changing names: How would men feel, if they were forced to change their identities after marriage? A woman when married,  not only has to change her lifestyle, but also has to change her name. Is the position of a woman in a marriage, regardless of the fact whether she has a job or not, not equal to that of a man? It is, then why is it the woman who has to change her name? Haven’t men gone one beyond the animal instinct of marking their territory?

Sex Is A Man’s Forte: ‘Generally’, its a man’s work I’d say, considering a woman can just lie/sit back and enjoy while the man does all the work. 😛 I’d say it would be nice if the woman shared in the work wouldn’t it? And why should a woman not have the same rights as a man? She does after all have more than one sex organ!

Men Are Animals: Whenever victim blaming happens, its taken for granted that just a woman’s clothes or her looks were enough for a man to be ‘lured’ into doing bestial things to her. I’d blame the ancient Indian literature as well for this, when I read about orthodox sages losing their “vital fluid” in an instant of seeing a beautiful woman. But here I want to throw an open question to all men. We like to be called civilized beings. Then do you feel ok when you are called a beast with animal instincts who has no control over his penis and no regard for a woman’s consent? Are men so strongly effected by women so as to rape them and then blame her?

Dowry: I won’t say much here. But really, are you selling yourself while demanding dowry? What is it  that matters, the woman or money?

Education: Men have it easy when it comes to education. Girls are forced to drop out at alarming rates even today. Wouldn’t a man’s job be easier if his wife were educated and could handle a good number of affairs by herself rather than haranguing the man all  the time because of lack of choice? I’m assuming you love your wife and daughter. In the perfect world you are the provider. But its not a perfect world is it? What if circumstances take a turn for the worse, wouldn’t you want your daughter and wife to be independent financially rather than being dependent on someone? Just like your sons and fathers are? Would you want your loved ones to be helpless?

Safety Of Girls/Women: The whole notion of your own daughter or wife not being safe is based on the fact that men believe other men to be inhumane creatures prowling the city in many forms. And thus the manifold restrictions on the female sex. But if men on a whole stopped looking at women as objects or possessions of men, wouldn’t it change things significantly?

Indifferent To Children: It is always assumed that no one knows a child better than its mother. A mother’s lap is the epitome of love, shelter and safety for any child. If a child is troubled, at any point in his/her life, they go to the mother, father’s don’t understand. Basically when children go to their father’s is when they need money. Moreover they are so scared of fathers that they expect the mother to be a buffer and a translator between themselves and the father. (This is the general scenario, of course we have exceptions) Do boys who grow up to be fathers, forget how it was? Wouldn’t they want to change things and be more involved in their children’s lives? To not be at ATM and a dictator, but a confidante as well. They way mothers are?

Patriarchy hasn’t just enslaved women, but men as well. Alas so few understand!


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