It is believed that we men comprise the more privileged lot in our society, but if we look closely, then reality lies far away from these pre-conceived notions. We often deal with internal pressures and societal expectations to conform to the universally accepted principles of being a ‘Man’ in the modern society. So, this International Men’s day, we bring to you some of the typical Indian ways in which men are stigmatized in our society and what it really means to ‘be a man’ here.

Boys don’t play with Barbies’, that’s what we’re told through all our childhood years. You’ve got to love GI Joes, know all about Superman and want to wrestle other boys. And more than that, you’re supposed to stay away from anything pink and ‘girly’. That’s how we’re welcomed into the world of gender stereotypes. 

From an early age, we are hard-wired to be ‘strong’ and not show any weakness. We are often directed to suppress are feelings and not be cowards even if it means going through physical pain silently. We never asked for it but isn’t this the way our society functions ?

When we grow up a little, it’s even harder to cope with the burden of being manly enough. You are mocked and bullied for not being as big as other kids, as aggressive and strong as your peers – qualities wrongly attributed to being manly.

We are often made to feel guilty about chasing our dreams when it comes to unconventional arts as if it is some feminine thing to do. What would have happened if M.F. Hussain was asked to be a doctor because boys aren’t supposed to draw?

Different is unacceptable. When you’re already struggling with the idea of accepting your sexual orientation and identity, the world alienates you even more. You are suddenly a lesser human because you’re not as macho as everyone else. If you’re gay, you’re called names, reduced to ridiculous insensitive jokes, almost forced to hate yourself for who you are. The burden of being a man! 

We men are often labeled as being insensitive by the opposite gender, but isn’t it because of the way we are raised? To be strong, to not cry in front of girls? If a boy expresses his true feelings to his parents or to his group of friends, he is ostracized for behaving ‘like a girl’. With so much external pressure to try and be a man, it’s a tragedy that most of the men end up in an emotional black hole.

Men are supposed to be perfect. Very early in life, they’re expected to have everything sorted. You can’t be 25 and still be clueless about what you want to do in life – because apparently, that’s not how men are supposed to be. How many of you gave up your dreams just to ‘settle down’? 

Men often have to give up on their interests and settle for something more acceptable, something that adheres to the social fabric of our society. Unconventional career options are not welcomed and it’s heartbreaking when we have to give up on something just because of the ‘log kya kahenge’ taboo.

The guy is assumed to be a knight-in-shining-armour in a relationship. The superhero cape comes free with most relationships, whether you like it or not. You’re supposed to be the savior, the stronger one, both physically and emotionally. You should be able to ‘protect’ your woman, and if you fail to do so, you’re not a man. 

We men often take care of the financial needs of our family and while we are busy earning bread for the kids, we miss out on key moments in their lives. As if this sacrifice is not enough, the society gauges our success from how the kids turn out, which is unfair and only a reflection of how hard it is for the men out there to prove their worth.