19th November would have been any other day until I came to know that it was International Men’s Day. My initial reaction was “What? Why do Men even need to have a special day like this? Don’t they get to enjoy all the privileges of patriarchy?”. An old print ad for the Scooty Babelicious bike came to my mind when my brain slowly processed this information. The body copy was something along the lines of “Why have Women’s Day when girls get to have fun all the year. Happy Men’s Day!”. The image was one of two girls booing at the surprised looking metrosexual male.
I sat down to think of why we need a day like this. In a bid to look up a good picture to accompany a short, instant ‘Men’s Day’ verse I had composed, I simply googled ‘men’ in honest expectation that I would come across pictures of men at work, hanging out with their pals, playing with their kids and maybe cooking something for themselves. I was aghast to see that pictures of topless, underwear clad men popped up in the search results. It was sad to see how the definition of a man had to narrow itself down to a scantily clad, six pack armored, larger than life sized image. It occurred to me that men too could be objectified.
Being one to notice how women are portrayed in media, I took a few minutes to ponder how male characters were depicted in media. Take any successful, well made male character, he’s essentially well built, slim, flamboyant, sexy and ‘drop-dead’ gorgeous. I imagine that this could be highly misleading to adolescent males and several young boys who are in the rush to find a role model to look up to. Right from Christian Grey to James Bond, these ‘role models’ have a larger than life sized personality and demeanor. I concluded that it was and is indeed an arduous task for boys to find credible, practical role models as much as it is for girls.
Men go through abuse too. We cannot assume that they don’t simply because many stories do not come to the forefront. Patriarchy is such a villain that pits one sex against another and often a person against his own sexual identity. As much as women have a hard time untangling the maze of submission that the society imposes on them, I bet some men too are baffled by why they must dominate and who gives them the authority to do so. I assume that they go through their share of identity crisis.
We need to recognize our men for who they are. Feminism is not anti-male although a few ‘men’s rights groups’ like to paint it that way! Our men fight cumbersome gender stereotypes and roles. If they deviate from the social norms, they draw unnecessary flak. On this year’s ‘International Men’s Day’ I wish and pray that men irrespective of age and status would take a stand on whatever is dear to them and be themselves fearlessly. As a salute to the contributions of all the great men of our world, I write this poem to you
“To the men who needn’t pull of their clothes
To prove their manliness.
To those who believe that gender differences
Are not a reason to discriminate.
To those who believe in standing up for one’s beliefs
Uncaring for the ‘sissy’ and ‘nincompoop’ tags.
To those who love in earnest
And spit in the faces of those who ’emasculate’ them.
To those who through their uniqueness
Push past the boundaries of the definition of masculinity.
To those of you who understand
That you needn’t always be the benefactor or caretaker.
To those who feel that
Their women deserve an equal chance.
To those who would stand up in pride
When their loved ones triumph
And press them close to your heart
When they fail.
Well, I also found the picture I was looking for!! I like how this one combines boyish innocence and manliness.