A Man In India: The Invisible War has been edited by Aashna Kanuga
A man in India has to portray multiple roles throughout his life. From the day he is born, there is a burden of expectations. The pressure of being his parents’ budhape ka sahara. He has to be strong. Given the best that is possible as a child, everyone hopes that one day, everyone will be proud of him. We are given preferential treatment. That last chappati goes to us because we need to “grow strong”.
In a world where we strive for equality, this is the blatant reality.
Men are treated better. However, that preferential treatment is not without cost. It may sound like I am defending all men—maybe I am—but what I want to tell you is that men have it just as difficult, if not more.
Click here to read about Those Entitled Indian Men: Damaged Beyond Repair
I would like to clarify that I am not trying to undermine in any way the struggles that women in this country go through. All I intend to say is that men struggle too, and it may not be as widely spoken about as women’s issues are in this day and age.
As men we are often deemed undesirable and rejected. Imagine a world where you are always undesirable, rejected, and creepy, no matter what you do. If I genuinely want to help out, I am assumed to be thinking about how to get into bed with her. Here is where the hypocritical Indian brain goes into overdrive. If you want to help, you are a creep. If you do not, you are labelled an ass who is the reason chivalry is dead. We are defenseless against the mean looks and inside-jokes society attacks us with. Moreover, who do you talk about it with? Having been brought up with an ideology that men do not complain, we shut up and move on.
Let me give you an example. Once, at a conference, I told a lady that her presentation was inspiring. I genuinely felt that way. She made many valid points.
She told me, “I have a boyfriend, but thank you for appreciating my work!”
I understand that women are wary of inappropriate advances from men. Men are to blame, no questions asked. However, I think that women have forgotten that a lot of us might genuinely be appreciative of their work. It is a bold statement, but it holds merit to it.
As a man, I have no implicit value. Certain things are taken for granted and feeling a sense of accomplishment about them is unheard of. When a woman gets a job after her education, it is a cause for celebration. Women with a career and a college degree are a unique success and glowing individuals who are to be celebrated. My career and a formal education is only ever “decent enough” to not label me as a failure in the society.
How long will I have to go before I am appreciated? When will the society realise that men are raped too? How long before I get to choose my career based on choice than on the money Iwill make? Will there be a time when I can speak up about feelings and emotions? Will I be able to cry openly and not be mocked? These are all very real issues that a man in India deals with today. On a daily basis.
Promiscuous men are called names and considered ‘predatory’ for expressing their sexual desires. If I want to talk about these desires, I am labelled as pervert. The word ‘pedophile’ also makes its way into context. This patriarchal society has given men many societal advantages, but from a social psychological view, men tend to live lives bereft of positive reinforcement. It is what a man is expected to do. I have to do certain things, I have to be someone and tick the right boxes in order to have an identity in the society.
Have you ever thought about it? It is easier for a girl who has a basic graduation degree to get married than a guy with the same qualification. And why is that so? Why does the guy need to be well read, settled, have his own house, hold a steady job, have a car, enough money in his bank account, should not have financial liabilities and additionally, not drink or smoke? The list goes on and on. A man is the “provider” in the relationship. He fulfils your wants and desires. It may be something as small as getting you that dress from H&M, or as extravagant as taking you on your dream holiday.
A father is more likely to marry off his daughter to a barely-passing MBA than to a struggling writer. No matter how much we promote equality, these predefined roles will not change. I might be wrong in the times to come. Really hope I am. I would like to see a day where two people are equal “providers” in a relationship. For now, however, men continue to struggle. I am told to let go of my own wants and desires in life and try and fulfill those of people around me. The struggle of choosing to follow my passion, the fear of exploring my sexuality or simply the struggle to be competent – I will always be at war with themselves. All men will.
Being a man in India is difficult. You will be labelled and rejected. There will be nobody to back you up or talk to you when you are down. Additionally, you are pressurized into doing things you may not want to. And of course, you cannot cry. This is a cruel world we live in. There is zero room for error. There is an invisible war brewing within us and we cannot do anything, except wait for the day the dam bursts. Wait for the day when we have got nowhere to go.
To read more by the author of A Man In India: The Invisible War, click here
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Lutalica.