There is one notion that disturbs me extremely. The notion about feminists and feminism. Yes, I am an Indian woman and I need feminism, I need equality but wait I think all the men need it too. If patriarchy restricts my freedom for all the clothes I want to wear, for all the new places I want to visit alone, for the successful career I want to have, for the solitude night travelling, and for the several other things that I want to have or do. I think patriarchy does injustice to men too.
According to the patriarchs (and the patriarchs include women too): it’s so insulting, shameful and wait what do they call it, yeah, impure, for a girl to be touched or molested. A girl is supposed to be very aware of her body, and touch, after all it’s a matter of respect for her. But why that unwanted touch is not equally disturbing in their eyes for men too? Why is it supposed to be ok if a man in a crowd gets hit unintentionally or intentionally by a person of the same or opposite sex? Patriarchy teaches men to disrespect their own bodies and respect, to not restrict the touch or to not feel extremely bad if such a thing happens. Patriarchy teaches that only daughters can lose their virginity and respect. Well, men have it too. They too can be and indeed they too are being molested, stalked or raped. Patriarchy says, a man is supposed to be the breadwinner of his family; his place is outside,in the fields,in the corporate or government offices. And what if a man, doesn’t want to work or be a homemaker? Or wants to cook for his family or spend time with kids? Patriarchy names him as either gay or a man with no self-respect, one who lives on his wife’s earnings. Patriarchy looks with distraught at men, who cooks in his own kitchen but, yeah it hails all the male chefs at the restaurants. We have a majority of awesome male chefs, the kitchen should belong equally to men as the offices should belong to the women. Patriarchy says men don’t cry. They are supposed to be strong, Alas! It teaches them to disown their own feelings. If you are a man, and if you get teary-eyed in public, well it’s such a matter of shame. What an injustice; taught to be shameful of own feelings or to only feel them in private. Patriarchy has burdened the family man with loads of responsibility. It instructs him to drive around every female in his life in the time of need. No, you just cannot leave your wife or daughter to drive alone, it’s not just unsafe, but women are bad drivers too. She is too weak and fragile, to get the grocery alone from the supermarket, or visit a crowded hospital or get repair work done at the home. The man of the family must reschedule or cancel his office appointments to carry them to these places important. Patriarchy makes it a matter of tradition and pride for a bride to leave her home behind to live with her bridegroom’s family. But it’s a matter of shame and gossip if a bridegroom chooses to live with the bride’s family. The bridegroom belongs to a city A, and the bride B. The bridegroom gets a job in the city B, but wait what, does he live with his in-laws? At her wife’s place?What a matter of shame for him and his family. He is a “#GharJamai” not just “#Jamai”. But there ain’t any distinct terms like “#bahu and “#GharBahu”. The same bridegroom receives 10 lakhs as dowry, a fridge, a bed, a TV, an AC and the neighbors has to say that the man is married in a very well to do family, the girl has brought so many things with her and it’s amazing. The family and the patriarchs cannot stop boasting about it. it’s a matter of pride. What a hypocrisy! Where is the respect now of the bridegroom and his family? No, it only creeps into their bodies and soul when he becomes a “#GharJamai” or “#JoruKaGulaam”. Patriarchy teaches a man it’s so slave and “#JoruKaGulaam” type, if you are insanely in love with your woman. She is supposed to agree to your words and decisions, follow wherever you want her to; and then only she could be called a perfect partner. Her man does the same, and is labelled as less manly or “#JoruKaGulaam”.
Alas, this patriarchy. I need feminism not just because of being a woman, but for the men in my life. For my father and brother who constantly worry for my well-being when I travel alone or work late in the office. For my male colleagues who constantly strive to make the workplace a better place for the women. I need feminism for all the men who are subdued by its burden and perhaps not even aware of it. Alas, the notions thoroughly disturb me.
———— About the Author: This article has been contributed by Srishti Raj, our intern. Srishti is a student of Computer Science & Engineering at KIIT University at Bhubaneswar. She is an avid reader and a keen observer who yearns to see a change in the society.