I live in India and most part of it is openly labelled as male-dominated.
We hear terms like ‘patriarchy’ on a daily basis. Somewhere or the other, we have all accepted it and now we just nod our heads and scroll past such posts on social media.
As a girl, I confess to having been jealous of men sometimes. But is patriarchy a one-way street?
Do men really have it better than us?
Let’s find out!
Before we dwell into the current scenario let’s explore the workings of a couple preceding generations.
I’ll be dissecting it into three parts, my grandfather’s generation, my father’s generation and my generation:
- Baby Boomers.
- Generation X.
- Generation Z.
Baby Boomers (Born between 1946–1964)
This generation was the first to have had the privilege of growing up in a free India; a lot was at stake, a lot more was expected out of them.
Most men were encouraged to pick up ancestral professions. Little boys were being groomed to be the sole bread-winners and little girls were expected to be homemakers.
I can see how that must have made sense. Since the nation was struggling with laying the foundations of a new India, amidst all this chaos, only family occupations and definite gender roles were a constant.
This arrangement was never questioned in their times, it’s just how things worked.
It was saddening cause not only were we missing out on some brilliant women in the workplace but — as a society — we were also putting a tremendous amount of pressure on men.
As ‘the head’ of the family, they simply had to excel in the outside world. The sole purpose of their existence was to bring money to the table, by hook or by crook. No excuses.
I’ve often judged men from my grandfather’s generation as too harsh but now that I think of it, maybe it’s cause they were always asked to ‘toughen up’ and face whatever they faced outside their house in silence. Like a man.
As I said, most men and women were okay with this lifestyle. The predefined gender roles were the foundation of their times.
Life was pretty straight-forward but it wasn’t quite right. Things were about to change.
I’ve also noticed, most people from this generation consider men and women to be two completely different entities. As in, zero common ground.
I wonder if that’s why no one felt the need to communicate their issues at home cause hey, who’d understand, right?
Generation X (Born 1965–1980)
My father’s generation. Both men and women were encouraged to go to school. Education played an important role in their youth.
Except the society still hadn’t found its way around dismissing gender roles. Women were educated but most of them were ultimately expected to be homemakers and the men — again — were expected to excel and earn money.
Both men and women were given a taste of what an ideal society should look like; through education, but now school was over and they were expected to embrace patriarchy.
This messed them up.
Women were inwardly unhappy with their place in society, refusing to cooperate as their mothers had once. All this frustration was indirectly projected upon men.
These men, unlike their fathers, did see women as people with — similar capabilities — if not an equal.
But were we, as a society, ready to see this yet?
No? Were we wrong then?
People started drifting away from their roots. Let’s not forget, this is the generation that considers ‘moving abroad’ as the epitome of success.
I believe this is where the societal dilemma between leading a traditional Indian life and accepting modernity began.
It was too late for them though, this idea will only truly be manifested in the generations to follow.
Generation Z (Born 1995–2015)
Well, we have come a long way.
Over the years, women have fought tooth and nail to be at the same table as men. It worked out. Society is on their side. Hell, the law is on their side.
There are times when they feel sidelined but the best part about this generation is— everyone has a stage. We can voice out our opinions, in a jiffy.
But I’m afraid these voices are deafening the system lately.
A few months ago, I heard a mother tell her teen son, “It does not matter if it’s her fault, you need to apologize and move on. What if she accuses you of harassment? Where will we go then? Who will help us?”
There are countless examples of men being jailed after being falsely accused by women. In some cases, this is further followed by men getting kicked out of their job, their apartment and their families.
The trauma is haunting. It has overwhelmed some victims into taking their own lives!
Why aren’t these women held responsible by us?
“Innocent until proven guilty” does not apply to Indian men.
As they say, too much of anything is bad. Today’s women have been given incredible power over a man’s entire future.
So it’s only natural, mothers are teaching their sons to protect themselves by apologizing.
The question is, where does it all end?
I think patriarchy has not only been unkind to women but also men.
I don’t like it when my male classmates are told, “You need to study well and get a job anyhow. Men are supposed to provide. Who will take care of your future family otherwise?”
This one time one of my male classmates at school had said, “I want to be like my mother,” when asked what she does, “She is a housewife,” he’d said. The little guy was mocked for the entire year.
Why is it so unimaginable for men to be homemakers by choice?
There are such sweet, sensitive men, who are forced to spend all their youth pretending to be these ‘tough’ robots without an iota of human emotion. Why?
This ancient tough-guy act is dismissed initially but we need to understand the overall impact it has had on our society.
It keeps men from speaking up when they are subjected to horrible things like rape or domestic violence. They simply keep mum for the fear of getting judged.
How toxic is that?
It is impossible to keep up with society’s expectations of a man in today’s world.
Men are supposed to respect women even though women might not respect them in return.
Men are supposed to be in control of their marriage but they’re also supposed to be a feminist.
Not to mention, men have absolutely zero value as an individual unless they have a source of income— let’s take the arrange marriage market as an example; unlike men, women are valued for being just that — women.
Moreover, men are also expected to keep quiet about all this cause hey, don't you dare, women have it way worse!
It’s clear that men and women are both pretty much in the same ship here.
And, who’s in control?
Our crazy and probably drunk society.
Instead of blaming the opposite sex, I think it’s time both men and women come together and take control of this sinking ship.
Little boys should not be taught to apologize for things they never did just like little women shouldn’t be allowed to feel entitled for being born a certain way.
It’s the 21st century. People of all sexes should be able to do whatever they want. A man choosing to be a homemaker should be as respectable as a woman choosing to be a pilot.
Let’s hope we can collectively end this gender-war and build a warm and welcoming society.
The current one is proving to be toxic to both men and women alike.
Men are not the enemy.