This is not your everyday article on why men would benefit from feminism. This is not an attempt at representation of the issues men or boys face due to gender roles reinforced by the society. This is not an outcry on anyone else’s behalf. I have written down why, just my one singular existence, could have been better with feminism. This is the rundown that underlies my realization that even for strictly selfish reasons, a man can and does want feminism:
Because the very same people who mocked me for “always reading like girls” were the ones who discouraged the women in their families from pursuing higher education. Because the same boys who rationalise that they lose out to women in exams for “having many more outdoor activities” are the first to mock a studious boy for coming second to a girl.
Because cricket in this country is a sort of patriotic uniform for men that women may also wear if they like. I couldn’t just grow up in India without being belittled for sucking at cricket, and can’t live an adult life without being scorned for my indifference to the live cricket matches. Because the increase in the numbers of women participating and representing the nation in sports is sadly used to shame the men who are not into any sport: “these days even women play cricket and you hide among books”. Because encouraging women to live their dreams isn’t good enough if not coupled by adequate bashing of the reinforced gender roles. Because the sight of a man who doesn’t do outdoor sports begets the automatic question “how do you even de-stress yourself?”. I would want to go like “Word games, duh!” But perhaps the only acceptable indoor game suiting my gender in this society, is chess, which isn’t my thing either.
Because I grew up learning that I become a man when I learn to carry a woman on a vehicle, not when I learn to carry myself in front of a woman. Because when feminism brings about a dissolution of gender roles, I can hope that the example of women who drive geared bikes in a place like India would not be used to shame the minority of men who learn it late, cannot or do not wish to learn it.
Because I am labelled as ‘anhedonic’ for not participating in group objectification of women – in classifying them based on their curves. Because the concept of sapiosexuality is alien to the society which reinforces that a woman may desire ‘intelligent’ men oriented towards getting better degrees and jobs, but a man may just stick to ‘sundar and susheel’ (beautiful and good natured, in that order of screening). Because I can’t acknowledge my readiness to mingle with women, in front of my male friends, without immediately being shown the most ‘beautiful and easy’ girl of my supposed religion.
Because it is not enough for people to just express their disdain for my introversion, they have to blend it with their disdain for housewives in saying “come out and enjoy like men, don’t just sit inside the house like a housewife”. Because if all women could one day freely walk on the streets at night, introversion of boys and men like myself could at least cease to be considered an issue about a deficit in, or a problem with our masculinity.
Because there have been actual instances when revealing that I am a physician, to people who do not even know my personality, was followed, not by “he must be saving lives” but by “he must be a dowry magnet”. And I could use the surest tone of my voice to declare that I wouldn’t accept dowry, but it wouldn’t matter, people would say “you’ll accept it when it is presented to you, who doesn’t?”. This annoying and repetitive line is homologous to, “so okay you do not worship God now, but you will do so, on your deathbed”.
Because I can’t get any more tired of “All men want only one thing” from both men and women.
Because I have been called rude and weird for not chatting up women with small talk, because when a man is trying to connect to a stranger, small talk is considered essential with women and optional with men. Because it is important that people realise that my speech need not be buttered up just because I am talking to the ‘tender’ gender, that I can use inoffensive straightforward words in acceptable tone with strangers of all genders.
I have not written this to urge other men to identify with my experiences, I have written this to urge them to look back at their own experiences and ask themselves, and let us all know, if their lives could have been better with feminism having worked in those dimensions, time included. It is an important idea that needs to come out louder, that male feminists aren’t just accepting feminism, brought about by the females, but we want feminism, and we will want it, even if we are stripped off the nepotistic or altruistic reasons for wanting it in the world. Guys, ask yourselves!